(Promoted by Colorado Pols)
I posted two weeks ago about the next step in the fight over municipalization in Boulder, as Xcel sought to sue and forcibly keep customers who just wanted to be rid of them. I just read this article about another element of the battle, and it got me thinking:
After failing to get enough votes in either of two municipal referendums to stop the formation of Boulder’s proposed muni, Xcel filed a lawsuit in Boulder District Court earlier this month to block the muni formally created by a unanimous Boulder City Council vote May 6.
When things went to voters in Boulder, Xcel lost. Badly. Twice. And it’s not the first time that Xcel has lost big when its issue went before the voters. In 2004, for example, Colorado passed our Renewable Portfolio Standard. We were the first in the nation to do it via ballot initiative. That’s important, because it circumvented all of the money and power Xcel has cultivated in the legislature. And that’s a lot of money and power. For example, this list from FollowTheMoney shows Xcel paying TWELVE lobbyists in 2012 alone:
This seems to be a bit of a pattern for Xcel, and given how easy it is in Colorado to get an issue on the ballot it could also wind up as a problem for them. One place that would seemingly make sense is with the solar battles and Xcel’s efforts to kill rooftop solar and net metering policies in the state, which I’ve mentioned before. This could well wind up being a mistake for Xcel though. If the solar and environmental folks are forced to go to the ballot by Xcel’s attacks, it’s likely that they’ll start out with a lot of support, given solar’s popularity. And it’s also likely that they’ll be able to win the ballot fight against Xcel, given how generally unpopular (and incompetent) Xcel has proven to be when it comes to elections. Certainly, if history is any indication, that sort of fight isn’t likely to wind up well for them.
For me, this really raises questions about why Xcel is pursuing such an aggressive, belligerent policy attacking net metering, since it could once again force them into a ballot fight that they’re poorly equipped for and likely to lose. But for those of us watching this fight (and those of us – like me – who are obviously biased towards the solar folks), it could wind up pretty interesting.