Boulder’s energy plan is a leap toward socialism

I’ve been following the story of a possible government takeover of an energy company recently and I thought it might be useful to share with our readers. Most will assume we are referencing a occupation occurring in some faraway socialist/Marxist enclave. You would only be partly right, it’s happening in Boulder.

You’ve probably seen mention of Boulder wanting to establish its own public utility to escalate its battle with common sense by pushing energy generation further into costly, subsidized and unready methods of energy generation whose main purpose is to make people feel better about themselves. It’s bad enough Colorado ratepayers have been subsidizing statewide inefficient solar and wind power generation due to a government mandated 30 percent generation of power through renewable energy.

By renewable, I assume they mean you renew the source of the subsidy every time you pay your Xcel bill. I’d always assumed it was punishing enough to pick the pocket of ratepayers using a publicly regulated utility and kill birds and bats with some windmills. But I was wrong.

Last year the city of Boulder drew a new line in the sand of leaping socialism (it’s like creeping socialism, only a lot faster) when Boulder voters narrowly approved a plan for the city to assume control over Xcel’s power generating grid so they can convert it to even more politically correct methods of power generation.

They are authorized to use condemnation proceedings, which many of us identify by its more common usage, eminent domain. This process is the taking of private property, by the government, for a beneficial public use.

Readers will recall the controversial 2005 Supreme Court case of, Kelo v. New London, Connecticut, where the court allowed a city to seize the home of a woman to be transferred for the benefit of the drug company Pfizer based on the notion that it better served the public good to generate a higher tax base than having Ms. Kelo minding her own business.

In Colorado that brings us to the 2008 case of The Town of Telluride v. San Miguel Valley Corporation.  There, the town of Telluride acquired 572 acres of property through the use of eminent domain, over the objection of the owners for public use, i.e. recreation.

Did I mention the property was actually outside of the town limits? Well, it was and the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that the taking of the property for such use was a valid exercise of state power and the fact that the property was outside the normal jurisdiction of the town was not a bar to its exercise of eminent domain. Bear in mind, that when the state uses its power of eminent domain it must fairly compensate the owner of the property.

This brings us back to the Boulder situation where you might be surprised to find that the city of Boulder and the energy company have different estimates of the value of the properties. If they cannot be negotiated, the city can move forward for a court determination of value and authority to transfer ownership.

Xcel, who offered to make Boulder the greenest power generation city prior to the election is miffed at the idea of turning over the power grid, which it has been busily installing the last few years, to the city. Here’s a strange bit of news, Xcel is now concerned about continuing to subsidize many of its solar initiatives in the Boulder market because it would be unfair to the rest of the ratepayers. A shock but they appear desperate.

Even the Boulder Daily Camera mentions fairness to ratepayers here in Grand Junction three times while editorializing concern about Xcel trying to limit Boulder residents in their ability to apply for rebates and participate in future energy efficiency programs.

Xcel is essentially saying if you decide to take part of the company, we don’t want you to take more ratepayer subsidized benefits with you. The city argues this is all premature since they are still exploring costs. They apparently feel the company should continue to upgrade and provide service, subsidized or otherwise, until such time as the town decides whether or not they’re going to take over.

If you own property, you should be paying attention to this.

Rick Wagner writes more on politics at his blog, The War on Wrong.


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