Gilliland; Power substation forum a sham
Excel Energy has announced a 5:30 p.m., August 5 community forum at the Silverthorne Pavilion on its proposed power substation. Attendees, prepare to witness a public relations masterpiece – controlled communication that ridicules the word “forum.”
If this forum matches the company’s info-sham meeting in February, the following techniques will be used:
1. Don’t quote me: “Information” booths staffed by consultants, who said things like, “While I can’t speak for the company, I think that the new substation will make an attractive addition to the local landscape.” No information provider we talked to could speak officially for Excel Energy.
2. Skewed surveys: A contrived public survey asked citizens questions similar to, “Do you like it when the lights come on?” and, “Do you hate it when blackouts occur?” Survey results then provided Excel Energy a public mandate approving the power substation’s location on private agricultural ranch lands.
3. Smokescreen techniques: The meeting featured no group presentation by an Excel company executive. No question and answer session allowed dynamic group interchange. The company controlled the information flow so that only selected issues received attention. Consultants on these limited issues offered only vague and non-committal answers to citizen questions. The lack of a single integrated message provided no framework for attendees, who were then reduced to confusion, trying to think of questions to ask with no facts to base those questions upon.
4. Subterfuge tactics: A large color photograph “proved” that the view from Silverthorne would remain unobstructed by the then-proposed ten-acre substation. However, the photo was taken from the Silverthorne Recreation Center, where a large hill blocks the proposed substation from view. Key Silverthorne neighborhoods will have their views impacted by the preferred substation site, which is located directly across from and above Willowbrook. They are Ruby Ranch, Willowbrook, Willowbrook Highlands, Three Peaks, Eagles Nest and Hamilton Creek. The company knew this, yet presented a “no visual impact” photo from the
hill-protected rec center location.
Few would dispute a new power substation, if it is actually needed. But most who value their quality of life would challenge the location of a power substation on Excel Energy’s presently-preferred site no. 10, a heavily-treed aspen glade on pristine ranchlands ridge in plain view of many Silverthorne residents.
Pretty much everyone, however, would question the non-Colorado-based, for-profit company’s public information strategy – controlled information, smokescreen and subterfuge.
Mary Ellen and Larry Gilliland, Silverthorne
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