Xcel Energy previously conducted a siting study in this area, and in August 2018, the company filed an application with Weld County to determine approval and final route of the proposed transmission line. However, based on comments from the public during the County Commission hearing in June 2019, the company requested to withdraw its permit application. Xcel Energy subsequently re·evaluated the approach of the previous study and resolved to begin again with a fresh planning approach that allows for additional public outreach and engagement.
In fall 2019, Xcel Energy developed a comprehensive planning process, integrating public outreach and providing community meetings at key milestones of the process. As part of the public outreach, a Community Working Group (CWG) has been established, comprised of local citizens with diverse community interests, to work with the project team throughout the planning studies. The first CWG meeting and first public open house were held in person in November 2019. The second CWG meeting and public open house were held in January 2020. The comments provided during and after these meetings not only provided valuable insight from the community, but also contributed local perspective to siting and routing as well as recommendations for measures to minimize or mitigate potential effects.
The third CWG and public open house were originally scheduled for late March and April 2020 respectively. However, due to COVID-19 health and safety concerns, these meetings were postponed. Committed to working with the community to develop a viable solution to the growing energy needs in this area, and mindful of community and employee safety, Xcel Energy hosted the third CWG meeting and public open houses as virtual meetings in May and June 2020, respectively. The town-hall open houses were held on the following dates:
Thursday, June 11, 2020: 6 to 7 p.m. (in English); 7 to 8 p.m. (in Spanish) Wednesday, June 17, 2020: 5 to 6 p.m. (in English); 6 to 7 p.m. (in Spanish)
Xcel Energy also held its fourth CWG meeting and the fourth public open houses virtually in July and September 2020, respectively, to present the preliminary preferred route and route alternative. The fourth open houses were held on the following dates:
Tuesday, September 22, 2020; 5 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, September 30, 2020; 6 to 7 p.m.
Xcel Energy will host another Virtual Town Hall meeting on Wednesday, May 19, 2021, from 6 to 7 p.m. to project status and the results of the planning process and stakeholder discussions.
As part of the public outreach program developed specifically for the project, Xcel Energy organized the Community Working Group (CWG): a group of local citizens who represent a range of community interests. They were asked to consider their own views and those of the citizens they represent, forming a link to their respective communities. The CWG participates in comprehensive discussions of relevant issues, receiving detailed information about the project and its planning process.
Members of the CWG were selected based on recommendations from local elected officials, other community leaders, and Xcel Energy personnel. Also important to the project is their knowledge of the area, capability to commit the time required to participate in the CWG throughout the project, and willingness to participate. The CWG has been asked for input in many areas including the following:
Four CWG meetings were planned at the outset of the project to be held at key milestones, prior to public open houses and/or key decisions, integrated with the siting study process:
CWG Meeting #1, held November 5, 2019, focused on introducing the project; explaining the purpose, role, and responsibilities of the CWG; reviewing the need for and description of the project; reviewing community issues and concerns identified to date; and reviewing the preliminary study area and planned routing and siting approach.
CWG Meeting #2, held January 16, 2020, focused on reviewing public comments from Open House #1, reviewing results of environmental resource data gathered, discussing constraints to and opportunities for siting alternative routes, explaining impact assessment and opportunities for mitigating impacts, and discussing plans for the next public Open House #2 scheduled for January 28, 2020.
CWG Meeting #3, held online May 28, 2020, focused on reviewing the comments received from public Open House Meeting #2 and providing information about how the team is responding to the comments, reviewing the comparison and ranking of alternative routes, reviewing Xcel Energy’s technical criteria and preliminary results, and requesting input to reach a solution that is acceptable to both the public and Xcel Energy.
CWG Meeting #4, held online July 16, 2020, focused on reviewing public comments from Open House #3, and reviewing and discussing identification of a preferred alternative route and substation location for submittal to county and municipal permitting authorities for review and approval.
CWG Meeting #5, held online April 28, 2021, focused on updating the CWG on the overall status of the project and sharing recent activities related to identifying a final route for the transmission line that Xcel Energy will propose to Weld County and the Town of Eaton for approval.
Agriculture, Oil and Gas, Small Local Business, Environmental, Chamber of Commerce, Great Western Trail, School District, Local government – Town and Eaton and Town of Ault, Landowners
Xcel Energy remains as committed as ever to its open dialogue with the public, providing consistent updates and project information, and creating opportunities for members of the community to provide feedback and ask questions. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine, however, Xcel Energy has had to alter its planned community outreach methods so that both the community and its employees remain safe and healthy.
May 19, 6:00- 7:00 p.m.