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Pueblo City Council discusses public power utility option

Posted at 9:50 PM, May 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-07 00:14:45-04

PUEBLO – The City of Pueblo is looking at new ways to power the community and do it cheaper.

One option is to establish a public power utility, similar to what Colorado Springs has.

Pueblo has been using Black Hills Energy for several years and some people have said that they’re unhappy with the services they’ve received and with increased rates.

On Monday night, the city council had a special work session to get details about switching to a public power utility and what the next steps would involve.

Pueblo City Councilman Chris Nicoll said, “There’s been kind of a long history of rate increases from Black Hills and just some of the business practices where people were having their power shut off and had trouble getting it turned back on.”

It’s a concern for Nicoll and he wants to look at going a different route.

“There’s a number of options that we can go where we actually would take over the actual power plant or we can also look at how we would just…buy power off the grid for the city…I really think it’s important that we continue to explore this and proceed into the Phase II study.”

The Phase I study launched by the Energy Utility Commission revealed that a public power utility is achievable and that over time it will reduce rate costs by 10 to 12 percent, costing people less than what they pay Black Hills. Now, it’s on to Phase II which will include a business plan to figure out how much everything will cost and the impact on taxpayers.

“I’m not for it,” said City Councilman Bob Schilling. He said that the study will cost about $234,000 and will come right out of the city’s general fund.

In regards to the proposal in general Schilling said, “The savings I don’t think, when you finally get into the whole profit/loss thing, is going to be that great.”

He fears that if the plan actually comes to fruition it could cost people more than what they’re already paying.

A vote on whether or not the council wants to move forward with the Phase II study will most likely happen at next week’s city council meeting on May 13th.