EDITORIAL: Put Black Hills on notice
Author: The Pueblo Chieftain Editorial Board - September 13, 2017 - Updated: September 13, 2017
Pueblo City Council members were right to signal an intention to put Black Hills Energy on notice that its electric utility franchise here is in jeopardy. The council is scheduled to vote officially on Sept. 25 to do just that — to take an “off ramp” and potentially get out of the city’s 20-year franchise agreement with Black Hills in 2020, which would be 10 years early.
We encourage the council to vote that way, not because changing utility franchises is easy (it’s not), but because there seems to be no other way to get Black Hills’ attention. If the South Dakota-based utility really cared about its public standing in Pueblo, it would not have filed for one rate hike after another — some approved and some still pending before the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.
Pueblo customers, residential and business alike, have been pushed almost to the breaking point by rising Black Hill rates. To add salt to the wound, Black Hills has asked PUC approval to raise the low-income assistance fee to all customers from 28 cents to 31 cents per month.