Boulder, Colorado wants to consider its options.
The city has petitioned the Colorado Public Service Commission to effectively remove itself from the hearings over SmartGridCity, a bloated, over-budget smart grid/demand response project slated to link 2,000 homes in the area. The city filed an petition to amend its testimony in the hearings and the amendment essentially seeks to eliminate the testimony of the city.
It is another milestone in a saga we've been following for a while, and certainly not a good turn of events for Xcel Energy, the leader of the project.
City representatives cited several reasons for the move. "First, and most importantly, there is not a clear consensus among the members of the Boulder City Council with regard to the value of SmartGridCity in its present state or the prudence of this investment," the city stated. Some civic leaders and businesspeople believe that the project in its present state has stopped short of what it was promised to be.
Boulder was also told that the entire cost would be covered by the Public Service Commission. Instead, the project, spearheaded by Xcel Energy, ballooned past $100 million, prompting Xcel to seek payments of $5 million or more from participating companies. Xcel has also sought to recover some of the costs through rate increases, a sticking point for the city. The PSC reluctantly granted Xcel the right to recover some costs.
Earlier this month, the franchise agreement between Xcel and Boulder expired. The company is now operating under a revocable permit that expires at the end of the year.
"Over the course of the next year, Boulder will be studying how best to move forward towards increasing its supply of clean energy," the filing said. Many of the options could involve Xcel, but Boulder said it does not at the moment want to close its options.
Now there's a vote of confidence.