Solar co-op launches in Boulder County
Boulder County has launched its first solar co-op.
The project, which kicked off on Monday, Sept. 18, is a collaboration between Boulder County, the municipalities of Boulder, Lafayette, Louisville, Erie, Superior, Lyons, and Nederland, and the nonprofit Solar United Neighbors (SUN). It’s free to join and open to all homeowners and small business owners in Boulder County.
Solar co-ops are a group of property owners who purchase solar panels at a group rate from a single installer. According to SUN, co-op membership saves money compared to purchasing independently, and opportunities to learn more about solar technology and financing.
“This new co-op is about taking action to create a better tomorrow,” Boulder County Commissioner Ashley Stolzmann said in a press release. “It’s about increasing access to renewable solar energy by reducing upfront costs, building local resilience, and taking bold strides towards cutting out the fossil fuels causing the climate chaos we’re all experiencing.”
After a competitive bidding process facilitated by SUN, a solar company will be selected to complete installations. The co-op has nearly 100 members as of publication and is halfway to its member goal. The deadline for residents to sign up is Nov. 30.
— Lily Fletcher
Boulder’s 2024 recommended budget
The City of Boulder’s recommended budget for 2024 is slightly higher than last year’s, and includes increased funding to human services projects, but a reduction in allocations to transportation and mobility.
The proposed budget is $514.8 million across all funds, with an operating budget of $374.1 million and capital budget of $140.7 million. The City estimates this year’s budget is nearly 5% higher than the 2023 approved budget in terms of operating expenses, though the number appears lower due to changes in bond proceeds practices.
But staff say the City is operating in a “constrained environment.” Mark Woulf, Boulder’s senior budget manager, says that’s due to a combination of factors including the rapid restoration of City-funded services following the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, additional demand on City services, and “inflationary pressure.” Half the City’s revenue comes from sales and use tax, making its budget somewhat dependent on external economic conditions.
Certain funds, like the $6.5 million the City receives each year from its Climate Tax, are “dedicated funding” sources, revenues restricted to a specific purpose. The City estimates about 70% of all revenues are dedicated.
Woulf says this collective environment limits the City’s flexibility.
“As we have these emerging community needs or shifting priorities, that makes it hard to shift quickly without seeking voter approval to do something differently,” he says.
But change is on the horizon. In November, a ballot measure will ask residents to decide whether to renew the 0.15% sales tax that is set to expire at the end of 2024. If approved, half the money will be allocated to “support arts, culture and heritage” and half to the general fund. If it expires, even after a potential November 2024 follow-up vote, the City will have to reduce more than $7 million of expenses currently programmed in the general fund.
Boulder’s 2024 budget also includes nearly $3 million more for Housing and Human Services, with $43.5 million dedicated to the social services organization.
More than $2 million of that increase is devoted to human services, which includes programs like behavioral health and non-law enforcement response. Woulf says that’s one area where the City has shifted to meet community demand.
However, Transportation & Mobility was $2 million less than last year, leading some Council members to voice concern over the City’s ability to fix potholes on City-owned streets.
There’s already conversation about how the “Prime Effect” — the emergence of CU football as a nation-wide craze — might impact Boulder’s budget. While the City is expecting more revenue from sales tax, Woulf says it’s too early to predict how it will impact budgeting.
Council can propose changes to the recommended budget. The City currently expects to adopt the official budget by Oct. 19. More about the City’s budget at bit.ly/2024BoulderBudget.
— Will Matuska
NSF awards CU research center
The JILA Physics Frontier Center (JILA PFC) is receiving a $25 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to continue research into quantum systems over the next six years.
Founded in 1962, JILA, housed on the campus of CU Boulder, brings together 20 researchers who explore the nature of the quantum many-particle systems that govern the evolution of the universe. JILA PFC is housed within the JILA institute, which is a collaboration between the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the university.
JILA is one of four physics research centers that will receive between $14 million and $25 million from NSF.
“Research teams at NSF Physics Frontiers Centers have made breakthrough after breakthrough, such as creating remarkable new states of matter and revealing the first evidence for the gravitational wave background of the universe,” NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan said in a press release. “While different in their respective areas of focus, NSF’s newly funded centers are all bold team efforts to punch through to exciting new vistas of scientific exploration.”
— Will Matuska
In case you missed it
By the numbers: Coach Prime changes the herd
Coach Deion Sanders’ impact on the Colorado Buffaloes this year “ain’t hard to find.” Here are some ways the former NFL star has changed the herd thus far:
The Buffs are now garnering college football’s most expensive ticket. The cheapest ticket for the Buffs’ next home game on Sept. 30 against the University of Southern California is $377, and the average resale ticket price for a sold out home game is $506. The team’s growing popularity is following them on the road too: The average ticket price for the Oregon game in Eugene on Sept. 23 is $242, according to Ticketiq. According to SeatGeek, the average single ticket price for a 2022 CU Boulder football game was $61.
The university announced on Sept. 19 that home game tickets are sold out for the entire season for the first time in school history. Tickets are still available through secondary vendors like SeatGeek.
According to an ESPN post on X (formerly Twitter *sigh*), the CU versus Colorado State game was the fifth most watched game in the network’s history, with an average of 9.3 million viewers and a peak of 11 million. It was the company’s most-streamed regular season college football game of all time.
The City of Longmont is distributing a survey to understand how extreme heat impacts residents and what they do to stay cool. Complete the survey at bit.ly/LongmontHeatSurvey and become eligible for a $10 electric bill credit.
Unincorporated Boulder County will see a minimum wage increase to $15.69 per hour, 15% above Colorado’s minimum wage, on Jan. 1, 2024. There are multiple ways for residents to provide feedback on the future of minimum wage in Boulder County:
Fill out an online survey by Oct. 16 at bit.lyBCMinimum WageSurvey.
Attend an in-person Town Hall event on Oct. 12 at 5:30 p.m. at Left Hand Grange, 195 2nd Ave., Niwot.
Comment in-person, over Zoom or by phone at a County Commissioners hearing on Nov. 2. Registration links and further details will be available in the Commissioners’ Advance Agenda on Friday, Oct. 20. Sign up for the agenda at