By Dennis Webb

The Colorado River District and Xcel Energy on Tuesday signed a historic agreement for the $98.5 million purchase of the utility’s Shoshone hydroelectric power plant water rights that go far to control Colorado River flows in western Colorado due to their senior nature.

The action kicks off what could be a multi-year process to meet the fundraising and other conditions that the river district and Xcel will need to meet before the acquisition can be completed.

The entities inked the purchase agreement on Tuesday after the river district board approved it in a special meeting, and also authorized contributing $20 million for the purchase from district community funding partnership revenue that is generated by a property tax measure approved by voters in 2020.

“How does history feel? It feels pretty good today, doesn’t it,” state Rep. Marc Catlin, R-Montrose, also vice president of the river district board, said in a signing ceremony for the deal in Glenwood Springs.