Xcel, subsidiary acquitted in hydropower plant deaths trial

Xcel Energy and subsidiary Public Service Company of Colorado have been acquitted of charges in a criminal trial over the deaths of five workers in a fire at Cabin Creek hydropower project in 2007, wire services reported.

A U.S. District Court jury returned the not guilty verdicts on the second day of deliberations after a 16-day trial in Denver, Colo., Reuters reported.

Xcel and subsidiary Public Service Company of Colorado each were each charged with five counts of violating federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration regulations and causing deaths.

The workers – who were employed by subcontractor RPI Coating Inc - were in a tunnel at the Colorado hydroelectric plant when a fire occurred and their escape was blocked. RPI Coating and two executives are due to stand trial later this year.

Federal officials investigating the fire concluded in 2010 that the accident was caused by several safety failures, according to a report from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board.

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