Pueblo community rallies to unplug from Black Hills Energy

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PUEBLO, Colo. — A rally was held Monday evening before the City Council meeting in an effort to urge the council to cut ties with Black Hills Energy and put the option of public power on the ballot in May.

A group called “Bring Power Home 2020 Campaign” led the effort in the hopes that a publicly-owned electric power utility would be created to bring more jobs to Pueblo and bring the power home to the ratepayers.

“We need the Pueblo City Council to show leadership in this issue, we need them to take the lead to put a ballot measure on the ballot,” said Sally Sharpe, Coordinator of Bring Power Home 2020 Campaign. “We think it’s best for Pueblo, we think that Pueblo businesses have been stifled and put out of business because the electricity rates are too high.”

The Electric Utility Commission was present at the meeting and presented their recommendation to the council on what to do going forward.

During the meeting, the EUC recommended proceeding with the “offramp,” which would allow the community to cut ties with Black Hills Energy. They said customers will see a reduced rate as a result if they create a public power utility.

Black Hills Energy proposed a cooperative agreement to council on November 11, which would freeze rates for five years to include:

  • No base rate changes before 2024, while:
    • Adding more renewable energy to save money for customers
    • Work to maintain top 25% nationwide reliability

In addition, Black Hills submitted a proposal on Monday to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) outlining a plan that seeks to lower energy costs for customers by adding up to 200 megawatts (MW) of new, low-cost renewable energy resources to its Southern Colorado system.

“Our customers have expressed a strong interest in lower energy costs and having their electricity supplied by clean, renewable energy resources…Our Renewable Advantage plan establishes a clear path for getting this done.”

Vance Crocker, Black Hills Energy’s Vice President, Southern Colorado

More information released Monday from Black Hills Energy is available here.

In the meeting, Mayor Nicholas Gradisar recommended the council should consider all of the options, and if they decided to put it on the May 5 ballot, that will need to finalized and submitted by March 6.

Mayor Gradisar told FOX21:

“I think it’s a possibility, yes, that it’ll be on the ballot in May or some other time before August 10, I mean if City Council doesn’t put it on the ballot, I think it’s likely a group of citizens will petition to get it on the ballot, so, we’re going to work through some of those issues and processes to make sure if it gets on the ballot we can live with and work with.”

Mayor Nicholas Gradisar, Pueblo

San Isabel Electric is also offering to partner with the City of Pueblo to operate their electric utility.

For more information on their proposal, click here.

The next City Council meeting is set for Monday, December 9.

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