Power for the Loons: A small electric co-op considers what to do with the Loons at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge

Harney Electric Map Harney Electric Cooperative is the power transmission and distribution provider for approximately 20,000 square miles of southeastern Oregon and northern Nevada, and right in the midst of their service territory map is the Malheur Wildlife Refuge – currently occupied by more loons than pin tails, swans, and geese.

The Co-op has about 4,000 power meters, 350 miles of transmission line, and more than 2,400 miles of distribution line across the six counties shown on the map.  And there are numerous voices asking why the power hasn’t been cut off at the Malheur Refuge…

A major consideration is Safety.  Harney Electric, for all its territorial expanse, isn’t a very large company.  In fact, the members read their own meters. The company audits meter readings once a year, but for all 12 months of the year the meters are read by the customer/members and not by designated meter readers.  The main office is in Hines, OR (population 1,510) with a branch office in Orovada, NV (population 155) and another small satellite office in Fields, OR (population 120).   It isn’t too far off the mark to say that the administration and management of the co-op is a case of everyone knowing everyone else – employees included.  No one is particularly excited about sending in a lineman to shut off the power at the Refuge since the Loons have an unfortunate track record of actually shooting and killing people.  Case in point: the two miscreants who joined the Bundy Militia for a time in Their Great Delusional Standoff in southern Nevada, and then saw fit to assassinate two police officers in Las Vegas. [MSNBC]  There’s frankly little way for the power company to win —

If they send in an unarmed lineman – do the Loons take offense and physically attack the lineman?  If they send in police or national guard with the lineman – does this constitute an “assault” by the authorities, and also place the lineman in peril?  Should the lineman and a police escort approach the “boundary” does this create a justification in the twisted minds of the trespassers for the shooting to start?  No one in charge at the power company is particularly happy about the prospect of seeing a lineman’s body draped in a Tea Party flag.

Gee, offer some naysayers – why can’t the co-op cut the power off well outside the range of the Loons?  That assumes that the co-op has isolation capacity, and the equipment already installed to shut down portions of the distribution line.  Since its founding in 1961, the co-op’s primary concern has been to get power to isolated areas, NOT how to shut off power to isolated portions of its service area.   The co-op has shut off power to the Frenchglen, OR BLM fire station [OregonLive] as of January 7, 2016, another target of the Loons, but not occupied by them.  The integrity of the BLM fire station at Frenchglen is an important component in the safety of Harney Electric Cooperative’s transmission and distribution lines in southeastern Oregon and northern Nevada.

And then there’s the matter of the bill.  The Bundy Loons are using metered power to prepare their grilled cheese sandwiches – the current rate for power at minimum is $28.75 per month for the first 150 kilowatt hours.  No one’s heard how the Bundy’s intend to pay for the power they’re using – any more than anyone’s figured out how they intend to pay for the $1 million in back grazing fees and penalties they already owe.  However, this time the Bundy’s aren’t ripping off the federal government – they’re ripping off the customers of a small electric cooperative.

If the Loons keep up their occupation to March 1, 2016 they should be mindful that Harney Electric’s minimum rate will increase to $31.50 per month with a 9 cent charge for every kilowatt hour after 150.  Security light pricing will be at $9 a month for a 100 watt light on a meter or transformer pole, and the charge for a specially placed pole will be $11.80 per month.  If the Loons are using a 150 watt security light, that will cost them $13.00 per month.

Somewhere in the midst of their Grand Delusion about Sticking It to the Federal Government, the Loon Militia (#YallQaeda) in their Cowliphate, have forgotten that it isn’t the Federal Government keeping the lights on at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, it’s a small electric cooperative, which expects its customers to read their meters and pay promptly.   It appears that the Bundy definition of Liberty incorporates taking what they want, when they want it, without consideration of how this narcissistic selfishness impacts others … like the Harney Electric Cooperative and its customers.

1 Comment

Filed under Politics

One response to “Power for the Loons: A small electric co-op considers what to do with the Loons at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge

  1. Trying to explain this area those who haven’t spent time there, or, a like area in the west is like trying to explain an elephant to a dolphin.