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The Drake fire, conservation, student debt, and more

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Editor, 235 S. Nevada Ave., CS, CO 80903 • email: letters@csindy.com

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Time to unplug

With the fire at the Martin Drake Power Plant, Colorado Springs Utilities is faced with an abrupt loss of generating capacity. Now would be an excellent time for all of us ratepayers to evaluate our electrical needs and find ways to use less.

Start by going to csu.org and looking at the Average Comparison Tool. If your usage is on the high side and you need help figuring out how much power devices in your home are using, get a Kill-A-Watt meter. They can be purchased, rented or even borrowed from the library.

Plug the Kill-A-Watt meter into an outlet, then plug your device into the meter to see how many watts it's using. A real eye-opener is to plug in your entertainment system components when they are "off." It's not uncommon to find them drawing 20 watts or more just sitting there. A power strip will enable you to turn them off completely.

Often your refrigerator is the biggest electricity load in the house. Since it runs intermittently, you will need to plug it into the Kill-A-Watt meter for an entire day. If the fridge is old or not Energy Star certified, you will likely be able to save a lot of energy by purchasing a new one.

If you have not yet swapped out your incandescent light bulbs for compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), what are you waiting for? CSU customers can even get instant rebates at local stores — see their website for details. If you don't like CFLs, check out the growing options for LED bulbs. Although still higher priced than their predecessors, they use far less energy and last much longer. And many think they produce a superior light.

Besides the tips on csu.org, also see the Colorado State University Extension website, www.ext.colostate.edu/energy/home.html.

— Tom Cannarella

Manitou Springs

Left holding the bag

Colorado Springs Utilities needs to come clean on the cause of the Drake Power Plant fire. The users of electrical utilities are probably going to be responsible for paying for the damage. The only information that I as a common citizen have been able to find states that the cause of the fire was "free flowing lubricating oil coming in contact with high temperature steam pipes." This sounds very much like an example of faulty maintenance practices on the part of those responsible for maintaining the generating equipment.

If my job was hauling you around town in my automobile, and my failure to check the engine oil caused the engine to seize up, could I then justifiably charge you for the cost of the engine repair? I would have failed to properly maintain the vehicle, and the liability would be mine alone.

This is going to cost all of us in the Pikes Peak area quite a lot of money, and the price of the repairs should be on the shoulders of those responsible for failing to prevent the fire. But then, they probably don't have the money, do they? So guess who gets stuck with the cost!

— Jim McClellan

Colorado Springs

Koch'd up

Not really understanding all the ramifications of closing or pouring millions more dollars into the Martin Drake Power facility, my husband and I were enthusiastic attendees at the May 8 "Energy Future of Colorado Springs" presentation at Penrose House.

What made the event even more poignant was the fire at the facility May 5.

Jane Ard-Smith (representing the Sierra Club), was excellent, along with Scott Harvey (vice chair of the Utilities Policy Advisory Committee), who had his facts and figures down to a T. The third panel member, Sean Paige, was not only a mouthpiece for the Koch Brothers (Americans for Prosperity) but ill-informed, and he monopolized the panel. He did not have one intelligent statement that addressed the environmental issues of the dirty coal-burning (aging) power plant that just needs to go away. He admitted it was ugly and needed a new paint color!

The final insult to injury was his suggestion that maybe City Council should sell it off to the private sector." What, the Koch Brothers?

When is Colorado Springs going to rid itself of these old right-wingers who refuse to believe it's not the '70s anymore?

We certainly don't need lobbyists for billionaires telling us what to do!

— Elaine Brush

Colorado Springs

Alternate truth

Though an increasingly relevant topic, the May 7 article on student loan debt ("Buried," cover story) was somewhat one-sided. I am a 20-something single mother of a 4-year-old and have worked full-time while going to school in order to earn my debt-free bachelor's degree in finance with an accounting minor this May, even as a first-generation student.

It has been a difficult journey, and I have admittedly and gratefully had hugely valuable support from family. It's important, though, to at least mention that accountability for one's own decisions and working to inform oneself of the liabilities being assumed, and future impacts thereof, should play a role in college selection and duration. Millennials especially are increasingly perceived as entitled and lacking in work ethic, but with hard work and personal accountability this perception needn't be our truth.

— Ale Diaz

Colorado Springs

'Conniving con artists'

Looking for depressing news? Read the city's official list of pothole complaints since January 2013.

Its 1,367 pages of complaints list 7,252 pothole locations in 16 months. Each complaint seems to average 3.3 potholes per location. That's 24,000 potholes (1,500 per month, 50 per day). Those are just the ones the city recorded from ones reported by people who still naively trust City Hall to minimize this chronic problem. City Hall's consistent neglect in my 28 years here is scandalous.

The true number of potholes is certainly greater than the number reported. Their shoddy patch jobs last only months. Yet the city and county scammed voters in 2004 into voting for the RTA, a new layer of government forever. Promising $63 million "more" yearly for roads and $7 million "more" yearly for buses only freed up existing city spending on roads and transit to go for other pet projects. It's called bait-and-switch.

Breaking their "maintenance of effort" campaign promise meant government lied to voters. What a shock! City Hall just raided reserves to offset in part its multimillion-dollar annual theft of its trust funds. It will never fix problems because problems are the excuses for future tax hikes. Can you say "stormwater backlog"? Can you connect the dots to the $50 million Olympic headquarters bonanza? The $500 million Memorial Hospital fiasco? The "City for Champions" boondoggle (true price unknown)?

Wake up, voters. Don't be fooled again! Shun these conniving con artists, past and present, who create and exploit problems rather than solve them. Next April, vote against all City Hall incumbents and all tax increases.

— Douglas Bruce

Colorado Springs

Food stamp abuse

May 16 marks an important milestone: the 74th birthday of the food stamp program. It was on this date in 1939 that it all began in Rochester N.Y. Today, somewhere north of 47 million Americans eat courtesy of other taxpaying Americans. One wonders how folks survived before May 16, 1939! My grandparents did, and I know this because I'm here.

It's all part of the bloated federal agriculture program, of which companies such as Con-Agra are major beneficiaries. Among other things, this agency distorts the free market and keeps prices artificially high, but that's another story. The real question is: Why do we need a Department of Agriculture in the first place?

Like all government programs, once implemented they never die. Worse, they become bigger over time.

Being unenlightened and ill-informed, I ask myself silly questions every time I get behind a person purchasing their food products at a 7-Eleven or some other convenience store. Some of which are: Why don't they clip coupons to save money, like my wife does? How can they afford to buy cigarettes (not covered by the program) when they can't afford their own food? Likewise, how they can afford all those tattoos, piercings and other assorted body mutilations, not to mention iPhones?

Why can't these folks do their grocery shopping at a large supermarket, thereby saving their benefactors (taxpayers) some money? The answer to that is obvious. They don't have to.

But I want to be fair, so I suppose that they don't have an automobile and perhaps a convenience store is their best option. Then they walk out the door, get in a car, and drive off!

I'm not asserting that this situation is universal. However it happens to me often enough to see that abuse and even fraud is prevalent.

— Len Bentley

Colorado Springs

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