Gov. declares state of emergency for Washington Island

Published: Jul. 13, 2018 at 4:33 PM CDT
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Gov. Scott Walker declared a state of emergency Friday for Washington Island, which faces the threat of power outages.

An underwater electric cable was severely damaged by ice. Islanders had a power outage in June and face the risk of more outages as the island's power is provided by diesel backup generators, according to the governor's proclamation.

The Washington Island Electric Cooperative says it made temporary repairs to the cable earlier this month. Replacing the cable will take months. The cooperative is working with federal and state authorities to route the power line across Plum Island, which would make it less prone to ice shoves. Work on the Plum Island route could start in September or October if it gets permission from the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Declaring a state of emergency makes Washington Island eligible for more resources and directs state agencies to provide help to the island until the cable is repaired.

The cooperative is still estimating the cost of replacing the cable. Studying the issue five years ago, it came up with a cost of more than $2 million to purchase 20,000 feet of armored submarine cable and bury it 2 or 3 feet under the sediment in 30 feet of water.