A criminal jury trial in Denver began on May 31 against Xcel Energy Inc., Minneapolis, and its local subsidiary Public Service Co. of Colorado, over a combined 10 federal safety violations that led to five worker deaths on Oct. 2, 2007. Five painters, ranging in age from 19 to 52, died when they were overcome by carbon monoxide when a fire erupted while they were spraying an epoxy coating sealant inside a 12-ft-dia., 4,000-ft-long water drainage pipe, or penstock, at an Xcel facility. The accident occurred at the 44-year-old, 1.2-MW Cabin Creek hydroelectric plant, located 35 miles west of Denver.
The market is generally healthy and steadily growing, and margins are up for large specialty contractors. Further, advances in design tools and owner demand for collaboration are giving subcontractors a seat at the table early on in projects.