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HomeExcursionsThe Winter Run / Power Problems

The Good Old Generating Station gets us through once again despite decision to shut it down!

powerproblem     Only minutes after I sent you all a little Island news on Friday the power on Beaver Island went out.  No blinking lights, no warning!! 10:30 am Friday, Feb. 26 something happened to the cable feeding our power from the mainland. It's broke!!!
     A mostly unbelievable chain of events occurred just prior to this happening.  On Wednesday morning I was dropping out road engineer, Gary Vooght, off at the airport to catch a flight back to the mainland.
Getting out of the plane were 3 employees of Wolverine Power Supply whom I know.  I asked if they needed a ride to town to which they responded affirmatively.
     As we left the airport I asked what they were up to.  they informed me that they were on the Island to mothball the power plant, to red tag it and take it out of service. Further that my brother John nor I would be required to keep an eye on the plant or stand by in case it were needed!! Naturally I was surpassed and asked if John had been informed, he hadn't. Anyway we proceeded to help them "mothball" the plant and watched as they had the fuel taken out of all of the tanks and hauled away!! This was truly going to leave us without any backup power supply and only the 1 1/4" diameter power cable from the mainland to keep us going.  This issue, of course, came up many times but these gentlemen were simply following orders.
     Soon word got out and some township officials and others got on the horn to higher ups in the company to find out what was going on.  There was much surprise and confusion.  Anyway, after a great deal of time, it was agreed to leave the fuel in one generator (which could not carry the whole island anyway) as an emergency unit.  Much politicking continued but to no avail for a quick reversal of the plan.  Thursday morning at 10:30 am red tags were placed on all of the equipment, generators, pumps, etc. and the men left.  Our instructions were to keep out, basically we had been fired!
     Here's where it really turns into a story for Ripley! Almost exactly at 10:30 Friday morning the power went out!! After some discussion we decided this whole week was some kind of setup to bring attention to the very poor condition of the power plant and this was an extension of that plan.  What we didn't know is that the people over in the "United States" were over there thinking that Rich and John did something to the cable!! We were upset but not such that we would want to start that old place up for the winter. Anyway it was later discovered that the cable had failed.  Irony, you bet.
     It took some time to get approval to start the so-called emergency generator and almost two more hours before we could have fuel put back in the tanks and get back on line.  Now mind you these generators haven't run 24 hours a day in 15 years!! Nervous, you bet.  Anyway we got the Island back on power and are holding our own.
     There was a meeting yesterday morning with the chairman of Great Lakes Energy, Ed Doss (picture attached) to discuss the problem and the solution(s).   Mr. Doss is a fine man who speaks directly and frankly to the issues.  He made it a point to express his anger at those who initiated the mothballing of the plant without further consultation followed by a lengthy discussion with community leaders regarding the future.  There is too much on that front to cover here except to say that they have many options under consideration. For the short term they are planning the repair of the cable and searching frantically for stand by generators to get us through.
     Great Lakes Energy will be sending out a letter this week to all Island customers regarding the problem and some suggestions. I volunteered to get a note out to the Internet users with some suggestions. Here goes:

  • If you are going to use your computer, use it and shut it down particularly in bad weather.  Save your work often.
  • If there is an ice storm or any heavy wind it is not advisable to keep your computer on. With the generators we are more likely to have an outage than with the cable.
  • Try to do your cooking early or late.  The peak times are, obviously, breakfast, lunch and dinner time. Bath time is also a peak load time.
  • If you can adjust your schedule for these things either to prepare foods earlier or later we can void potential outages. Fortunately it is not that cold. This would certainly increase the load. Try to avoid
    operating things you don't need.

We can get by but we need to be conservative, your help will see us through.

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Thanks, Rich Gillespie




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