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Boulder Voters Pass Controversial Utility Measures

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In Boulder, voters signed off on a pair of ballot measures that will allow the city to raise taxes to study whether it can create its own municipal utility and sever its ties with Xcel Energy.

Supporters of ballot questions 2B and 2C worried a long-term contract with Xcel Energy would hindering Boulder’s efforts to combat climate change, because even though Xcel has ramped up its mix of renewable energy, a majority of its power still comes from coal.

Speaking at a crowded watch party at the Hotel Boulderado, Tom Plant, former energy director for Governor Bill Ritter and now co-chair of the Boulder Clean Energy Business Coalition, said he wasn’t surprised the Xcel and its opposition outspent groups like his.

"They get about 14 million dollars a year in profits out of Boulder, so we knew they were going to spend a lot of money," Plant said. "But we also knew we had a pretty good message."

In a tweet Wednesday morning, Xcel officials conceded defeat but pledged to continue working with the city.

but in a previous interview with KUNC,  the company's Craig Eicher argued a city-run utility would have a tough time providing more clean energy than Boulder already gets.

"Municipalization is a very hard road to take for a city, especially one that involves the condemnation of a private company as the city is currently contemplating," Eicher said.

Other opponents of the proposal, including a local business group called the Boulder Smart Energy Coalition said they supported local clean energy efforts, but worried that a city-run utility would be risky and costly to rate payers.

This story has been updated from an earlier version.

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