Burned out | PostIndependent.com

Burned out

Dennis WebbGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson

SILT A Silt-area couple’s problems following a May 18 power surge at their home have only gotten worse, and no one has yet to accept any responsibility for the problem, the two say.Paul and Nanci Limbach have incurred $20,000 in expenses and eventually had to leave their home after a May 18 incident in which a truck clipped a power line on County Road 346 southwest of Silt. The distribution line, which reportedly belongs to Holy Cross Energy, came in contact with a 69,000-volt Xcel transmission line, sending the 69,000 volts into their home.The couple appeared before the Garfield County Energy Advisory Board Thursday night at the urging of Scott Brynildson, the board’s citizen representative for the Mamm Creek/Hunter Mesa area.”These people are out a lot of money, and they’re out of their home, and everyone’s passing the buck,” Brynildson said. “They’re getting run around and put out and it’s not their fault.”The May 18 jolt blew out appliances, burned out light sockets, caused flames to shoot out of satellite receivers, disabled phone service, melted telephones, burned holes in walls, and knocked fence and telephone poles out of the ground.The Limbachs initially tried to remain in the house after Holy Cross spliced a line to provide power. But the splice blew, and they decided to shut off the power and move out of the house, they said. They’re living in another house they own, meaning they’re losing out on the rental income it normally generates.Nanci Limbach also operates a nonprofit wildlife rehabilitation center behind the home. She said the power surges have affected computers and other equipment at her office, and pumps she needs to provide water for animals. The problems also prevented the center from offering summer education programs, which in turn has hurt its ability to raise funds.The sandstone home that suffered the power surge was built in 1913. The Limbachs’ insurance company has said all the wiring in the house needs replacing, at a cost of $150,000.Contractors have been working on the home but stopped the work because the Limbachs couldn’t afford to pay them. The Limbachs have yet to receive any insurance money, have hired an attorney and expect they will be suing the insurer soon.”He promises the checks are in the mail and we never see them,” Nanci Limbach said of their insurance representative.They say they are frustrated by the lack of willingness by anyone to be accountable for the problem. The Limbachs believe the truck, owned by I.E. Miller Services, was over the legal height limit, but the company is pointing out that it wasn’t ticketed by the Colorado State Patrol. A Holy Cross official has said he believes truck height and not the height of its power line was the problem, and the Limbachs say an Xcel representative told them the Holy Cross line was too close to its line.The Limbachs say the I.E. Miller driver had said that he was working for EnCana Oil & Gas USA, Inc., which has not responded to their attorney.”We basically get passed around and it basically comes back to, ‘Oh, you’ve got insurance,'” Nanci Limbach said.EnCana spokesman Doug Hock said Friday that as far as he was aware, the company had heard nothing more about the incident since shortly after it occurred.”We certainly are sorry for the inconvenience that they are going through and we are willing to sit down with them and get the details and get a better understanding of what took place and how this all came about,” he said.Brynildson said it was important for the energy board to hear about people who have become victims of the current natural gas drilling boom and can’t get any help.”This board needs to know about what’s going on out there in the real world,” he said.”… They need help; it’s not working.”Sam Robinson, the Grand Valley Citizens Alliance representative on the energy board, said the board is ignoring its own stated mission if it doesn’t try to play a role in resolving the matter.”I think we need the committee to study this and find out what we should be doing,” he said.The board also includes representatives of the oil and gas industry, local governments and school districts.Contact Dennis Webb: 384-9119dwebb@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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