The Town of Eaton announces a comprehensive settlement with Xcel Energy in its litigation with the Town. After a rigorous examination of the merits of the case and the unlikelihood of prevailing at either the District Court or the Public Utilities Commission, the Town staff and Board of Trustees believes, based on feedback from its litigation team, that it is best to settle with the best possible terms for the citizens, schools, and businesses of Eaton. Under the proposed terms of the settlement, the Town has negotiated the following:
- Upon completion of the project, Xcel shall monitor the electromagnetic field (EMF’s) for a period of five years and provide an annual report each year to the Town. The monitoring report shall include measurements from three separate locations in Eaton Commons Park.
- Within 30 days of the execution of the settlement agreement, Xcel shall 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 a public open house at 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 with the Town, providing $300,000 to the Town. These funds will be used for such things as trail connections, park equipment, and parking lot improvements as well as other appropriate uses for Eaton Commons Park enhancements.
- Xcel will improve the proposed landscaping at the substation by including additional shrubs and wall enhancements.
- 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.
Xcel had previously filed a complaint with the Weld County District Court in reference to the denial of the Special Use Permit by the Board of Trustees during the March 17 meeting and subsequently filed an appeal to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission who has jurisdiction in the matter. Since that time, the Town has been evaluating paths forward with the litigation and has retained specialized legal counsel on the matter. Interim Town Administrator Wesley LaVanchy stated, “this is a less than ideal position for the Town and the residents with well-meaning people on both sides of the contested issues. 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!” Eaton Mayor Scott Moser also commented, “I want to thank the citizens of Eaton for their input on this matter and for your patience as we have sought to find the best path forward for the community with the options available to us on this application.”