NO on Municipalization

Here are the reasons to vote NO on Boulder’s Electric System Municipalization project – and the reasons why decarbonization is both an indisputable environmental imperative and the world’s most promising asset utilization business opportunity.

Carbon Eraser (CE) is an idea for a “born in Boulder” Colorado suite of decarbonization enterprises that provide a carbon-free alternative to activities that now add carbon to our air. These ventures can be coordinated with each other or they can stand alone. Together they create a metaphorical shade of green and an energy ecology that is both economically rewarding and environmentally sustainable. CE is good for communities like Boulder, Colorado, for the environment, for partners like the University of Colorado and Xcel Energy, and for the power grid.

As a member of Boulder’s City Council, I helped write its first Climate Action plan in 2006.

 As a reading of the document will show, just 12 years ago Boulder and Xcel Energy had an excellent relationship and a common purpose to reduce the carbon content of our energy.

As you will see, Xcel inmost cases achieved or exceeded the plan’s goals. However, the City of Boulder’s Plan Boulder-influenced City Council got sidetracked, spending over $20 million to sue for the right to spend a few hundred million more to buy the electric system, i.e., the poles, wires and cash flow.  

The most obvious problem is that the poles and wires are obsolete, and the cash flow will be destabilized by decarbonization success. I haven’t paid for an electron, or for a gallon of gas, since I put solar on my roof and bought an electric car. I still pay for natural gas to heat my home. However, natural gas is not being municipalized, and accordingly that cash flow will not help pay back those millions of dollars. Additionally, the primary stated reason for municipalization was to be able to achieve a lower carbon content energy mix; however, that has become unrealistic.

And in fact it is impossible that municipalization will achieve a carbon mix better than that delivered by Xcel, as the company responds to climate change, declining economic of coal/carbon, and the dramatically different economics of distributed generation.  It is now certain that the velocity of decarbonization will increase due to the urgency in reaction to more frequent and severe climate change weather events and water level changes, emergency carbon taxes, and hundreds of innovation opportunities from all over the world, which you can read about and see at

This paragraph links to the FOURTH NATIONAL CLIMATE ASSESSMENT Volume II: Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States. The National Climate Assessment (NCA) assesses the science of climate change and variability and its impacts across the UnitedStates, now and throughout this century. It was JUST released on November 24, 2018

Most important, preoccupation with the outdated municipalization dream has distracted Boulder from accomplishing successes demonstrated by progressive communities around the world, such as updating poles and wires into resilient microgrids that keep the lights on, powered by solar gardens and other distributed generation systems. And also, focusing on the other two-thirds of our carbon footprint: mobility and heating buildings.

Boulder has only one beautiful, formerly diesel, rebuilt electric bus in its fleet (thank you, Via and Frank Bruno). A city of Boulder’s wealth should have a fleet of electric buses and a carbon-free mobility plan. The following links describe more sustainable decarbonization alternatives that have been developed since great-grandfathers in neighboring Longmont municipalized their still today carbon-dirty electric system about 100 years ago. Boulder’s great-grandfathers instead built a hydroelectric turbine in Boulder Creek that has been creating carbon-free electric for over 100 years.

This is a wonderful link please click through its security warnings to see Boulder’s 100-year-old turbine.

Carbon Eraser (CE) is a suite of decarbonization enterprises that don’t require municipalization, however, provide a carbon-free alternative to activities that now add carbon to our air. These ventures can be coordinated, or each can stand alone. Together they create an energy ecology that is both economically rewarding and environmentally sustainable. CE is good for communities likeBoulder, Colorado, for the environment, for partners like the University ofColorado and Xcel Energy, and for a more sustainable low or no carbon power grid that keeps the lights on.

The only reason to municipalize is the thrill some derive from kicking the power company in the knee. A well-considered response to climate change may be the most important decision we make on behalf of those who come after us. In light of Boulder having one of the highest concentrations of technical graduate degrees in the world, and an innovation community of global prominence, not to mention influences of world-class arts and open space, we should more carefully consider that decision.  

Idea 1. Carbon Eraser Solar Roof and Garden Plan
Click for details

Idea 2. Establish an annual Carbon Eraser Head and Bed Tax to fund low carbon mobility including pass-less electric and fuel cell buses as well as other point to point options
Click for details 

Idea 3. Redeployment of the 500+ acres at the Valmont powerplant as Boulder’s Carbon Eraser Energy Park could be Boulder’s crowning Decarbonization and Resiliency  accomplishment
Click for details

Decarbonization involves billions of dollars of opportunities. The most obvious involve lower carbon energy, such as solar, wind, and hydrogen, as well as microgrids, mobility, and building heating. Worst case opportunities may result in responding to shoreline water level population relocation challenges. The story is big enough for us all to be a part of it.

A profitable example is helping to launch a Climate Change guaranteed Cryptocurrency.

1000 kW CE blockchain cryptocurrency token

A 1000 kW CE is a coin and trading unit that utilizes blockchain to create a self-contained carbon market. This is a cryptocurrency like a bitcoin; however, its value would be stabilized by green speculation and climate change.

In addition to other monetary value conveyed, a 1000 kW CE is title to the non-energy attributes of the carbon-free generation of 1000 kilowatt hours of energy. Each block in the chain is title to a specific 1000 kW hours of carbon-free energy generated at a specific location, e.g. a particular hydro turbine, windmill or rooftop solar address. The blockchain ledger memorializes the data attributes of a REC(Renewable Energy Certificate), including its history from generation through monetization and retirement. While in the olden days dollars were backed with gold, the CE is backed with a decarbonization event, a guarantee that will have more meaning as the Climate Changes in the November 24, 2018 CLIMATE ASSESSMENT become top of mind globally.

The1000 kW CE would allow a business, such as Boulder’s Whole Foods, to illustrate that the amazing 100-year old hydroelectric turbine inBoulder Creek  is powering the store. The cost premium of the energy from the turbine would be like priced with Xcel’s Windsource program for “green” energy (RECs) generated at a windmill hundreds of miles away.

This process would effectively create a carbon market, reversing the current decline in REC valuations while providing a vehicle for rooftop solar owners to cash out of ridiculously low monthly REC payments.  For example, a residential energy consumer with a solar array receiving REC payment checks for just $2 or $3 a month for 10 years could cash out and receive a single payment. Results beyond Boulder would include stimulating carbon-free distributed energy generation and innovation. Reversing negative REC values is akin to a tax cut and will immediately increase installed distributed generation capacity, e.g.rooftop and solar gardens.  

The Boulder Bubble contains an aggregation of articles from the most respected authorities.

We suggest other alternatives to municipalization and  governance in general because of two strongly held convictions:

  1. The lost secret of the “American algorithm” as provided in the choice of the word indivisible in our Pledge of Allegiance and E pluribus unum —Latin for “Out of many, one” — appearing on the Great Seal by an Act of Congress in 1782, is a contract to compromise.
  2. The algorithm requires higher levels of voter participation.  Those who care about the future must vote.

Proof is easily found inBoulder’s most recent municipalization vote, where the largest, most expensive and impactful decision in the city’s almost 160 year history was approved by just 15,549 people, only about 22% of eligible voters. Municipalization’s supporters won by a very small margin, less than 2%, perhaps achieved with the votes of University of Colorado students who were taken to the polls in golf carts, with free pizza in hand. It would have been better if more folks who will be living here in the future had also voted.   

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