In 2018, Black Hills Energy sold some of its 700 oil and gas wells in New Mexico and the Powder River Basin in Wyoming to help finance a $70 million monolith headquarters in Rapid City. It was built there on the backs of subscribers without choices because out of state Republicans who write the tax law own South Dakota and because the state ended environmental oversight. BHE raised much of its construction cash on Colorado cannabis.
The Trump Organization wants three thousand new oil and gas wells in the area surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park in the Four Corners Region because regulators and market forces are driving utilities from coal-fired electricity generation. And today a majority of Pueblo, Colorado residents wants the city to end its agreement with BHE and create a municipal electric utility
Frances Koncilja was a member of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission for four years.
First, save millions of dollars in interest payments. Black Hills charges you $18.5 million of interest every year on $350 million of debt at 5.29 percent. Interest rates have been at historical lows for almost 10 years, but Pueblo does not benefit. Black Hills assigns to Pueblo the higher, in some cases, the highest interest rate. Other Black Hills entities get the benefit of lower rates. Second, eliminate almost $1 million of holding company costs that Black Hills collects from Pueblo every year. Third, eliminate the costs of natural gas purchases. Black Hills has passed onto ratepayers its hedging losses on gas purchases of $31,547,135.
Black Hill’s business model is predatory: Buy utilities in small communities, usually poorer with less money to spend fighting at the PUC; acquire more customers; pay 30 percent premium to book value for these utilities; cut back on maintenance and then ask the PUC to order huge rate increases to pay for the deferred maintenance. The residents of Pueblo have been at the mercy of Black Hills and these draconian policies and prices for more than 12 years. A prudently run electric utility is your only hope to reduce rates and you will not get it from Black Hills. [Koncilja: End Black Hills’ predatory business practices]
Utilities are not your friends.
The cost of subsidizing, manufacturing, transporting, erecting and maintaining just one wind farm turbine bat and bird killer would take a thousand subscribers to energy self-reliance. Microgrid technologies are destined to enhance tribal sovereignty, free communities from electric monopolies and net-metering only gives control back to utilities enabled by moral hazard. Ice storms routinely knock out electric power on American Indian reservations often resulting in lost lives and the inevitable cyber attacks on the US will take down the grid for days, even months causing food shortages and mayhem.
The average cost of a household photovoltaic system is about $3/watt or around $12,810 before tax credits are factored in. Leaving the grid has never been easier so anyone who can afford to it should do it now and with Trump still in the White House it's never been more urgent