Will Boulder be the last city to go muni? Don’t bet on it.
When Administrative Law Judge Paul Gomez denied “with prejudice” Public Service Co. of Colorado’s (PSCo) petition to recover $16.6 million in cost overruns for its Boulder SmartGridCity pilot, the ruling marked the latest in a series of black eyes the utility has suffered over the project.
In a scathing mid-January decision,1 Judge Gomez said the company had failed to prove the project’s extra costs were prudently incurred. He termed PSCo’s purported consumer benefits “meager,” and said its petition lacked “any showing of cost-effectiveness.”
In addition to forcing utility shareholders to absorb millions of dollars in capital costs, the judge’s decision provides fresh ammunition to Boulder community leaders who are working to oust the utility—an outcome that looks increasingly likely after a series of ballot initiatives ended PSCo’s franchise and gave the city council an apparent mandate for local control.