Customer, Utility Dispute Who Pays To Fix Gas Leak

A gas leak inside a Ralston home forced an emergency shutoff over the weekend, but the homeowner was fired up after being told he would have to pay for repairs, not the utility company.

A new meter was installed so Black Hills Energy could make readings from the street, but Robert Iltzsch claims that caused the gas leak inside his house. “From them twisting and turning on this pipe.”

Black Hills responded quickly to shut off the gas, but not take responsibility for repairs. “It’s not their responsibility for pipes inside the house. I'm going to have to pay somebody in town to come in and fix the pipe, tighten it down. It’s not fair.” So the family spent about three days with no hot water and cold food. “Ice cold water."

The family had to eat out for several nights because when you turned on the stove all you heard was the igniter. Without gas coming in they couldn't fire it up to cook.

Black Hills drew the line on repair responsibility. “This from here in is the customer piping,” says Kevin Jarosz of Black Hills Energy. But after a call from Fact Finders, Black Hills Energy sent out a repairman to make sure the home has a solid line inside and out so gas service could be restored.

“We did know it was caused by something we did earlier, which was speculated or whether it was existing, so rather than worry about that we just wanted to make sure it was taken care of,” says Jarosz.

Repairs at no charge to him, Iltzsch was glad it was no pipe dream. “No, they're going to take care of it all.”

Black Hills Energy is halfway through installing about 37,000 mobile meter reading devices. The operations manager says customers shouldn't have any safety concerns, but a crew will respond to calls around the clock.

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