© 2017 by Matt Benjamin - Paid for by the Committee To Nominate Matt Benjamin for Council

Local Energy & Boulder's Municipilization 

I have been an environmentalist my entire life, learning to be a steward of the land beginning with trips into the wilderness as a child. My family foundation financially supports non-profits and advocacy groups throughout the mountain west. Environmentalism has been at the core of much of my teaching at CU, since most of my students and general public are better served learning how to protect this planet than memorizing the “Chandrasekhar Limit”. Most recently, I led the establishment of a new program at CU Boulder called “Climate Change in our Backyard” (https://outreach.colorado.edu/programs/details/id/755). I am currently working with the Idaho Conservation League to establish the nation's largest Dark Sky Reserve in central Idaho (http://www.idahodarksky.org). It is this passion for the environment that led me to CU 17 years ago, and to put down roots with my family in South Boulder.

 

Boulder is leading the world in climate research. Let’s match that by leading in climate action. We are a little more than 12 years away from our self imposed deadline in 2030 to be using 100% renewable energy. In the last couple of years we have seen the economic justification for renewable energy catch up to the moral one. After seven years of exploring the path to municipalize our electric utility, we now know a great deal more about what it takes to municipalize and how complicated it is. In many ways we have finally gotten most of the hard fought for and long sought after answers to questions we’ve had from the beginning. With that comes substantive information with which to evaluate municipalization, how it fits into our climate goals and the rest of what Boulder aims to achieve in the coming years and decades.

 

It is time for us to completely reset our strategy to reach our climate goals. Based on the recent decisions by the Public Utilities Commision, the muni will be prohibitively expensive (far beyond the voter approved $214 Million) and jeopardize our abilities to reach our 2030 renewable energy goals. Unexpectedly we have also seen Xcel take a more serious step to transition its energy portfolio to include a lot more renewables. It’s time to stop reviewing how we got here, and start looking forward to solutions. New information and data compels us to seek new conclusions.

 

Our community as a whole needs to move on from the bitter divide the muni has created throughout Boulder for the past seven years and unite behind a common sense and science-based approach to reaching our climate goals.

 

  1. Immediately start investing in local and commercial renewable energy incentives.

  2. Negotiate a new franchise agreement with Xcel that is forward thinking and fair to both parties.

  3. Work with Xcel and the State to change many of the outdated rules prohibiting local, safe and reliable energy production.

 

Hindsight is 20/20. But for a moment let’s imagine that seven years ago we knew all that we know now about the path to municipalize including the extended legal battles, skyrocketing cost, evolution of Xcel and diminishing time to reach our goals. Would you have voted to approve it?

 

To many of my friends, neighbors and fellow candidates who have supported and continue to support the muni, I ask that you take this time to allow yourself to evaluate all that we know now and how we can reach our climate goals. Join me in seeing the opportunity we have ahead of ourselves to make real progress in reaching our climate goals. The pursuit of the muni should never have been about winners or losers or pro-muni versus anti-muni. The exploration of Boulder’s municipal utility was centered around concrete climate actions that put our Future First. So I ask that you help us stay true to that. With everything we know now comes the responsibility to be nimble and adaptable to the changing conditions and take advantage of new opportunities for the improvement of Boulder. Sometimes leadership requires the courage to know when to change course and find new solutions.