Repair costs for Aspen gas line sabotage reach $1.4 million

ASPEN, Colo. — Black Hills Energy says it has spent about $1.4 million to repair sabotaged natural gas lines that cut heat to Aspen-area homes and businesses in late December. Police say they’re still investigating the incident, which cut service to roughly 3,500 residences for three days during the resort town’s peak winter season.

Black Hills spokeswoman Carly West told The Aspen Times most of the repair costs for the Dec. 26 incident involved labor for repairs and help from other utilities. The sabotage occurred at three Aspen-area locations, one within the city and two in unincorporated Pitkin County.

Aspen police Sgt. Rick Magnuson says the person or persons responsible had to have knowledge of the gas pipeline system to do what they did. Magnuson says detectives have interviewed current and former Black Hills employees as part of their investigation but have not identified any suspects. The FBI is involved in the probe.

Police say one vandalized site was inside a locked building that had been burglarized. Locks and chains securing gas valves were cut and the valves were turned to depressurize gas lines at that location and two others.

Magnuson says the words, “Earth First!” were written on pipes at vandalized sites but that the radical environmental group hasn’t claimed responsibility and a motive for the sabotage remains unknown.

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