Pueblo group protests Black Hills rates

Pueblo group protests Black Hills rates

PUEBLO, Colo. - People in Pueblo gathered Sunday to protest Black Hills Energy.

They say rates are unaffordable and unrealistic.

The group hung dozens of origami cranes in front of Black Hills Energy's offices on Victoria Ave. Each of the cranes was meant to represent the voiceless.

"These are people, these aren't just statistics, they aren't just somebody on a ledger book," Rev. Gary Weaver said.

The group hung the cranes in hopes to support, "the 7,000 plus people who have had their energy cut off," Weaver said, as well as the Black Hills Energy rates that got them there.

"Crushing rates... that have increased 10 percent over the last five or six years," Weaver said.

The group's main concern, beyond high rates, was how much customers have to pay to get their power turned back on after being disconnected.

Black Hills Energy is making moves to cut the reconnection fee down from $50 to $15. But it's the additional charges to regain service, like paying the outstanding debt they owe as well as and a three-month deposit, that can cost people up to $1,000 to restore their service.

"For the majority of our population, they simply can't afford that," Weaver said.

The Public Utilities Commission said Wednesday the 5 percent rate increase the power company requested, would not be that high for rate payers in the end.

However, protestors say, even 1 percent, is too much for the people of Pueblo.

"One percent might as well be 100 percent," Rev. Marnie Leinberger said.

The cranes stayed in the trees for about an hour before they were ripped down by security guards.

But they stood for a change for those who can't speak for themselves.

"Seven thousand is a lot, 7,000 is a lot," Leinberger said.

The PUC and Black Hills Energy are set to discuss how much rates will increase at a technical conference Wednesday.

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