Updated on May 22, 2021
Resolution 2021-060 includes, among other items, the appointment of the City Manager to the Platte River Power Authority (PRPA) Board along with Councilmember Julie Pignataro. The Fort Collins Sustainability Group (FCSG) does not believe it would be appropriate to appoint the City Manager or any other member of City staff to that governing body.
For the past decade or so, two councilmembers have represented Fort Collins on the PRPA Board. This arrangement has served our City well, as that board has increasingly been responsible for setting policies that will help determine the success or failure of reaching our community’s climate and clean energy goals. With help from Fort Collins’ two councilmembers on the board, the PRPA made a commitment in 2018 to work toward a 100% non-carbon energy mix by 2030, which will be critical to achieving our greenhouse gas pollution reduction goal for that year.
The other three municipalities that co-own the PRPA are represented by their Mayors and Utilities Directors. The Utilities Directors have generally done more to hamper than support progress toward the 2030 goal over the past several years. They have been too willing to take assertions made by PRPA staff at face value, and have been at best indifferent toward the importance of addressing the climate crisis. One has repeatedly contradicted and undermined his City’s Mayor.
Partly as a result of the role played by the other municipalities’ Utilities Directors, the PRPA approved a flawed Integrated Resource Plan last year that calls for building a new natural gas-fired power plant in 2030 – the same year the Authority is supposed to achieve a 100% non-carbon energy mix. PRPA staff has also managed to resist sensible, repeated calls by several board members to establish an interim goal on the path to zero carbon electricity by 2030.
Rather than revert to the outdated model of appointing either the Utilities Director or another member of City staff to the PRPA Board, Fort Collins should be encouraging its sister municipalities to appoint either councilmembers or others who will a) have the time and expertise to serve, b) be answerable directly to their councils – not to senior City management, and c) be prepared to vigorously promote council policies on the PRPA Board.
We urge a councilmember to step into the second PRPA Board member role. Barring that, we urge council to initiate a process now to select the second PRPA board member. Former councilmember Cunniff can continue to serve in an interim capacity until that selection is made, or can serve on a long-term basis if necessary. We need two PRPA board members in place as soon as possible who will focus on our City’s ambitious climate and clean energy goals and who will be in lockstep with council on the importance of achieving those goals.
Update: At its meeting on May 18th, the Fort Collins City Council appointed Mayor Jeni Arndt and Councilmember Julie Pignataro to serve on the PRPA Board.