IE Investigations

More Recent Investigations

Why Smart Meters Don’t Make a Smart Grid

Power transmission lines march across the Shirley Basin in central Wyoming.

In 2009, Obama promised to modernize the electric grid, using stimulus money. The new power grid would be smart and efficient, bringing the tech revolution to electricity. It would incorporate more renewable energy. It would have the ability to fix blackouts more quickly. And, it would save customers a whole lot of money. So whatever happened to that plan? (Blackout: Reinventing the Grid #3) Continue Reading →

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When The Largest Machine In The World Fails

The huge, steel transmission towers carrying power to the North Country  collapsed under the weight of the ice during the Ice Storm of 1998.

If you could peer behind an electrical plug in your house, you’d find a massive network of transmission lines and power plants and a whole army of people bringing power to the socket in real-time, 24 hours a day. It’s the largest machine in the world: the power grid. Most of the time it operates invisibly, in the background, but when it fails, it often does so memorably. To most people, those outages seem like isolated events, but when you look at the trend, they're not. (Blackout: Reinventing the Grid #1) Continue Reading →

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Slaying The Debt Monster: Finances Of 10 Oil And Gas Companies In Colorado

Understanding how debt plays into the web of a company's finances was a beast - nay, a monster. We faced the Debt Monster with only 10-Ks to protect us.

We wanted to find out if the increasing debt load of many oil companies is making them more vulnerable to sliding oil prices. Understanding how debt plays into the web of a company's finances was a beast - nay, a monster - we faced with only financial documents to protect us. Continue Reading →

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The Boom: Short-Term Gain, Long-Term Pain

Jim Willox, chair of the Converse County Commission, doesn't like the word "boom" to describe the energy development happening in eastern Wyoming. Here, he shows off a map of oil rigs operating in Converse County.

The United States has been experiencing an oil and gas boom for the last five years. It has helped the country’s economic recovery and created thousands of jobs for people in states like North Dakota, Wyoming and Texas. But although booms are often heralded for the economic opportunities they provide, they also have a darker side. Continue Reading →

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How A Service Station In A Wyoming Boomtown Learned To Live With(out) The Energy Industry

Verne and Emma Waldner are the longtime owners of Wamsutter’s Conoco Service Station.

Verne Waldner bought the Conoco Service Station in Wamsutter Wyoming back in 1973. There wasn’t much to the town then, and there still isn’t. Wamsutter sits off Interstate 80 and has a current population of just under 500. But Verne says that isolation has made his station an essential outpost for drivers passing through for decades. Continue Reading →

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