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401 Meeker St Delta CO 81416 970.874.4421

Free trees are ready for Black Hills energy customers to claim

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Relaxing in the cool shade of a tree on a hot summer day. There's no better place for kids, book-lovers and pets to take a break from the heat of the sun, but that tree can help your air conditioner take a break as well. A strategically-placed tree can save a homeowner up to 20 percent on energy costs.

And while the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, so the saying goes, the second best time is today. Black Hills Energy invites customers to plant a tree now by claiming a free tree through its partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation's Energy-Saving Trees initiative.

Black Hills Energy is distributing approximately 1,000 free trees, one per household. A free tree can be reserved on a first come, first served basis at www.arborday.org/blackhillsenergy. The 3- to 4-foot-tall dormant trees will be delivered directly to customers for spring planting from May through early June.

"Our partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation in the Energy-Saving Trees program offers us the opportunity to promote the cleaner air, energy savings and other valuable benefits you gain by planting the right tree in the right place," said Susan Bailey, Black Hills Energy's vice president of gas operations for Colorado.

Since beginning the program in 2014, 5,686 trees have been planted through the partnership, and the benefits continue to grow as the trees do. In addition to energy savings, trees improve air quality, reduce stormwater runoff, reduce the urban heat island effect, and beautify the area around them.

Black Hills Energy customers can use the handy online tool at www.arborday.org/blackhillsenergy to quickly determine where to plant a tree to gain the most energy-saving benefits. "Strategically planted trees block the hot summer sun and cold winter winds to help cut energy usage without sacrificing comfort," Bailey said.

Black Hills also is delivering a safety message: At least two business days before you plan to dig, whether you are a homeowner planting a tree or a contractor excavating with a backhoe, Call Before You Dig to have underground utility lines marked. It's free, it's safe and it's the law. In Colorado, just make a free call by dialing 811 to reach Colorado 811. You also can schedule online at http://colorado811.org.

Bailey also urges customers to follow the safe digging practices listed at www.blackhillsenergy.com/safety. Those include using white spray-paint to mark the area where you plan to dig before line locators arrive.

"Underground utility lines may be out of sight, but they should never be out of mind," Bailey said. "It only takes a minute to Call Before You Dig, and it can save untold time and trouble. Please follow the rules and dig safely."

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