Xcel eyes three Silverthorne sites for substation | SummitDaily.com

Xcel eyes three Silverthorne sites for substation

summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado

SILVERTHORNE ” Xcel Energy has identified a location on Ptarmigan mountain east of Silverthorne as the leading candidate for a new power substation, according to officials at an open house Wednesday.

The site on the Daley Ranch scored higher in the utility’s ratings than two other finalists ” the historic TYL Ranch north of town and a second location on the Daley Ranch farther south of the preferred “Site 10,” Xcel representatives indicated.

“Those three sites have emerged as leading candidates, but we haven’t decided on any of the three of them,” said Xcel spokesman Mark Stutz. “There’s nothing that’s out of play.”

The utility company initially had considered about two dozen potential sites for a substation that everyone concedes will be needed but which no one wants visible from ” or near ” their homes.

“Everybody is selfish and provincial, right?” one resident chuckled self-consciously as he examined the computer-generated view from his home of the proposed site on the TYL Ranch.

More than 100 residents milled about a half-dozen displays at the Silverthorne Pavilion during the informal gathering, poring over maps and asking pointed questions of power-company representatives. Xcel officials say the substation is needed to handle the growing area’s demand.

“We’ve kind of reached a point that by 2013, we forecast outages … if we leave things the way they are,” Stutz said.

Utility officials next will consider the written public comments and feedback from Summit County, which rejected a 1999 proposal for a substation at the southern end of Ptarmigan because it didn’t match county plans.

Xcel officials are expected to choose a site by April, and construction would occur over the next two summers.

Although Stutz said that “public involvement does mean something,” in reality, the utility may place the substation over local objections, even commandeering the land through imminent domain.

That prospect haunts Ed McVaney, owner of the century-old TYL Ranch.

“I don’t want to be a whiner … but this would destroy our ranch,” he said. “You can hire attorneys and try to fight it, but Public Service and the Public Utilities Commission has the master trump card, and you’ll lose. Wherever they decide, it goes.”

Leigh Girvin, director of the Continental Divide Land Trust, also expressed hope that the utility would avoid the TYL Ranch, which is prized for its scenic values.

“They all give me heartburn, but the other two give me less heartburn,” Girvin said. “The solution is we either all go solar, or we learn to live with it.”

McVaney advocated placing the substation at Site 10, but ” acknowledging “I have a vested interest in how it turns out” ” he conceded that residents across the valley in Ruby Ranch might not be too pleased with that choice.

“We know we’re not going to make everybody happy,” Stutz said. “But we hope that through the process, we get some sort of a community consensus on the best place for this.”

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