Dispute leaves Elmore man without power

6:40 AM, Oct 19, 2013   |    comments
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ELMORE, Minn. - A Faribault County man has been left in the dark after a dispute with Alliant Energy.

Jeff Balcom reached out to Alliant Energy officials when he realized that a power pole on his property was leaning.

Alliant Energy told him they would be happy to fix the pole, at a cost of $747.

"You're the power company, why should I have to provide infrastructure for you?," Balcom questioned.

Since $747 dollars is a lot of money for him, the former state high school wrestling champion and one time Minnesota Golden Gopher turned a bit stubborn.

Balcom straightened the pole with his tractor, strapped it to the axle and called it good, but Alliant quickly responded with a letter saying that the pole would need to be replaced because the it was considered a hazard.

Last month, the utility turned the power to Balcom's home off.

Balcom continues to dig in his heels, making do without power.

"I don't have to worry about the canned goods freezing," he joked as he opened his refrigerator, now just being used for storage.

He can still cook and heat with gas, but he said he misses his microwave.

"If anybody has a propane microwave they want to get rid of let me know," Balcom said.

In hopes of getting community support, Balcom has recorded a YouTube video and has 1,500 friends on a Facebook page documenting his plight.

As luck would have it, Jeff's electrical service is scheduled to be shifted to a new power cooperative -- BENCO -- based in Mankato.

A BENCO spokesman says the coop does replace damaged meter poles free of charge, but it could take up to one year before Benco officially takes over service.

"I've survived and I can survive again," Balcom proclaimed.

In a phone call with KARE 11, an Alliant spokesman defended the utility's policy, saying it helps keep rates lower for all its customers.

(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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