The Dog Days of Xcel Energy
It’s Called Progress, People!
“None of the work being done in Leadville and Lake County will cost the homeowners anything.”
This quote from an Xcel Energy official during the Open House Virtual Public Meeting in 2020 regarding the Leadville Natural Gas Project (LNGP) could be the silver lining residents and second homeowners are looking for when it comes to a response-able narrative from the public utility company. Of course, you’ll have to do some digging to uncover these facts. Fortunately, there is a special locater for that in Leadville Today.
As subcontractor Site Wise work crews roll out the cone zones for the third year of the “we’re-building-the-plane-as-we’re-flying-it” project, questions are growing regarding the plan to “replace, relocate, and install natural gas distribution mains; relocate natural gas meters; and install direct tie-ins to service lines.” The good news is that yes, it’s true that none of the costs associated with these upgrades should fall to the consumer. In fact, part of the rate increase Xcel customers saw on April 1 will be applied towards what is known as the “Pipeline System Integrity Adjustment” or PSIA. This fee – which everyone pays – funds the costs of upgrading their natural gas system. This time, Leadville is benefiting.
It’s a sizeable, 5-year project which will impact 2,103 homes when completed in 2024. And it needs to be done – badly. Most gas meters will be replaced, along with the service lines which run off the main into homes. The LNGP officially kicked off on April 24, 2019. There were door hangers and notifications both online and in print, an official email and a dedicated phone number were established. Little doubt, the word was out.
Then the work got started. To say that Phase One which was conducted in the West Park sub-division did not go well would be an understatement. Between a labor shortage, many painful lessons about digging at 10,200 feet, confusing messages between county and city officials concerning permits, and a basic lack of oversight of contractors and sub-contractors, by the time they closed up the ground in November 2019, the LNGP was DOA.
In fact, at the January 30, 2020 “Plan Overview” meeting, which Leadville Today attended and has #ontherecord, the report from Xcel Energy, county and city officials of what went wrong during Phase One monopolized 45 minutes of the session. With a newly hired PR agent on board to mitigate the Summer of 2019 mess, updated hand-outs were distributed, including a fresh round of color-coded phases, and a “plan and strategy that has been adjusted based off of the 2019 work.” Onward!
Then came COVID-19. And while the pandemic had an impact on many Lake County projects, for this one, it brought the conversation a bit more into the public arena. A virtual meeting replaced what had been in place: another unaccountable, sticky-note assembly. Instead, a virtual Open House was held on April 16, 2020, allowing greater access to ALL. And Xcel customers leaned in with some solid questions, forcing some #ontherecord responses from Xcel officials which will hold them accountable along the way. The results are the following English and Spanish video versions of that April 16, 2020 Open House meeting. It’s worth noting that you will NOT find these videos on the dedicated Xcel web page, and you will NOT find them on the utility company’s official YouTube channel, but you will find them on Leadville Today.
Viewers can jump into the (English) video at 20:00 after the formal presentation when a utility official addresses the Mountain View Drive situation which many residents do not feel was restored to its former million-dollar condition. He is also on-the-record concerning many of the costs that Xcel promised would NOT be passed along to homeowners, from lawns to landscape.
If residents have concerns, LT always encourages consumers to use the established channels of communication, which are listed below. However, if that doesn’t work, contact your #leadvillenews leader at firstname.lastname@example.org. But above all it’s SAFETY FIRST, folks, after all, it’s natural gas! Also, please be kind to the work crews, especially the flaggers. They are just doing a job, and one that’s hard to fill these days, so give ‘em a brake!
Xcel Energy Leadville Open House – English
This Week in The Cone Zone
Residents and visitors are beginning to see the Xcel Energy work crews on the southern off-shoot streets of Harrison Avenue. Starting this week May 17, work crews will continue wrapping up the work on East 2nd and 3rd Streets, then jump across to Elm Street, running a new main line from Leiter all the way down to McWethy. This is one of the oldest areas in town and has historically had some of the biggest gas leak issues with some old lines running in off the alley. BTW, if Xcel crews think they uncovered some interesting things during the first phase of the project which focused on the 1960s West Park suburb, wait until they start digging up the first few hundred blocks of Leadville’s eastside historic mining district! Seriously, if you own property in this summer’s work zone, pay attention, and take note of the contact list at the end of this post.
After the Elm Street work is complete, the crews will pick up again on Leadville’s east side on 4th Street, marching its way North. Heres’ the link with the most up-to-date information. They have been pretty good at updating their online info and communicating directly with folks in the neighbors impacted with notification letters.
Xcel Energy Leadville Open House – Spanish
Ye Official Word from Xcel Energy
The following information was distributed by Xcel Energy officials:
This project is being completed as part of our commitment to system revitalization and will allow us to continue to provide safe, reliable natural gas service to our customers. The contractor for the project is SiteWise. Additional contractors may also work on the project. We will install the natural gas lines primarily by boring construction methods as well as open trenching construction when needed. Boring involves clearing an underground pathway between two endpoints through which a natural gas line is pulled or drilled. Open trenching involves diffing a trench and placing the natural gas line in the trench.
- Work may also occur in yards or in other areas of customer properties if the natural gas lines need to be replaced. We will notify affected customers directly, and we will restore properties to preconstruction conditions.
- If your natural gas meter is located on the north side of your home or business, we may relocate it to the east, south or west side of your location.
- This project will be constructed each year during the summer construction season through 2024.
- This year’s construction will start in spring and will be completed this fall.
- Crews will work during daytime hours on both weekdays and weekends and beyond daytime hours under special circumstances. Please note that construction schedules are subject to change.
Who’s Got The Power Around Here?
- Xcel Energy
- City of Leadville