Pueblo needs local, nonprofit electric utility

Ballot issue 2A is for leaving a Black Hills Energy monopoly and forming an independent nonprofit electric utility administered by the Pueblo water board. The opponents of 2A would like the public to be confused and scared of change and to stay with the monopoly franchise agreement with Black Hills. Voters should not be confused by Black Hills publicity and here’s why.

Let’s see ― what has that monopoly franchise agreement status quo gotten us? The highest rates and bills among all cities along the Front Range. No local control over policies such as shutoffs and reconnect charges. Business-crushing electric costs for Pueblo’s economy. Fewer jobs and stagnant economy in Pueblo while profits go to Black Hills stakeholders. We are the golden goose for Black Hills with a franchise leash around our neck.

The water board has the experience in running a utility and has an elected board which would increase local control for Pueblo. Pueblo would buy our power through contracts on the open market, getting reliable, steady service at competitive prices. Pueblo deserves local control, competitive pricing, stable electric costs, a good economic climate for local jobs to keep the money in our community that currently goes to Black Hills stockholders.

Vote “yes” on 2A for locally controlled public power with good jobs and energy progress.

Dr. Velma Campbell, Pueblo

’No’ on 2A

I’ve been looking at the arguments on both sides of the issue 2A off-ramp question. I’ve had the opportunity to hear some information in more detail than some folks have been able to access.

I’m voting “no.”

Pueblo’s contract with Black Hills Energy is for 20 years, with the option to cancel at that time. We’re halfway through. We’ve put up with the rapaciousness of Black Hills this long. We can live with the situation for 10 more years, then cancel the contract legally and find a power supplier we like better. Or, we can cancel now and spend the next 10 years in a very expensive fight with a hostile Black Hills with little chance we’ll achieve rate relief anywhere along that timeline.

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of a city-owned utility is that the administration of such will be populated by the same good ol’ boy players who have been so successful so far at obstructing real economic development.

The off ramp is a bad deal. Don’t be fooled into participating in their expensive tantrum.

Dennis Chappell, Pueblo

Our electric economy

There are many excellent reasons for Pueblo to develop its own local, contracted electric service facilities by voting “yes” on 2A.

This letter appeals to Pueblo’s electric ratepayers to not miss the opportunity for Pueblo’s economy to thrive via less expensive electricity, lower cost for business attraction and more discretionary income for low-income families. The utility people against public power say ratepayers would be buying infrastructure twice. In fact, we’re still paying the high interest rate on loans to buy it the first time, so why not own it ourselves the first time? Opportunity versus risk ― your choice.

Remember: savings of about $25 million yearly. A fraction of which could pay off revenue bonds for the water board purchase of condemned assets. A local nonprofit electric enterprise governed and administered by the Pueblo Board of Water Works would contract with contemporary, reliable contractors managed by operational sub-boards.

Bear in mind that with your “yes” vote on 2A, Pueblo exits the franchise agreement according to Colorado law and Black Hills Energy keeps supplying electricity as long as it takes for the enterprise to develop. If a breakaway becomes financially untenable, Pueblo may re-enter a new franchise agreement with BHE or another entity, even one that may show up to solve the issue in ways yet unimagined. It’s really a low-risk vote.

Public power is less government than a monopoly regulated by a political governmental entity, the Public Utilities Commission. Please mark “yes” on your 2A ballot and boost Pueblo’s economy.

Tom Corlett, Pueblo