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Thornton residents fight to keep new electric substation away from their homes

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THRONTON, Colo. --    Homeowners in the Marshall Lake subdivision want to cut the cord to a proposed electrical substation near East 136th Avenue and Holly Street in Thornton.

Xcel Energy is proposing a substation that neighbors fear could cause health issues and hurt property values.

Casey Lemieux lives just 75 feet from the site.

He’s been collecting signatures for a petition that asks Xcel and city leaders to consider a different location.  “At this point right now, we have over 200 signatures. The neighborhood is really against this,” said Lemieux.

The 48-year-old bought his house in the new subdivision a year ago and says his backyard view will be ruined if the substation gets built across the street. "The view is one thing but the health concerns are really our  major thing. My daughter going to Horizon High, she`s going to be in the EMF for 24 hours a day. My wife works from home, same thing ,” said Lemieux.

EMF stands for "electromagnetic fields."

Residents like Shelly Moe fear proximity to a substation could expose them to higher cancer rates and birth defects. “Biggest concern is health concerns right now.  I mean we have our 1-year-old daughter and we`re definitely planning on having more children and just the thought of possible birth defects and that kind of stuff, all the unbiased reports are very concerning,” said Moe.

Xcel Energy disputes the studies neighbors refer to and says the substation is needed by the summer of 2016 to provide electricity  to nearly 50,000 customers moving to the area.

“Hundreds of studies conducted since the 1970s have found no conclusive evidence that exposure to EMF causes health effects of any kind, including cancer,” said Mark Stutz, spokesman for Xcel Energy.  In fact, Xcel Energy says people face greater exposure to EMF’s from home appliances than they would from a neighborhood substation.

But neighbors in Marshall Lake aren’t convinced and insist substations are an eyesore that would bring down property values.  “A hundred thousand dollar decrease overnight?  No thank you, that`s our life right there,” said Moe referring to her house, recently appraised at around $400,000.

Lemieux thinks Xcel needs to find a new location, far from any subdivisions. “It needs to go somewhere where it`s safe for everybody.“

Xcel Energy is holding a public meeting Wednesday night from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.  The open house takes place at the “Anythink Library at Wright Farms” at East 120th Avenue and Holly Street in Thornton.