Monopolized

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We were contacted last week by a reader who had questions about a notice she had received that Black Hills Energy had installed a new ‘smart meter’ on her property, and had to resist the urge to reply “Well, look on the bright side. At least you weren’t victimized by a phone scam!”

Unfortunately, this community’s treatment at the hands of the corporation that now controls both our electric and gas service has gotten so bad that we can either laugh about it, or simply sit down and cry. Or we can get mad and do something about it!

In the past decade, Black Hills Energy has eliminated the district office it used to maintain in Newcastle, and taken away all of the positions associated with it. They closed the power plant in Osage and replaced it with a mega-transmission line that bisects our county on its way to Rapid City. A few months ago they sold the oil and gas production company they operated in Weston County, initially denied that such a sale was taking place, and still haven’t officially announced that it has. At the same time, the company is openly boasting about its ability to bring its “employee team together” in the new $78 million Horizon Point facility in Rapid City while customers in Newcastle are being targeted by phone-scammers who claim to represent the company— and are able to somehow use phone numbers advertised on BHE’s website to prey on unsuspecting and unsupported customers.

According to the preliminary budget approved by the school board earlier this month, our local school district alone will spend close to three-quarters of a million dollars with BHE next year. But our community doesn’t even warrant a payment drop box!?

We believe this corporation is acting monopolistic in its treatment of our community, and encourage customers to contact the Wyoming Public Service Commission (307-777-7427). We are concerned about the lack of security and service being provided to our community by BHE in its rush to consolidate, automate and line the pockets of its shareholders and executives. BHE receives millions of dollars in revenue from Newcastle, and we deserve better. If enough of us contact the PSC, our “local” utility company might find out that the law agrees.

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