Energy, Utilities & Water  August 19, 2022

Eaton, Xcel reach agreement on substation

EATON — Eaton and Xcel Energy Inc. (Nasdaq: XEL) have reached a settlement in a dispute over placement of a substation and the potential electromagnetic field radiation that could result.

The town denied a special-use permit in March, which resulted in a lawsuit filed in Weld County District Court and a filing with the Public Utilities Commission.

In a statement Friday, Wesley LaVanchy, Eaton interim town administrator, said the town determined that it was unlikely to win in the long term and that compromises offered by Xcel were in the best interests of the town.

“This is a less than ideal position for the town and the residents with well-meaning people on both sides of the contested issues,” LaVanchy said. “We are trying to make the best of where we find ourselves. The likelihood of the town prevailing at both the court and the commission is remote, and there is no need to spend additional taxpayer money on this effort. We believe the comprehensive settlement offers the best path forward with required reporting and park-mitigation efforts.

“In addition, the new upgrades from Xcel will reduce power outages for residences, businesses and schools and will modernize Eaton’s electrical grid for current and future generations.” 

Terms of the settlement agreement, as included in a press statement, included:

  • Upon completion of the project, Xcel will monitor the electromagnetic fields for a period of five years and provide an annual report to the town. The monitoring will include measurements from three locations in Eaton Commons Park.
  • Xcel will provide information from two reputable independent parties on EMF safety; a paired sales analysis of the impact of high-voltage transmission lines on neighboring residential property values; and a copy of Xcel’s agricultural mitigation plan associated with the project.
  • Xcel will host an open house in Eaton with a qualified human-health expert who specializes in EMF research to address citizen concerns and answer questions.
  • Xcel will complete a park mitigation and funding agreement for Eaton Commons Park, providing $300,000 to the town. The money will be used for trail connections, park equipment and parking lot improvements as well as other appropriate uses.
  • Xcel will improve the proposed landscaping at the substation.
  • Xcel’s construction of the transmission lines will substantially conform with the proposal it provided in its application to the Eaton Planning and Zoning Commission and Town Board.
  • Once the appeal periods have passed, Xcel will dismiss its pending litigation in Weld County District Court and its subsequent appeal to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.
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