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Flashing strobe lights atop Xcel transmission lines irk some residents in Castle Pines

Xcel using safety strobes near Centennial Airport
Posted at 12:26 AM, Jun 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-09 02:51:08-04

CASTLE PINES, Colo. -- When David Clothier first saw strobe lights flashing on top of new transmission line towers in Douglas County, he couldn't believe how bright they were.

"They're so bright," he said. "You can probably see them in space."

Clothier said the lights will take some getting used to.

"I know it's about safety -- keeping planes away from the towers, but the lights are pretty bright," he said.

Neighbors say Xcel Energy is installing a new transmission line in the Castle Pines area.

According to Xcel Energy's website, the segment through Castle Pines is part of a "backbone" reinforcing project connecting the Pawnee Substation near Brush to the Daniel's Park Substation near Castle Pines.

Crews are in the process of constructing 20-miles of new mono-pole structures and a 345 kV line between the existing Smoky Hill and Daniels Park Substations.

The new mono-pole structures sit adjacent to an existing transmission line, part of which is under the main flight path to and from Centennial Airport.

"They're roughly the same size as the old ones, but the old ones don't have strobes," Clothier said.

The Castle Pines resident told Denver7 that the strobes flash a bright white light early in the evening and then change to a bright red as it gets darker.

He joked about aliens being able to see them.

"I'm pretty sure this will be the first place aliens come because the lights are so bright," he said.

They may be bright, and they may be generating a few complaints, but nowhere near the number generated back in 2001 when Joe Nacchio, the CEO of Qwest, the local phone company, amped up the wattage on signs atop their headquarters building at 1801 California Street.

The lights were so bright they cast an eerie blue glow over the entire downtown area, especially when fog rolled in.

The complaints were so numerous that QWEST eventually dimmed the lights.

For residents who lived downtown, the bright blue lights were less about safety and more about the phone company CEO's ego.