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Xcel Energy tree-trimming program helps ensure electric service reliability

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Xcel Energy tree-trimming program helps ensure electric service reliability

May 7, 2001

MINNEAPOLIS - As spring showers give way to summer storms, Xcel Energy tree-trimming crews continue on their schedule to help ensure the safe and reliable flow of electricity to customers in the company's Upper Midwest service area.

Xcel Energy spends more than $20 million on its year-round tree-trimming program in the upper Midwest, trimming trees along more than 8,500 miles of power lines to ensure continuous and safe electric service.

Downed trees and branches are a major cause of power outages during summer storms and high winds, and Xcel Energy's crews clear branches and limbs away from power lines in four- to six-year cycles. The crews prune trees according to each species' rate of growth, branch strength, proximity to power lines and type of line.

"Trimming trees is one of the most direct and cost-effective ways to keep electricity flowing to our customers, and we're committed to doing it in a way that protects the health of trees as well," said Brad Williams of Xcel Energy's Vegetation Management staff. "Our goal is to keep the lights on while taking the best possible care of this most precious natural resources."

Xcel Energy achieves this goal by using crews trained in the techniques of proper tree trimming, and the company's tree-trimming efforts have received recognition from the National Arbor Day Foundation, which in 2001 named Xcel Energy a "Tree Line USA Utility" for the fifth consecutive year. To qualify for the "Tree Line USA" award, Xcel Energy has offered a program of quality tree care, annual worker training in quality tree care practices and a tree-planting and public-education program.

Xcel Energy's tree-planting and public-education efforts also have received recognition from the National Arbor Day Foundation. The company-sponsored Corridor Habitat Initiative in Bloomington, Minn., recently received the Foundation's 2001 Project Award. The three-year project, undertaken by the City of Bloomington and Tree Trust, transformed a power line corridor into parkland, trailways and wildlife habitats through the planting of low-growth trees and vegetation.

Xcel Energy will respond to emergency requests for trimming limbs or trees that are interfering with service or may pose a safety hazard. The company does not trim trees along lines running from poles to houses or other buildings, except in service- or safety-threatening situations, but the company will de-energize lines if customers wish to hire a professional tree-trimming contractor. Call Xcel Energy's 24-hour customer service number at 1-800-895-4999 to schedule a de-energizing appointment before contacting a contractor.

Xcel Energy recommends that customers not attempt to trim trees near power lines and reminds customers that contact with overhead lines or downed lines poses safety hazards that can result in serious injury or even death. Adults should remind children to stay away from fallen power lines and any object a downed line may come in contact with, especially trees whose limbs might come into contact with lines. A tree limb touching a power line will become energized, and touching the energized limb would be just as dangerous as touching a live line.

Also remember, anyone planning to plant any tree or shrub in Minnesota must call Gopher State One Call at least 48 hours before digging at 651-454-0002 or 1-800-252-1166 or, in Wisconsin, Digger's Hotline at least three working days before digging at 1-800-242-8511 to ensure proper location of all underground utilities. Location services are free.

Xcel Energy also distributes a free brochure about the types of trees and shrubs that are suitable for planting near power lines and poles. Call 1-800-895-4999 and ask for "The Right Tree" brochure.

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