How is Black Hills Energy
going to benefit Pueblo?
It is very interesting that Black Hills Energy criticizes municipalization and places television and radio ads that say vote “no” on ballot issue 2A. Company officials have not told us how they will benefit Pueblo by remaining our utility service provider.
Are they going to change their policies on disconnects and help low-income citizens who cannot afford the rates that are 50 percent higher than Denver? Are they going to reduce residential rates and the demand rates for businesses?
They did say they were going to build 200 megawatts of renewable energy with some battery storage. Did they give any firm details about this project or is it a “blank check”?
Is it going to be the same type of crippling deal as the Pueblo Airport Generation Station? A division of Black Hills sells the electricity to Black Hills Pueblo with a rate hike and then Black Hills Pueblo adds another price bump to it for Pueblo ratepayers to pay the interest on the loan they took in order to build PAGS.
They have not talked at any community town halls or panel debates. Instead, they have sent in substitutes from the community to talk at the League of Women Voters panel discussion and the KOYC radio station discussion.
I would like to hear directly from Black Hills. Where are Vance Crocker, John Vigil and Julie Rodriguez? Why did they back out of speaking commitments to the community? When are they going to have a press conference?
Dianne Danti, Pueblo
a bet worth making
The Consumer Energy Alliance applauds your April 10 editorial, which urged a “no” vote on ending the city’s contract with Black Hills Energy and having the Pueblo Board of Water Works establish a municipal power company at an as-yet-undetermined cost.
Interestingly, supporters of it are promising better service, increased satisfaction and no out-of-the-blue rate hikes ― all important for a city where 30 percent of the people are living in poverty.
But never having owned a grid, how can the City Council ensure there won’t be any rate hikes and how can they guarantee low prices?
Based on the experience of Jefferson County in Washington state, we have doubts. Three years after voting to buy Puget Sound Energy’s grid to form Jefferson Public Utility District, customers ended up paying $30 more per month to cover unforeseen expenses. And they ran into numerous billing problems and have seen drastic cuts to their low-income energy programs.
It likely will cost hundreds of millions of dollars ― presumably from Pueblo taxpayers ― to purchase, operate and maintain a grid of this size. And with the economic uncertainty from COVID-19, an investment this large without a sense of a return isn’t a bet worth making. Especially when it could lead to fewer municipal programs, higher taxes for those who can afford it least and families spending more of their income on energy.
We agree that it’s unwise to “put the city’s future at risk based on some vague hopes that this would all work out well in the end.”
Emily Haggstrom, Denver