After more than two hours of testimony, mostly against, the Adams County Board of Commissioners unanimously rejected Xcel’s Energy proposal to build an electronic distribution substation at of 120th Avenue and Quebec Street.
The vote came about 1:15 a.m. after hearing more than 25 people speak on the issue during a public hearing that began the evening before on July 22. The decision came after the commissioners also denied Xcel’s request to continue the hearing, for a second time, to work with county staff on ways to appease the neighbors who were rejecting the plans.
Both county staff and the planning commission recommended that the board reject the plans — saying Xcel didn’t provide sufficient evidence that another site would not be technically or financially feasible. A staff report pointed out that the area is designated as mixed use neighborhood, which is for housing, commercial, office, parks and open space and that a substation would be contradictory to this designation.
“The proposed project is not compatible with the surrounding area, not harmonious with the character of the neighborhood …” the report said.
Preston Gibson, an area manager with Xcel, said that the substation was needed to provide relief to three other substations that were either at capacity or nearing it and would help prevent power outages.
“The substations that need relief serve nearly 72,000 businesses, residents and other facilities in areas that include Northglenn, Thornton, Commerce City, Westminster, Broomfield, and parts of unincorporated Adams County,” he said.
He added that other potential sites for the substation were too far in distance to the help relieve all three substations.
He pointed out that substations have to be located near a growing community and that while some of the homes in the area aren’t Xcel customers that shopping centers, hospitals, schools and businesses in their community are powered by the company.
Many of the residents in the area of the proposed site spoke against the plan, citing concerns about property value loss and ruining the image of their neighborhood.
“When there is a clear distinct fear or a distaste in the market for something that feeling or that public perception directly impacts market value, it impacts market value just as short sells or foreclosures have, just as remediated meth labs have, substations and power lines are having the same affect in our market,” said Nichole Smith.
A few members of the Metro North Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Adams County Economic Development did speak in favor of the proposed substation, saying it would benefit the businesses in the area and help economic growth.
“Our day-to-day operations and the life providing equipment that we provide to our patients depends on having a reliable source of electricity,” said Jennifer Alderfer, CEO of North Suburban Medical Center.
District 3 Commissioner Erik Hansen rejected the notion that to be pro-business or economic growth that the board would have to support the substation.
“I don’t’ believe that on one hand we’re going to destroy economic development in Adams County if we say no to this project,” he said. “I also don’t believe the property values will be destroyed … I believe the truth is somewhere in-between.”
Hansen said he would rather reject the proposal and work with Xcel to find another site that made more sense. District 1 Chair Eva Henry and District 2 Commissioner Charles “Chez” Tedesco agreed.