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Neighbors upset over Xcel Energy plans to build gas regulator station near school

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HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. -- Homeowners in a Douglas County neighborhood raised concerns Thursday over a proposed Xcel Energy project to build a natural gas regulator station near homes and an elementary school.

With homes popping up all over Highlands Ranch, Xcel officials said they need to add a natural gas regulator station in the Indigo Hills neighborhood. Regulator stations help redirect gas from the main pipelines to serve the new neighborhoods.

Officials estimate that in 15 to 20 years, they'll have to serve natural gas to an additional 35,000 to 45,000 customers.

The plans include tapping into an existing natural gas pipeline that has been underground for years in the open space behind Saddle Ranch Elementary School.

Xcel would build the fenced-in natural gas regulator station behind the school playground and baseball field. The structure would extend 50 feet by 65 feet.

"There's probably much better locations that are farther from the school and away from the children," Todd Roth said.

Roth has lived in the area for more than 20 years. He joined about 60 other concerned neighbors who questioned Xcel at a community meeting Thursday night.

"I'm not confident that there's no risk at all," Roth said.

Xcel officials said they'll use a closed-pipe system, which prevents gas from leaking. They said there won't be any venting. They would also install a monitor to alert them if anything goes wrong.

"We understand the customers concerns that they think this is going to impact their daily life," Xcel Energy area manager Tom Henley said.

But neighbors were still worried about the eyesore and the buzzing noise that would come from the structure.

"As a homeowner, knowing my house values will be impacted, you know, and the noise levels that this will put out, I'm naturally concerned there too," Roth said.

That's why Xcel held the community meeting, to hear neighbor concerns.

It still has to present updated plans to the Highlands Ranch Metro District, the Douglas County Planning Commission and the Douglas County School Board for the project to continue.

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