PUEBLO, Colo. — Current and former Pueblo City Council members now sitting on opposite sides of the table, as the election for ballot question 2A draws near.
May 5 is Election Day and Pueblo will decide on the municipalization of power — whether the city should dump Black Hills Energy and form its own utility company.
The process of municipalization usually happens when a city is unhappy for whatever reason, with their investor-owned utility, in this case, Black Hills Energy and they think they can do a better job.
Pueblo thinks they can do better and give rate payers a cheaper price.
As a comparison currently a thousand square-foot house in Colorado Springs– pays about $75 and in Pueblo roughly the same size house pays about $90 with Black Hills Energy.
“It’s the most important decision Pueblo voters have made in the last 100 years,” said Chris Nicoll, a former city council member who is for 2A. “This is Pueblo’s big opportunity to effect change and create lower rates for our citizens, for electric rates, and help Pueblo’s economy.”
Current city council member Lori Winner believes unplugging from Black Hills Energy is a disaster.
“I joined Pueblo Care’s because, it’s the right thing for the city to avoid this disaster,” Winner said. “Black Hills Energy is not going to roll over.”
Casey Demoss, is not affiliated with either side, she’s with a group called Americans for Common Sense Energy Policies (ACSEP).
She did a study that shows over the past 19 years, out of 60 governments that have attempted to municipalize utility only nine were successful.
“An essential service, like electricity, should be treated delicately,” said DeMoss. “The reason they are monopolies is because it doesn’t make sense for a lot of different companies to put up poles, lines, and build power plants those things are too expensive.”
FOX21 asked Demoss if ACSEP is receiving money from Black Hills Energy, she said absolutely not.
Nicoll said they’ve crunched the numbers, through their own fesibility studies.
“We took a long time to study this number, and hire an expert in the field, to come in and look at all those detailed numbers, and the reports show it absolute is possible and it can be done. So, number-wise it’s there,” Nicoll said.
“Well its possible, there are studies that saying,” Winner said. “This is extremely expensive.”
The ACSEP study shows the reason why most of them fail: it turns out they are way more expensive than they originally thought.
“Voting for the ordinance doesn’t necessarily guarantee we are going to go forward with municipalization. We’ll go forward and explore it as a city as far as possible. If it would turn out there was something really wrong with it, there’s still the opportunity to turn back.,” Nicoll said.
“I cant even say how much time this is going to waste,” said Winner.
Here’s Demoss’s advice for Pueblo:
“If their goals are to lower rates and help consumers and deal with climate change, regulation might be a better choice,” Demoss said. “The investor-owned utilities, have had some bad behavior and they should definitely be held accountable. That’s why I encourage the cities to band together and go to the utility commission, make the regulators do their job!”
The Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder said the turnout for the May 5 election is already high for this election for more information on how to turn in your ballot tap here.
FOX21 got multiple tips that the Pueblo Cares campaign was being funded mostly by Black Hills Energy and not disclosing it. Chris Nicoll comments on funding, so does Lori Winner.