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Archive for Saturday, August 30, 2008

State utilities, FEMA at disagreement

August 30, 2008

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— A group of electric utilities in Kansas has so far been unable to resolve differences with the Federal Emergency Management Agency over how to proceed with repairs to facilities damaged in December's ice storm.

The 26 Kansas utilities involved provide electric service to more than 300,000 residents. Several meetings between the municipal and cooperative electric utilities and FEMA have been aimed at resolving how to pay for replacing or repairing the damaged facilities.

The utilities contend they have line sections that need to be replaced, but FEMA disputes the extent of the damage, Stuart Lowry of Kansas Electric Cooperatives Inc. said in a statement Friday.

Lowry said FEMA has proposed additional inspections to identify the damage more thoroughly.

"Our primary concern is to get these damaged systems back and operating at pre-disaster conditions very soon," said Colin Hansen of Kansas Municipal Utilities. "Unfortunately, the process outlined by FEMA does not get us to that point."

But FEMA said the utilities have not provided the agency with evidence that the facilities need replacing.

"It's the responsibility of the applicant to show us the damage," said Anita Westervelt, FEMA external affairs officer. "We restore to predisaster design and conditions. We do not rebuild unless something is totally destroyed."

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