Xcel has decided that it wants to build a new 345kV transmission line adjacent to an old 230kV line on existing right of way. Xcel purports that this new line is necessary to transport wind (and other) power from northern Colorado to the southeast Denver metro area.
The problem? The project snakes through numerous dense housing and commercial developments that have been built right up to the edge of the existing right of way in the towns of Parker and Aurora. Watch Xcel's route flyover video to understand the full madness of the plan. What were you thinking, Xcel? How did you expect the people who live in all those houses would react?
Introducing Halt the Powerlines. The affected residents have attempted to work with Xcel to find acceptable alternatives, but they have been met with stubborn resistance to change and spurious claims about property values and health issues in an attempt to convince them to accept the project as proposed and that there is no problem.
Apparently Xcel believes that getting into an entrenched public relations battle with the citizens' group is going to be less costly than working with the community to alter the design to be more acceptable, or bury sections of the line. I think they're wrong.
So does this guy, who has developed the concept of social ecology to get infrastructure sited and approved without costly community battles. Gary Severson proposes that a company actually get to know the community before dumping a project on it. I would take that one farther and suggest that a company get to know the communities BEFORE designing the project in the first place! Trying to get a community to accept a project that was not designed to be acceptable is like trying to jam a square peg into a round hole.
If Xcel truly knew the towns affected by its Pawnee-Daniels Park project, it would realize that its project is never going to happen as designed. It's too close to too many people. Educated opposition has developed that cannot be ameliorated by tossing defensive studies at the crowd. Xcel has already become the self-interested entity that is not to be trusted. The only way this project will ever get built is for Xcel to go back to the drawing board with the community members and an open mind to find an acceptable alternative.
As Severson concludes:
Project managers and regulators are well
aware of the effects of community issues on
project schedules, costs, and eventual success
or failure. Traditional public relations efforts
employed by project proponents and citizen
participation requirements of regulatory
agencies are often interpreted by communities
as what the proponent is planning to “do to
us.” There is a better way. Social ecology
includes the impacted communities into the
project so that citizens interpret proposed
actions as what the proponent is trying to “do
with us” to improve our quality of life.