Voters grant San Isabel Electric franchise

A Colorado electric cooperative won a victory at the polls last week, when voters in Pueblo approved a measure allowing it to serve inside the city limits.  With 78 percent of the vote, San Isabel Electric Co-op, Pueblo, will receive a franchise to continue serving existing members in an industrial park where city officials want to attract more businesses.

The Nov. 1 victory “was critically important to the co-op,” said Reg Rudolph, general manager, because it could mean bigger loads and future growth for San Isabel.  “The industrial park is prime real estate in southern Colorado, with access to rail, an interstate highway system, natural gas and electric facilities, a strong community college and four-year university — things that are needed to foster economic development in an area.”

Currently, the co-op and city officials are “deep in negotiations” with two companies considering the park, Rudolph said.

At issue in Question 2A were split service boundaries within the St. Charles Industrial Park, which sits south of Interstate 25. The business park’s northern half is served by Black Hills Energy, an investor-owned utility, while the southern portion fell into the co-op’s service area.  While state regulators allowed it to serve the southern portion, the co-op still needed a franchise from the City of Pueblo to do so.

“We didn’t have the right to serve the area, even though the state granted us permission. So we had to go through the political process to a grant a franchise,” Rudolph explained. “We described it as a housekeeping issue.”

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