Xcel project in south Denver metro area has some flexibility in removing trees

Company meeting with property owners; not certain how many trees may need to be cut

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Some homeowners in Centennial have voiced concern about an Xcel Energy project that will remove trees in some residents' yards, but exactly how many trees may be affected isn't clear.

About 200 single-family homes sit within or adjacent to land where Xcel Energy has the right to make adjustments to its power line system for an upcoming project. In the process, some of those homes will have trees removed or trimmed — and roughly 50 sheds will need to be relocated due to construction access, Xcel says. Most of the residential properties that could be affected are in northwest Centennial.

Xcel says it does not compensate landowners for removal of trees or sheds within the existing right-of-way.

In response to complaints from homeowners, Xcel revised its “vegetation management” plan, said Kelly Flenniken, Xcel's director of community relations. Some trees that Xcel said originally need to be removed can be trimmed instead as a result, she added.

Transmission power lines are maintained to meet or exceed safety standards specified by the National Electric Safety Code and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, or NERC, according to Xcel.

Asked why Xcel can be flexible with which trees it decides to remove, Flenniken said:

“The basis for the tree height limits is our company's vegetation management policies and procedures, which were designed to meet or exceed the NERC requirements. Our standards exceed what NERC requires, which provides some flexibility to work within the range of our standards and NERC's to address landowner concerns.”

Some fences will need to be removed for construction access, Flenniken said.

“When that needs to occur, temporary fencing will be erected in its place during construction,” Flenniken said. “After construction is complete, Xcel Energy will replace the fence sections that are damaged or removed or will compensate owners for the cost of the fence.”

Asked why Xcel will compensate homeowners for damage to fences but not for removal of trees or moving of sheds, Flenniken said fences are permitted in the easement as long as they don’t interfere with Xcel’s maintenance.

“The company has the right to remove trees, and that right was acquired as part of the original easement. Buildings are generally prohibited within the easement,” Flenniken added.

The plan — called the Greenwood to Denver Terminal Transmission Project — will upgrade roughly 15 miles of power lines in a path that crosses through Centennial, Greenwood Village, Littleton, Englewood, Sheridan and Denver. Xcel expects to begin construction this summer.

For more information and to see a map of the project route, see Xcel's website here.

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