Page 1

Power Lines Official Publication of Powder River Energy Corporation

Visit us at:


September, 2003

CEO Straight Talk By Mike Easley

The electrical blackout that occurred on August 14, 2003 in the northeastern United States will hopefully be a wake-up call for the electric industry, its regulators, and yes, even the public! I think it is important that we all realize that the Blackout of 2003 was only a symptom of a much larger problem with our Nation’s energy infrastructure. In May of 2001 the White House produced a document called the “National Energy Policy” ( This document received wide criticism along partisan lines, environmentalists, and some industry watchdogs. There was sharp criticism of involving industry in the formation of this policy. Regardless of the position one may take on this document I believe it is important to note that within Chapter 7’s discussion on America’s Energy Infrastructure, there are some almost prophetic statements: “One of the greatest energy challenges facing America is the need to use 21st century technology to improve Americas aging energy infrastructure,” “Our energy infrastructure has failed to keep pace with the changing requirements of our energy system,” “The electricity transmission system is constrained by insufficient capacity,” “If transmission constraints are not removed, the result can be higher prices and lower reliability,” and “Another cause of transmission constraints is the siting process”. These problems did not happen over night, nor will their solutions; however, a knee jerk reaction could set the stage for even more problems as time goes on. The U.S. Senate and House will be coming together soon to put together a national energy bill that is certain to have legislation aimed at solving some of these problems. One popular concept is to provide incentives for companies to build transmission. While this sounds promising, incentives of this type are usually financial, and unfortunately, these are usually born on the backs of customers. It’s too bad that the electric cooperative model can not be used to help solve the nation’s energy infrastructure problems. The neighbor helping neighbor philosophy could really go a long way in helping to resolve energy issues facing all of us. There are some challenges that we face here at home in northeastern Wyoming that are not too different from those on the national perspective. Our system has areas where its rather old, we have places where we need to add new technology to make things work better, and we have siting (right of way acquisition) issues for both of our distribution and transmission systems. The neighbor helping neighbor attitude is different than it used to be back when power was first coming to rural areas. It is still there, but sometimes it’s a bit harder to see. We have many new customers now and some think different than Continued on back page>>>

Reminder: Annual Membership Meeting Saturday, Sept. 20 10:30 am. Cam-Plex Energy Hall, Gillette, WY

We Get Our Power From You. Your electric cooperative is a special organization. Instead of out-of-town stockholders, we are owned by the people we serve. Instead of sending money out of town, we return profits to the community. Most importantly, our customers are our source of power and direction. You see, we’re not just your electric service company. We are your friends and neighbors. From the line workers to the board of directors. That’s why all of us here at your electric co-op work so hard to deliver the best and most affordable electric service possible. We know that we can’t deliver electricity without getting the power from you.

>>> CEO Straight Talk—continued

what we are used to. They have unique needs and special challenges. They bring growth, which is really good for an electrical system, but with the growth is the challenge to serve it. The up side of the growth is we have the revenues to replace some of the older parts of our system. And we have the ability to keep up our maintenance programs and to continue to keep the electric system operating reliably. There is a lot of work that goes into operating and maintaining the 9000 miles of electric lines in Powder River Energy’s service territory! I think it is really important to learn something new every day and learning from others is often times the most painless way to learn. What have we learned from the Blackout of 2003? Well, we know that America’s energy infrastructure needs help and we know we are all in it together. We know that our electrical system loads will continue to grow and that transmission and generation resources are needed to support the demands of the end use customer. What we don’t know is exactly how we will get there, but I am certain the neighbor helping neighbor way of thinking would go a long way to solving our energy supply issues. Look what it has done for your electric cooperative so far.

Don’t Shoot! Many utilities, including electric cooperatives, have a number of outages each year which are caused by people shooting at power equipment like line insulators, utility poles, transmission towers and transformers. In many, if not all, areas, shooting at power facilities is vandalism—a crime punishable by fines and/or jail sentences. Shooting at power equipment is also very dangerous. Not only can someone be injured by the gunshot, but the resulting power outages present risks to electric co-op personnel who must repair the damage and to the customers who may depend on the power for life support equipment. So please, don’t shoot at the power equipment. It’s illegal, it’s senseless and it’s risky. And if you see someone else doing it, report it to us or local law enforcement officials immediately.

Heating System Health Checkup As fall arrives, it’s time to have your heating system checked and serviced by a qualified professional. No matter what kind of system you have, a heating system check-up will ensure that it’s operating efficiently and safely before the first cold days arrive. That heating safety check should also include any portable heaters that you may be using. Make sure the cord to a portable electric heater is in good condition and that the switches and controls are all working properly. If you use a fireplace or wood stove during the winter, have the chimney cleaned and the flues checked out. Taking these simple steps now can help you stay comfortable—and safe—this winter. Source: National Electrical Safety Foundation

Electrical Safety Most of us don't think much about electricity unless we are forced to go without it. But just like light bulbs and appliances, the electrical system in your home deserves your attention. The National Electrical Safety Foundation urges consumers to take an electrical tour throughout their homes to look for potential hazards. Many potential hazards are easily identified and corrected. • You can check to see that lamps and extension cords aren't cracked, frayed or covered by rugs or furniture. • Check light bulbs to determine that the wattage is appropriate for lighting fixtures. • Electrical appliances should be kept away from damp and hot surfaces and have appropriate air circulation. Dim or flickering lights, arcs or sparks, sizzling or buzzing sounds from your electrical systems, odors, hot switch plates, loose plugs and damaged insulation, among other things, are signs of potential hazards and should be looked at by a qualified electrician. Power Lines A publication of Powder River Energy Corp. P. O. Box 930 Sundance, WY 82729 As an official publication of Powder River Energy Corporation, the purpose of Power Lines is to communicate to member/ customers information concerning their electric cooperative, and to offer suggestions and ideas regarding the safe, efficient, and economical use of electric energy. Back issues of the Power Lines can be found on Powder River Energy’s website at: Power Lines Editor: Mike Blenkush


Reminder: Annual Membership Meeting Saturday, Sept. 20 10:30 am. Cam-Plex Energy Hall, Gillette, WY SCHOOL IS OPEN DRIVE SAFELY! September,...