Poles To Go Up This Fall
Xcel Energy has won final approval from the Public Utilities Commission, (PUC), to rebuild one of the three lines that travel diagonally through the eastern part of CPN.
CPN lost the battle to have the power lines re-routed, or buried; however, we were successful with the PUC in retaining important legal rights for property owners of our community.
“Having the lines buried or relocated was only part of our battle,” said Master Association President Linda Nuzum. “We wanted to protect our property owner’s rights if noise pollution from these lines ever becomes an issue in our community.”
Unfortunately, our battle is only half way over. Xcel may upgrade lines in the future, increasing noise pollution. They have proposed a bill in the Colorado State Legislature to allow “industrial level” noise in residential areas with no compensation for property owners and protection from litigation. The poles are going up, but we need your help to keep the “noise” down.
Construction Begins this Fall … What Does This Mean for CPN Residents?
What’s the battle about?
Contact Colorado Senators regarding HB 1348
Construction Begins This Fall
This fall, Xcel will begin rebuilding one of the three foundations of lines that travel diagonally along the eastern corridor in CPN. Installation of the new poles will be complete in the spring of 2005. The new lines will be operational by the summer of 2005.
Xcel has worked with several adjacent property owners regarding pole placement, and in some cases, adjustments to the plan were made.
What Does This Mean for CPN Residents?
Things will look different. The new structures will be brown metal and will be higher than the existing lines.
The good news is that, compared to the existing poles, the new poles actually reduce the magnetic field which some associate with potential health concerns.
Noise emitted from the new lines should remain the same or be less than current lines – – at least for now. However, Xcel may upgrade the line, increasing voltage – and noise pollution – in the future.
Initially, the new line will operate at the same voltage as the existing line – 230 kilovolts. However, the new line will be capable of carrying higher voltage – 345 kilovolts. Xcel will need to get a new permit from the PUC if they wish to boost the voltage.
Our Battle Began Last Year
Xcel proposed construction plans in March, 2003, and many CPN residents hoped the project could be permanently halted with protests and legal intervention. The CPN Master Association began working to persuade Xcel to relocate expansion plans or bury the lines that would directly affect our community. Residents joined together to form committees, and thousands of dollars in contributions were collected to help fund legal expenses.
Douglas County approves the plan
In November, 2003, CPN attended a hearing with the Douglas County Planning Commission. More than 200 homeowners attended the meeting and presented a petition with 1,300 signatures. The County claimed they had no jurisdiction regarding the placement of power lines in an existing corridor, and voted to approve Xcel’s county permit.
Public Utility Commission Rules in CPN’s Favor
Xcel also needed a permit from the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The Master Association engaged an attorney to represent us at the PUC hearing (as required by PUC rules), and some individuals also participated in the PUC hearing.
CPN argued that Xcel should relocate their expansion plans or bury the lines, and also focused on the question of noise pollution: the importance of protecting property owner’s rights, and preserving the opportunity for legal recourse if noise reaches excessive levels.
The PUC decision was finalized in late February. The PUC approved Xcel’s permit to build the new line. However, thanks to efforts by the Master Association and CPN residents, the PUC agreed with our community on several key legal points related to noise and future upgrades to the line:
New hearing will be required before voltage can be increased.
Xcel’s current application is to operate the new lines at the current voltage – 230 kilovolts. The original plan was to increase the voltage when Xcel deemed it necessary in the future, without notifying any nearby property owners.
Because of CPN’s objections, the PUC will require Xcel to fill out applications for public notification and hearings if the company plans to increase voltage. The voltage cannot increase without PUC approval.
PUC did NOT grant Xcel’s request to allow unlimited noise levels.
Xcel’s PUC application presented data showing that the noise from the new 230kV line would be in the same range (or slightly less) than the existing line. The company asked the PUC for protection from future litigation related to noise-pollution complaints, even if the noise levels actually exceed projections.
The PUC agreed with CPN’s arguments that the company should not be protected from litigation if noise levels exceed the projections presented to the PUC.
Nuzum said the ruling from the PUC helps to protect our community for the long term. “This was an important victory for us. There was a great need to protect our community from future noise pollution,” said Nuzum. “While Xcel said the voltage on the lines would stay the same, there was nothing to protect us from future increases that would bring more noise to our community. We hope the PUC ruling will help deter additional noise from these lines.”
The NOISE Battle Continues
Xcel then moved to the Colorado Legislature, and Rep. Shawn Mitchell proposed House Bill 1348 to allow higher “industrial level” noise levels on all power line corridors throughout Colorado. Even on corridors in residential areas – just like ours. This bill would provide no compensation to adjacent homeowners impacted by additional noise pollution and protect Xcel from any future litigation.
We Need Your Help!
The bill has already passed the House and moves on to the Senate Committee this week.
Click HERE and contact our State Senators today, opposing House Bill 1348. Help us protect our community from excessive noise pollution from power lines.
A Special Thank You
From the moment the news about Xcel’s proposal was announced, members of the CPN community and Master Association Board of Directors began working together to form a committee to support our case. Dozens of CPN residents pulled together to donate their time and energy to fight this battle. Without their help, the Master Association would not have been able to pursue this issue. Thanks to everyone who worked to support our community !
The following residents have been instrumental in leading our efforts against Xcel, through the County and PUC hearings, and now at the legislature:
Master Association Board Members –
Linda Nuzum, Bruce Thompson
Village Homes Neighborhoods (CPN-II) –
Carol Padilla, Keri Brehm
Hidden Pointe –
Kari and Jeff Porter
Oak Hills –
Kim and Kurt Steenhoek
In addition, numerous individuals made donations to the legal defense fund, and large donations came from neighborhoods most affected by the project, including Village Homes (on behalf of the CPN-II neighborhoods), Hidden Pointe HOA, and Oak Hills HOA.