Pueblo Voters Reject Ballot Issue Aimed At Forming Municipal Utility

<p>(Nathaniel Minor/CPR News)</p>
<p>Electrical transmissions lines carry power from the Craig Station coal-fired power plant near Craig, Colo. on Tuesday, June 16, 2015.</p>

Nearly 77 percent of Pueblo voters rejected a ballot issue that would have severed ties with investor-owned utility Black Hills Energy, and formed a separate electrical utility.

“This community is very savvy when it comes to voting,” said city councilmember Lori Winner, who opposed 2A. “Our citizens did the research and they voted accordingly.”

Opponents, represented by Pueblo CARES, said forming a municipal utility would only serve to drive up electrical costs for customers. 

Ballot Issue 2A would have ended the city’s contract with current electrical service provider Black Hills Energy. It also would have required the Pueblo Board of Water Works to establish and manage a municipal power company.

"The Bring Power Home 2020 campaign is of course disappointed with this decision," said BTPH's David Cockrell. "We will continue to be locked in to the highest electric rates on Colorado’s Front Range, and we will remain at the mercy of Black Hills and the Public Utilities Commission for energy justice and decisions about access to renewable energy."

Proponents had cited a feasibility study that estimates 10-18 percent savings in bills for customers. They also raised concerns about Black Hills’ cutoff and restoration policies, which they see as too harsh.

Spending in the campaign was lopsided. Pueblo CARES raised $1.5 million compared to BTPH’s $31,000.