ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT

Boulder Chamber Guiding Principles

The Boulder Chamber supports sustainable energy and natural resource management strategies, including transportation energy savings, higher-density redevelopment, and renewable energy advancement measures, that respond to both short- and long-term necessity, including the risk of climate change, enhancing community resiliency, and promoting innovation that benefits economic vitality. Along with partnering efforts across Colorado and our region, the City of Boulder can become a leader in these areas through a thoughtful balance of our environmental and economic goals. The Boulder Chamber is committed to partnering in those efforts.

We recognize the economic benefits of effective energy efficiency retrofits and other sustainable business operations, which is why we support incentives, education efforts, and grant programs that encourage our members to take advantage of available opportunities and move us, as a community, state, and nation, toward reduced energy consumption, expanded renewable energy development, and greater resiliency from natural disasters.

Issue Areas And Positions

Boulder's Electrical Utility/Municipalization

We believe clean energy powers the future of business and recognize that the sustainability of Boulder’s economy depends on new developments in clean energy industries like wind, solar, and smart-grid applications. At the same time, advancements in these types of technologies and the pursuit of new mechanisms for delivering electric services must adhere to critical values, such as price competitiveness and reliability.

The potential for Boulder to municipalize its power utility presents opportunities along with significant risks to those key values. The Boulder Chamber strives to balance the pursuit of clean energy goals with full respect for business interests and concerns associated with risk mitigation. We are also concerned that further investment in the municipalization effort could be distracting our community from other more efficient and timely measures for achieving our renewable energy and climate protection goals, particularly in the area of increased solar development.

Our current position with respect to municipalization follows these principles:

  • We encourage Xcel and the City of Boulder to pursue all possible avenues for a negotiated resolution that is consistent with Boulder’s clean energy goals;
  • We want to make sure any resolution is protective of business electric utility rates and current or better reliability thresholds (which include adequate redundancies and back-up power systems);
  • We are pleased that City Council is committed to a public vote, once all costs and risks are known, on any final decision to municipalize; and
  • We support efforts to work with energy experts, industry partners, and members of the community to inform consumers and identify more efficient and effective strategies to achieve our local climate protection and renewable energy goals.

The Bottom Line: We support expeditious achievement of clean energy and climate protection goals and will be a leader in that endeavor. We feel we can realize these goals in a quicker timeframe, more efficiently, and with less disruption to our local economy through public/private partnerships rather than the effort to municipalize our electric utility.

Innovation and Clean Energy

The Boulder Chamber is actively engaged with a national clean energy association, Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy, which aims to grow jobs in the clean energy sector as well as establish partnerships for furthering clean energy initiatives. We will continue to engage in associations that facilitate best practice sharing to advance our community’s clean energy and climate protection goals.

Building Energy Efficiency Code Updates

The Boulder Chamber believes there are opportunities for greater efficiency in the achievement of environmental standards and we seek to partner with the City in this area. This includes the opportunity for businesses to constructively share their perspective on the impacts of new energy regulations and upgrade requirements.

It is critical to continue to allow projects that have submitted land use review applications to adhere to the energy code regulations in place at the time of submittal. Additionally, property owners should be allowed a reasonable time to implement or retrofit existing properties and be provided resources to identify cost effective and financially feasible solutions.

We believe the City of Boulder should offer incentives to those committed to invest in green building and upgrades. These principles, which provide a level of predictability and encouragement to achieve energy efficiency goals, should apply to all residential or commercial projects.

Further, we believe there should be flexibility for City staff to consider modification requests, on a case-by-case basis, for any project that can demonstrate it is technically impractical or financially infeasible to meet some aspect of the new code for their building project.

Related Issues of Importance

  • Barriers & Incentives for Energy Innovation: We support efforts at the state and federal levels that reduce the barriers to transition to clean energy systems. We support density development bonuses and other incentives for businesses that make investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

  • City of Boulder’s 2050 carbon reduction goals: The Boulder Chamber supports the pursuit of strategies that help to achieve Boulder’s renewable energy goals. The City of Boulder also should consider the wider impacts of its policies, in everything from climate protection to housing and transportation, by measuring its climate impacts on a regional scale.

  • City of Boulder Solar Strategies: The Boulder Chamber supports the implementation of innovative clean energy solutions and the associated investments without imposing additional costs to business. We will facilitate the engagement of those voluntarily seeking to participate while resisting mandates that fail to account for business investment and operation concerns.

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