1. Pueblo’s Energy Future is a coalition of advocates from diverse backgrounds—the faith community, charities serving the homeless, environmental groups, renewable energy groups, concerned citizens, and representatives of city, county, and state governments. Pueblo’s Energy Future is committed to creating an energy future in Pueblo that is affordable, sustainable, and morally just, no matter how long that takes.
  2. This group was formed in response to an eight-year track record of Black Hills Energy making business decisions that were consistently in the best interest of its stakeholders, but that were consistently not in the best interest of Pueblo’s stakeholders, which include Pueblo’s low-income population, its residential ratepayers, and its commercial and industrial businesses.
  3. There is a perception in Pueblo that important decisions affecting its future are proposed by Black Hills and made by regulators in Denver without much concern for the consequences those decisions have on the lives of people in Pueblo or Pueblo’s economic health. 
  4. We recognize that there is also a continuity problem involved with those who are charged with being the watchdogs of Black Hills. While Black Hills has pursued its long-term business strategy one PUC docket at a time, the composition of the institutions charged with being watchdogs of Black Hills continuously changes over time. These include the Commissioners on the Public Utilities Commission itself, those in the Office of Consumer Counsel, members of Pueblo’s City Council, and Pueblo’s County Commissioners.
  5. Our coalition is committed to the idea that Pueblo has the right to create its own energy future based upon affordability, sustainability, and moral justness, and that Pueblo has the right to be the source of continuity to implement that future, regardless of how long it will take. Our desire is to enroll you in the justness and value of our cause and to gain your support in embracing an affordable, sustainable, and morally just energy future.
  6. With that said, it is important to review the events that brought us to the crisis now evident in Pueblo and well-described by Anne Stattelman and Steve Andrews. Since the acquisition of Aquila, Black Hills has pursued a business strategy consistent with it being able to increase its overall revenue. Black Hills has added $385 million in new natural gas generation to its asset base on which it collects a 9.83% rate of return. This represents a 376% increase in its rate base. The effect has been to increase its own revenues by 54% and to increase the cost of electric service in Pueblo on average by 60%.
  7. Could the rush to build new fossil fuel generation have been curbed? Could power have been purchased on the wholesale markets? Could more emphasis have been placed on energy efficiency programs and demand side management programs to reduce the amount invested in generation? Could a more diverse portfolio have been created that included low-cost wind energy that would also meet Colorado’s renewable energy standard years ahead of schedule? Could creative time of use tariffs, battery storage, and an expansion of rooftop and community solar have played a larger part of the portfolio? Could harsh policies toward customers with arrearage or disconnection problems have been voluntarily solved by Black Hills? These questions are not just 20/20 hindsight. Cumulatively, they point to Black Hills taking an opportunistic advantage of its status as a monopoly. Black Hills consistently made business decisions that were most favorable to it, while each set of watchdogs only saw one or two of these moves before the next watchdogs took over their watch.
  8. As an unfair result of Black Hills’ spending spree, customers in Pueblo pay the highest rates for electricity in Colorado. Even while Puebloan’s can least afford massive rate hikes, Black Hills has increased its payment of dividends to shareholders, executive compensation to top management, and “discretionary” spending.
  9. Black Hills has done little to encourage customers to reduce their consumption of electricity and to install rooftop solar, either of which would help offset the impact of rate increases.
  10. Black Hills treats low income customers harshly by imposing tough disconnect, reconnect, and arrearage policies. Being tough on low income customers is damaging to families and to Pueblo’s community as a whole because it leaves thousands of former customers in a permanent state of electricity outage, a condition universally known to be disruptive and dangerous. It is worth noting that Black Hills itself could change these harsh policies if it chose to do so.
  11. Without a substantial course correction by Black Hills Energy within the next year or so, our coalition will be investigating all options available to the City with respect to the off-ramp under the City’s franchise agreement with Black Hills Energy.
  12. Black Hills now acknowledges that wind is the least expensive source of power, cheaper than natural gas and coal. It is a sad irony after Black Hills’ eight-year binge on acquiring fossil fuel generation that it now acknowledges what economists and energy experts have known for years–that the cost of wind, and then solar, energy would become the least cost sources of electricity.
  13. We believe that Black Hills’ request to pass along to ratepayers the cost of its latest addition to its generation base, the $70 million peaker plant, be disallowed by the Public Utilities Commission because the addition of this plant does not pass the test of affordability or sustainability. Rather, this plant appears to satisfy a desire for Black Hills to increase its revenues with marginal value to the ratepayers, who would be better served with lower cost investments in a sustainable portfolio of energy efficiency, battery storage, optimization of smart meters, and especially renewable during the extension of federal investment and production tax credits.
  14. Pueblo Energy Future calls you out to not turn a blind eye to the human suffering in Pueblo caused by Black Hills’ arrearage, disconnect, and deposit policies. Black Hills should be encouraged to modify these harsh policies on its own initiative or be faced with mandates to do so. Morally unjust policies should not be legal, especially when other utilities in Colorado choose to employ more compassionate policies.
  15. There are new winds of change blowing in Pueblo and the sunshine has never been brighter. We are moving toward an energy future that will look more like the one envisioned by our neighbors to the north who are served by Xcel Energy. We find it heartening that stakeholders from many sectors were able to reach a settlement agreement with Xcel Energy that would launch new tariffs for time of use rates and battery storage, that would eliminate the threat of a grid use charge and embody net metering as the norm for rooftop solar, and that would create a new Renewable Tariff and expand existing programs for rooftop and community solar. We seek your partnership as regulators of Black Hills Energy to create an equally bright future in Pueblo, one that is affordable, sustainable, and morally just.
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  • Free trees for Black Hills customers April 18, 2019
    Hundreds of free trees are waiting to be claimed by Black Hills Energy subscribers in Pueblo, as the company is giving away approximately 300 trees ...
  • Mayor selects Pueblo native as finance director April 18, 2019
    Mayor selects Pueblo native as finance director .... of ending its franchise agreement with Black Hills Energy early and creating its own municipal utility ...
  • Electric linemen are our unsung heroes April 17, 2019
    Linemen function as the backbone of Black Hills Energy's electric service. ... and organizations like the Boys & Girls Clubs of Pueblo County, our linemen act ... This is why students frequently recognize Black Hills linemen by name ...
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10 months ago
Xcel Energy power plan would cut carbon emissions by half, use renewable sources for 55 percent of power


Xcel Energy Colorado unveiled a new power plan it estimates could save customers $215 million, cut carbon emissions by half and lift renewable sources to 55 percent of its electricity portfolio by …

10 months ago
Xcel sees solar, wind and Pueblo for its future power

We're happy to see some of the components in Xcel's 120 Day report filed yesterday with the Colorado Public Utility Commission. We're encouraged by the plan to increase renewable energy resources, ... See more

Xcel Energy's latest plan for electric production in Colorado calls for building three major solar power systems in Pueblo County, along with battery storage, and additional wind power that would

10 months ago

Looking forward to reading Xcel's Clean Energy Plan, in their 120-day report. Glad this is moving forward - interested in engaging in this opportunity.

10 months ago
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