NCAR Transmission Line Rebuild Project on National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) Properties

Helicopters will assist in rebuilding of power line – Summer 2019

Our continued work in the Boulder area is vital to maintaining the transmission system and ensuring continued electric reliability in the area.  We are working to replace some transmission poles in 2019, with work beginning this summer. The work is very challenging requiring crews to work along steep, rocky slopes. Helicopters are needed in areas not accessible to heavy equipment. View project update newsletter (PDF).

View map (PDF).

Construction schedule

Construction will begin in mid-July 2019, with helicopter use starting in mid-August. Helicopters will pick up equipment and materials from staging areas located on lands owned by the National Science Foundation (NSF).  During construction, certain OSMP trails, including the Bear Canyon trail will require closures or limited access.  View details on affected trail closures here (external link).

Project timeline (subject to change)

Start of construction – mid-July
Start of helicopters flying – mid-August
Completion of 2019 construction activities – December
Resumption of construction – Summer 2020
Due to winter weather and other seasonal restrictions, construction activities will stop in mid-December and resume again in 2020. 

Project background

Last year, we began the project to rebuild the power lines that serve the entire region south and west of Boulder, including Eldorado Springs, Devil’s Thumb, the foothills, Nederland, Ward and Jamestown. These power lines have reliably delivered electricity to area homes and businesses for decades, but are now at the end of their life cycle.

The project’s first phase replaced the poles and wires that stretch from Eldorado Springs to a large pole structure at the mouth of Bear Canyon. The work this summer will focus on rebuilding the power lines and structures that stretch from the NCAR Substation, adjacent to the Devil’s Thumb neighborhood, west to the mouth of Bear Canyon.

Project overview

We will replace 11 existing two-pole transmission structures with two new sets of single pole structures across approximately one mile of an existing 115 kilovolt (kV) transmission line located on land owned by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP). In addition to this work, Xcel Energy will complete the  replacement of five structures located in Bear Canyon on the segment we started last year but were unable to complete due to snow storms and nesting eagle restrictions.

Contact us

If you have a question or comment regarding the NCAR Transmission Line Rebuild project please send an email to or call 303-571-7089.