I saw the stats early this morning that the Climate Action Plan measure placed on the ballot by the City Council passed. Starting next year businesses and homeowners in the Boulder city limits will have a special carbon tax applied to their electric bills if they get their power through conventional electricity (coal or natural gas). If they convert to solar or wind power, they will be exempt from the tax. The city will use the revenue to promote energy efficiency to the same homeowners and businesses, among some other activities that I can’t remember related to promoting the use of alternative energy sources. The city government is also moving forward with a plan to reduce its carbon emissions, to try to meet the goals of the Kyoto Protocol. More power to ’em.
The City Council has had serious discussions about possibly having the city government run its own electrical utility, but that’s been tabled for now. Expect it to come back up again down the road.
Pundits here, liberal and conservative, predicted that Boulder citizens would pass this measure, because it’s a do-good thing to do. We’re suckers for that kind of stuff. In my opinion what this will do is continue to drive businesses out of town. They can go to Longmont, Lafayette, Louisville, Superior, or Broomfield–just over the hill, be close to Boulder, and not have to pay the tax. It kind of spoils the whole business incentive thing we had going just a couple months ago. It’s redundant, because Xcel Energy regularly offers its customers wind power…at an increased rate. It also regularly offers tips and consulting services, showing homeowners and businesses how to be more energy efficient. They offer purchasing plans for people who want to buy energy-efficient appliances. They’ve been doing this for years. The price of power is a motivator for people to be more energy efficient.
What this does is increase the city’s tax revenue, so it can raise the wages of city workers, and hire more people. The city government is already the #1 employer in Boulder. Has been for years, perhaps decades. There was even a provision in the ballot measure that said if the city raises excess revenue, more than what’s needed for the program, the city gets to use it for whatever it wants.
I can see it now. Since the city is focusing on carbon emissions, why not go after another large source of carbon emissions–cars and trucks? Could we be looking at a municipal gas tax down the road? Seeing this, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit.