January 30, 2013


By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

Sometimes it is pretty easy for us to forget about how really comfortable our lives are when we are safely snuggled into our homes and businesses. All it takes is a simple flip of the finger and we have ready access to all of the electrical power that we could ever ask for to power our lives. Power to light our homes, run our furnaces and air conditioners, provide power to our water wells, heat our water, cook our meals, and keep us connected with what is going on around us either through our phones, radios, televisions or computers.
Likewise, we forget how important it is that we have a steady and reliable natural gas supply to our homes and businesses. We often don’t think about where our natural gas comes from. Like electricity, it just seems to always be there when we need or want it. Turn up the thermostat on the furnace and we’re warm no matter what the conditions are like outside.
We may grouse a little about our electric or natural gas bills when we get them, but by and large, those two services are something that we don’t spend much time thinking about.
Or at least we don’t think about our electricity until there is a power outage that sends everyone dashing off to find a flashlight and then calling their local power provider to find out what is wrong and how long the power is off. Or when the natural gas suddenly isn’t there and you start to wonder what you have available to stay warm. And again, you start calling your local gas supplier and start asking the same questions as to what happened and more importantly, when are you going to be able to go back to your comfortable world.
Several times so far this fall and winter, customers of both Montana Dakota Utilities and McKenzie Electric Cooperative have seen their power go off. Sometimes the outages have been under a couple of hours to accommodate planned maintenance work, while other times the power has been out for slightly longer periods of time because of downed lines or blown transformers. And last Saturday, an accident near Alexander left MDU’s customers in Arnegard and Watford City without natural gas until Sunday.
Fortunately, in each and every situation, our utility companies have performed admirably in getting their customers back on line as quickly as they can and with as little of an inconvenience as possible. And if that means that McKenzie Electric has to bring in extra help from across the state to get the poles and lines back up, they do it. And likewise, it if means that MDU has to do the same thing to restore natural gas or electrical service, they do it as well.
And doing so is a pretty impressive feat to say the least. These linemen and technicians often are out in the worst of North Dakota blizzards or under other adverse conditions doing their jobs in an effort to keep us warm and cozy in our homes.
We often don’t think about the service that these utility companies provide for us on a daily basis. Or at least we don’t think about it until suddenly that service is taken away from us.
So this week, my “tip of the hat” goes out to the employees of Montana Dakota Utilities and McKenzie Electric for keeping our lights and heat on. Even though we seldom, or if ever say thanks for all that you do, your work is greatly appreciated.