POLITICS
09/04/2013 01:57 pm ET

This Is How To Fight Big Energy Companies In Your Local Community

Still feeling like you can't do anything to change the world? Well, just take a look at this Colorado nonprofit's video that has gone viral and feel that apathy just wash right out of your mind.

In 2011, Boulder voters approved a charter amendment that authorized the city council to form a municipal electric utility based on renewable, affordable energy, rather than coal. It was a big victory for the little guys -- while supporters of the local energy utility spent $106,760 on their campaign, Xcel Energy spent a whopping $960,689 on theirs. Despite being outspent nearly 10-1, the local effort won and the amendment passed.

Now New Era Colorado, a small Boulder, Colo.-based nonprofit, is faced with another fight against energy giant Xcel. If a new Boulder ballot initiative supported by the company passes, it could stop the local electric utility movement in its tracks. New Era is hoping to spread the word and gain support for the grassroots effort to preserve the progress toward renewable, independent energy. The group describes its mission on its Indigogo page:

We have a rare opportunity to create a turning point for the climate movement, and we need your help to overpower the one thing that stands in our way. Boulder is on the verge of taking the biggest step it can to combat climate change--but the coal industry is prepared to spend whatever it takes to stop us, and to keep other communities from getting ideas and getting organized. Defeating the coal industry is as much about our community as it is about yours--which is why we need your help, and fast.

Boulder wants to break away from our current, coal-dominated utility--Xcel Energy--to create a local electric utility based on renewable energy. Feasibility studies have shown we could reduce our carbon emissions by over 50% immediately by shifting to cleaner energy. And we wouldn’t have to pay more than we do now, because we could afford a lot more renewable energy if we’re not paying for Xcel’s enormous profit margins. This is an incredible opportunity to create a landmark model for how communities all over the country can take control of their energy future.

Only one thing stands in our way: to stop us, Xcel Energy has helped place a misleading measure on our fall ballot that would kill our local electric utility process dead in its tracks-- and they're probably prepared to spend a lot to win. They know our victory would inspire communities across the country to follow suit and create their own cleaner, cheaper utilities based on renewable energy. They don’t want other communities wondering what they could afford if they stop paying millions in profits to the utility industry.

On Tuesday, Upworthy featured New Era's video, making it a viral smash, and helping New Era more than double their initial fundraising goal. And as of Wednesday, New Era has already passed their second goal, raising $100,127. The groups says the money will be used to register voters, train volunteers and get the message out.

New Era Colorado Executive Director Stephen Fenberg told Upworthy that as of 10 a.m. MST on Tuesday, the popularity of the video post was "mind-blowing!" -- the group's Indiegogo fundraiser page was getting a donation every minute.

For more information on New Era Colorado's campaign against Boulder's new ballot initiative, visit their Indiegogo page.

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