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BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Xcel Energy has donated $300,000 to a group backing an amendment that would require Boulder voters to approve any changes in municipal debt limits — a measure opponents claim would make it harder for Boulder to set up its own electric utility.
Xcel currently serves the Boulder area and opposes efforts by the city to create its own utility.
Issue 310 would require a popular vote on the debt limit of any municipal utility before Boulder could issue debt to pay for it. Residents of unincorporated Boulder County who would be customers of a city-run utility could vote on the issue.
Backers say it allows voters to sign off before taking on significant debt. Opponents say it would make it so difficult to issue debt that it would be hard to operate a municipal utility.
A spokeswoman for Voter Approval of Debt Limits, which received the Xcel donation, told The Daily Camera (http://bit.ly/19BiWXs) that it was meant to counter donations from the Sierra Club and others who support a city utility. Backers of a city utility claim it would charge lower rates and use more renewable energy.
“We reached out to Xcel to just remind them that the opponents of our measure are putting a lot of resources into opposing us,” said Katy Atkinson, a spokeswoman for Voter Approval. “If Xcel was going to get involved, now was the time.”
Xcel Energy spokeswoman Michelle Aguayo said the money didn’t come from ratepayers.
The Boulder City Council has authorized a purchase of Xcel Energy’s local assets.
Representatives of Empower Our Future, a Boulder group opposing the debt limit, said Xcel’s donation made it clear that the proposed charter amendment is not about fiscal responsibility but a bid by Xcel to stop a new utility in its tracks.