Pueblo’s Energy Future coalition holds municipal energy town halls
POSTED BY TYLER GRIMES ON WED, JUL 18, 2018 AT 10:22 AM
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Upcoming Energy Town Halls
Pueblo’s Energy Future coalition is hosting a series of municipal energy town hall meetings to engage and inform citizens on a proposed transition to municipal utility. The meetings, which began in January, follow a September City Council resolution stating Pueblo’s intent to end a franchise agreement with Black Hills Energy. “We take this seriously and we’re committed to trying to make things better in Pueblo,” says Pueblo’s Energy Future’s Steve Andrews. He says Pueblo’s Energy Future has met weekly for the past six years working toward more affordable and sustainable energy.
Recap of June 26, 2018 Pueblo’s Energy Future Town Hall
The most recent town hall took place June 26 at Rawlings Library and drew 115 attendees. Dan Hodges, Colorado Association of Municipal Utilities’s executive director, presented on Colorado’s municipal utilities.
According to the Colorado Association of Municipal Utilities, there are 2000 community-owned electric utilities nationally, serving 49 million people or 14 percent of the population. Among the largest are Los Angeles, San Antonio, Seattle, and Orlando. In Colorado, 29 municipal utilities serve 17 percent of energy demand, including in Colorado Springs. Public power communities are not-for-profit, have an average 10 percent lower costs than investor-owned utilities and are more reliable, the association says. An elected board makes policy and operational decisions in the best interest of the municipal utilities and the communities they serve. But a community-owned utility does not necessarily mean energy generation. Most buy power through long-term contracts with power authorities, or from wholesale suppliers on the open market.
Pueblo looking to Break Free From Black Hills Energy
Pueblo is looking to break free from its current, investor-owned utility, Black Hills Energy. The catalysts for the change are increasing electric prices in Pueblo and a desire for cleaner energy among city council. Pueblo’s electricity bills have increased 40 percent or more over the past five years and are now the highest among the 20 largest cities in Colorado, according to coloradopolitics.com. And according to the Denver Post, a change to municipal energy would lower costs of electricity and further the Ready for 100% initiative, a resolution passed by Pueblo City Council in February of last year to become 100 percent powered by renewable by 2035. Andrews calls the resolution at this time, “an aspirational effort without a plan.”
As for becoming a municipal utility, Pueblo’s Energy Future works closely with the Pueblo Electric Utility Commission, a group of government officials and citizen representatives tasked with overseeing Pueblo’s feasibility study to end its agreement with Black Hills. The closest possible date to “divorce” from Blacks Hills Energy would be August 10, 2020. Andrews, a retired energy consultant, says a state statute that allows municipalities to leave franchise agreements requires doing so in years 10, 15, or 20 of the agreement. The agreement with Black Hills began in 2010.
Black Hills Energy Issue Will Go To A Vote
A public vote to withdraw from Black Hills could come by November 2019, according to the Pueblo Chieftain. The biggest challenge to withdrawing will be the expense. In March, the paper reported Black Hills refused a $1.1 billion offer from San Isabel Electric Association for the purchase of all assets. The major expenses — purchasing and distributing electricity — would begin once the City applies to the Colorado Public Utility Commission to establish its own utility and begins condemning Black Hills assets, such as transmission lines and distribution network.
Pueblo’s Energy Future July 24, 2018, Upcoming Town Hall
The next municipal energy town hall is scheduled for July 24 at 5:30PM at Pueblo County Emergency Services Center. Benoit Allehaut of Capital Dynamics, a firm that invests in municipal utilities, will speak will address the “big money issues,” such as purchasing the distribution system, cheaper wholesale energy, and funding the breakaway.
Pueblo’s Energy Future Colorado Energy Plan August 7, 2018, Upcoming Town Hall
Each of Pueblo’s Energy Future town halls includes an update of a separate but related issue, Xcel Energy’s Colorado Energy Plan. Xcel’s Plan would lead to Colorado’s energy mix from 29 percent to 55 percent renewables by 2026. For more on that story see this Chieftain article, or this story on the Utility Dive. Andrews says the plan would lead to “breakthrough pricing.”
“Effectively, it will be cheaper to install solar and wind with battery backup than to operate older, coal-fired power plants,” he says.
On Tuesday, August 7, Pueblo’s Energy Future will host a clean energy and economic growth forum town hall to discuss the Xcel’s Colorado Energy Plan’s economic impact on Pueblo. The plan would close Comanche 1 and 2 Generating Stations, that provide energy to Denver, by 2025. Both Comanche 1 and 2 would be replaced by solar energy with battery storage according to the plan.
PEF’s Town Halls Update Edition
Pueblo’s Energy Future: An Evening with Capital Dynamics AG
When to Get Involved in PEF’s Town Halls
On July 24, 2018, Pueblo’s Energy Future (PEF) will host the fourth Town Hall in our speaker series featuring the Switzerland-based venture capital and private equity firm, Capital Dynamics AG. Come to learn about funding options the city has. This will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.
Where to Attend PEF’s Town Halls
Pueblo County Emergency Service Center
101 W 10th St
Pueblo, CO 81003
Why Get Involved in PEF’s Town Halls
On September 25, 2017, by Resolution No. 13790, the Pueblo City Council declared the City of Pueblo’s intent to terminate its Franchise Agreement with Black Hills on August 10, 2020, and to create a municipal utility, if a due diligence feasibility study showed that municipalization was an economically viable option. They took this measure to act in the long-term interest of our citizens, rate-payers, and businesses. Pueblo’s Energy Future has focused on hosting a series of Town Hall Events focused on Bringing Power Home.
Please, come with your questions and our panel of experts will address them. If you have any further inquiries about this event please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at pueblosenergyfuture.org
Information about Capital Dynamics featured speaker at our Town Hall
Our Fourth Speaker Series will feature a venture capital and private equity firm specializing in direct, fund of funds, and secondary investments. Under direct investments, it makes growth and buyout investments. It seeks to invest in mid-market companies in clean energy and infrastructure with a focus on clean energy technologies such as solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, small hydro, landfill gas, conventional cogeneration, waste gas-fuelled power generation, technology and business services, consumer, healthcare, financial services and industrials sectors. Underfund of funds investments, the firm invests in venture capital, distressed, mezzanine, emerging managers, secondary investment funds, real estate funds, private equity funds, buyout funds, and special situation funds.
It seeks to invest in clean energy companies across the globe. It invests in the United States, Brazil, and Asia with a focus on China, and Europe. Within Europe, it invests in special situation funds. Within Asia, the firm only invests in buyout funds. It invests $10 million to $100 million per transactions in its portfolio companies.
The firm provides its services to insurance companies, pension funds, banks, and government organizations. It manages advisory accounts, discretionary customized mandates, fund of funds, secondary funds, and co-investments. It offers structured solutions for portfolio re-financings and securitizations; structured investment vehicles to achieve enhanced liquidity options, enhanced returns or capital protection for investors; and legal structures to optimize tax, regulatory and accounting treatment for individual investors. It seeks to invest in unlisted companies.
Capital Dynamics AG was founded in 1988 and is based in Zug, Switzerland with additional offices across Asia, North America, and Europe. Capital Dynamics AG operates as a subsidiary of Capital Dynamics Holding AG. It could well be a good fit, a practical route to Pueblo’s independence from Black Hills Energy.