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FACILITY: County bought a good building

| April 14, 2024 1:00 AM

Kootenai Electric Cooperative (KEC) moved into its Hayden headquarters on Dakota Avenue in 1979 and operated from it for 44 years. By 2020, it outgrew that facility and began designing and constructing a new one in Rathdrum. Kootenai County purchased the Hayden headquarters in 2020 and leased it to KEC for three years as the Rathdrum facility was completed.

Recently, some have alleged that the Hayden headquarters acquired by the county contained asbestos, PCBs, and below-ground fuel storage tanks. They further allege the building was in poor repair and had uncorrected electrical hazards. Finally, they claim the county failed to perform any due diligence to ensure these risks were not present and blindly accepted a one-sided purchase contract heavily tilted in KEC’s favor. 

As KEC’s General Manager, I find these allegations wholly inaccurate, insulting and harmful to our good reputation in the community we serve.

Consider this: KEC renovated its Hayden headquarters numerous times over those 44 years. Never once did its professional contractors find asbestos in the building even though the age of the building dictated they look for it. When handling equipment KEC suspected could contain PCBs, it did so in strict conformance with EPA regulations and only in areas designated for that purpose. 

Unsurprising to KEC, the county’s subsequent testing for PCBs found none. Finally, electrical safety is job No. 1 for a utility. Alleging KEC was indifferent to such hazards is outrageous. 

I found the county to be fair but firm negotiators who thoughtfully purchased a facility it needed.

Respectfully, we expect our good name and reputation to be spared the political mudslinging behind these allegations. 

DOUG ELLIOTT

General Manager & CEO

Kootenai Electric Cooperative

Rathdrum