Once more The Sundance Times shows the importance of having a local source of information. I am referencing the press release by Powder River Energy Corporation warning us of unexpected power outages for the Hulett area, and that we should expect more of them for an undetermined length of time in the future, after the fact of course. This wasn’t news to those of us that had experienced them, not to mention the potentially destructive brown out we experienced. We were informed that on September 25th of a “planned power outage” to improve our service. But then on the 26th we got to enjoy an unplanned service interruption of the worse form, a brown out. Why is a brown out so much worse than a power outage? Because electrical devices like TVs, computers, other expensive and sensitive things we plug in are damaged due to low voltage. Except the damage doesn’t always show up immediately, so your equipment fails after the brown out and PRE-Corp. can and likely will deny any responsibility. Then we had to experience another unexpected power outage in the middle of the next night. That was just the beginning of several more unexpected power outages. Finally, after the fact, we get the excuse offered in their release that it was all due to “old underground cables” not up to handling the new higher voltage they were transmitting.
That is not acceptable. Common sense makes me question the intelligence of increasing the voltage first, knowing that smaller, older, cables would fail. Instead of waiting for the increased voltage to cause the failures at unexpected times, perhaps replacing the older smaller cables first would have worked better? Now we are getting into the cold weather season, are we to have to worry all winter when the next unexpected outage is to occur?
What will happen if the cold weather prevents them from working on underground cables that fail?
Providing electricity to our homes is a vital service, it’s not something we can do without, or buy somewhere else. The management of PRE-Corp., whoever planned this, seems to not of thought about how these disruptions, potential destruction of our property, worry and concern will affect our lives.
Seldom do I believe that Government intervention in private business is a good thing. But when a monopoly like PRE-Corp., providing a service essential to our safety and well being fails to provide the quality of service it is suppose to maybe it is necessary. Who else can intervene in our behalf with Pre-Corp.? It has demonstrated it is not able to do a quality job of providing this service to us by these repeated outages due to its poor planning.
In response to last week’s letter from Jeff Johnson of Pine Haven concerning the Crook County NRD and the proposed Conservation tax, I feel that it is imperative to set the record straight. Although I found Mr. Johnson’s letter to be mildly entertaining it was extremely inaccurate. It is this kind of misinformation that leads our community members to make uninformed decisions and prevent them from having the services that other counties have enjoyed for years.
Let me first shed some light on to the Conservation Tax. The Conservation tax is a mil levy tax. Every property owner in Crook County pays mil levies. To avoid confusion a mil levy does not mean that the tax will amount to a million dollars per year it is actually only a few hundred thousand which when broken out amongst all the landowners is only about 35 dollars per year. This Conservation Tax has been on the ballot in the past, yes, and it has always been listed as such (this is in accordance to state statute W.S. 11-16-134).
Secondly, CCNRD was lumped in with several other agencies of which there were several duplicates. This was followed up by asserting that CCNRD was, in Mr. Johnson’s letter, a federal agency that has overlap with other agencies. FALSE. CCNRD along with all conservation districts are state statute political subdivision. That means that each county is mandated by state statue to have a Conservation District/ Natural Resource District. They are operated by a county board which is voted on by residents in the county. Unlike the federal agencies that were highlighted CCNRD works for the landowners both large and small.
Finally, there are several benefits to supporting this Conservation Tax. These funds are used to provide programs to the residents of Crook County. With full funding they will be able to provide programs that are available in other counties such as private well water testing, living snow fences to protect our roads, education for youth and adults on various subjects; provide opportunities for recycling and hazardous waste disposal, just to name a few. Currently, the CCNRD is operating on a minimal budget, most of which is grant funded, and still providing all of us with the benefit of helping to restore the health of the Belle Fourche River, aiding landowners in working with the Rare Earth Minerals Group, the ONEOK pipeline, help to advise our County Commissioners and local legislators on Natural Resource topics. They help to ensure that these companies will be able to provide our residents with jobs and not leave a lasting mark on our counties natural resources. Support our county, our way of life and preserve the natural resources we have left.