WI Electric Co-Op


News and Updates

Cable Failure Update #5


With the exception of some final housekeeping items, the repair portion of this project is now complete.

Our original plan to begin testing the cable at 7:00 PM was delayed as the Barge crew and divers used great care to bed the new repair splices in concrete after the cable was lowered to the bottom and we began our testing/switching procedure at 8:51PM.  Initial testing was complete at 9:14PM with all three phases testing good. We then began loading the cable which culminated in us taking our planned outage at 10:14PM. We had the emergency generator disconnected and all necessary reclosers open by approximately 10:35PM and we began to add load gradually until the entire Island was back on the cable at approximately 11:20PM.

You should be proud of your crew.  Mary, Don and Mike stepped up to the task without complaint and never once failed to be there during the long hours required to get through this. Not only were they dealing with this crisis and the work required to resolve it, they were dealing with the day to day operation of your Cooperative, which included a storm with outages, an outage caused by a lightning struck transformer and using spare moments to finish tasks started before all this began.

You should be proud of your Board of Directors, Orion Mann, Mack Gunnlaugsson, Lee Engstrom, Robert Bjarnarson, Jim Jorgenson, Hoyt Purinton and Joel Gunnlaugsson.  They calmly faced the crisis and did not hesitate to make decisions that moved us forward with the repair. They will face some difficult decisions in the days and months ahead as well as we move forward with a replacement cable.

We would like to thank the crew that came here to help us.  While Durocher and Kerite will certainly be paid for their work, the mobilization and response time to our crisis was extraordinary.  The level of concern and urgency was exactly what we needed to move forward. Each member of the crew, who worked long hours, were professional, friendly and never stopped moving to accomplish the task.  They are new friends of Washington Island and we hope to see them all again under less stressful circumstances. Individual thanks go to:

Durocher Marine Crew: Todd Merchant, Shawn Ross, Keith MacLeod, Chance Bunker, Dan Olmstead, Ethan Jearmay and Project Manager Tim Paquette

Lake Erie Diving: Derek Zilka, Ryan Campbell and Pat Murphy

Kerite: Engineer Bruce Miller and Cable Splicer Robert Rourke

Ashton Marine Crew on the tug Kandice: Captain Phil Andrie, Mate Seth Andrie, Engineer Joe Tubone, Engineer John Faltinek and A/B Dennis Wright

We would like to thank the folks from Fabick Cat who not only repaired our engine, but helped us with the emergency backup that came from Minneapolis.  Russ Spakowitz, Jim Knappen, Jeremy Hrabik and Matt Mayer all played critical roles in this. Also thanks to Andrew Rainsford for picking up parts in Green Bay and delivering them to the Cooperative.

The assistance we received from  all of our vendors and associations was also invaluable in handling this situation and will continue to be valuable as we move forward with a replacement cable.  We would especially like to thank the folks at the Rural Electric Supply Cooperative (RESCO), Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association (WECA) and the National Rural Utility Cooperative Finance Corporation (NRUCFC).

More importantly than all these thanks, this crisis was a true example of community.  The positive comments, thoughts, support and offers to help were more valuable than you will know.  To those of you who brought in food and treats, both for the crew of your Cooperative and the crew on the barge, we would like to give great thanks.  It was sure a nice thing during days where we were too busy for meals to have a quick snack. Thanks to Tully Ellefson, Heidi Gilbertson, Jim Anderson, Ross Meader, Mann’s Mercantile, Lois Jessen and Kate Kaniff.

Special thanks and recognition to Hoyt Purinton for his tireless work in locating the cable, Rich Ellefson for spending nearly two days working with the Fabick folks to help facilitate the repair of our engines, Dick Purinton for the use of the Moby Dick, The Washington Island Ferry Line for the use of the Potato Dock and Fuel Truck, Kevin Fleischman and Todd LaVine for diving and locating the fault and to WPS locators Travis Orlando and Kurt Mueller for all their help in location and testing of the cable as well as all the different WPS line, management and engineering personnel who assisted in switching, advice and coordination.

Thanks to Tom and Brian Jordan for the use of truck and trailer to haul the repair piece of cable to the Potato Dock and to Alex and Ben Johnson, Bradley and Tom Jordan, Jeff Andersen and Kevin Krueger for the help with the back breaking task of loading and unloading it. Also thanks to Tom for allowing us to scavenge pipe and pump parts for our fueling operation and the use of a small generator for the diving operation.

Special thanks also to Lee Engstrom, your Board Secretary, who spent 12 and 14 hour days both at the Cooperative and on the barge not only photographing and documenting the progress but helping in any way he could

If we have forgotten anyone in all the hubbub, please accept our sincere thanks along with our apologies!!!

We will be compiling all this information and including it on our soon to be available Web Page along with photos and a video of the incident.

Now, as noted in previous communication, the next step is replacement of the compromised cable.  This will be every bit as challenging as the repair and we will continue to need your support as we move down this path.  We will continue to communicate as much information regarding progress as we are able.

Courtney Cauldwell