Finance Committee: Island Cable Repair Stays in BudgetMay 16, 2019—The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee voted Thursday to retain funding in the state budget bill that offers disaster assistance for the repair and replacement of the underwater cable that failed last June, cutting off electricity to the residents of Washington Island.
The power failure—caused by recurring winter ice damage over multiple years—forced Washington Island Electric Cooperative to switch to more expensive backup generation until the cable could be spliced. With close cooperation from state and federal agencies on routing and permitting, a replacement cable was installed last fall and current costs are now approaching $4 million.
Teamwork TimeApril 30, 2019—This year’s budget process will be out of the ordinary in multiple ways. Tony Evers is the first Democrat to win the governor’s office in eight years, and both legislative houses reviewing his budget proposal are controlled by Republican majorities. Former leaders of both parties in the State Senate and Assembly recently speculated that 2019 might see three different budget bills: Governor Evers’ plan, another one crafted by legislative Republicans, and finally a compromise adopted well after the customary June 30 deadline. (Unlike the federal government, Wisconsin doesn’t shut down anything when a budget is late; the prior one simply stays in effect.)
ROPE Deployment Underway
April 4, 2019—Wisconsin electric cooperatives and others served in neighboring states by the Dairyland Power Cooperative generation and transmission system participate in a mutual assistance program known as ROPE—for Restoration of Power in an Emergency. A large ROPE deployment was underway Friday after the call for help went out on Thursday from Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services headquartered at Albert Lea, Minnesota. An estimated 400-500 poles were downed and approximately half the accounts on the Freeborn-Mower distribution system were without power in the wake of storms—snow, ice, mixed precipitation, and wind—that tore across the upper Midwest Wednesday and Thursday. Continue here...
Monarchs Still Need Help
March 28, 2019—Several times these past couple of years I’ve delivered updates on what’s been happening with the monarch butterfly and the decline of other pollinator species in North America. These are obvious concerns from the standpoint of environmental quality; less obvious but very real is our concern over the effect reduced butterfly numbers could have on rural utility operations The unfortunate fact is the monarch population east of the Rocky Mountains has declined by more than 80 percent over the past 20 years. Read the full story here.
Click here to learn how to create your own monarch butterfly habitat.
Co-op Difference | It's Not Easy Being Important
More than one veteran political analyst has said rural Wisconsin swing voters played an outsized role in deciding the 2016 presidential election—and nobody saw it coming. If it happens again in 2020, everyone will have seen it coming.
That was clear enough from a New York Times headline the first week in April proclaiming, “Wisconsin, Ground Zero for 2020 Politics, Looks Like a Tossup Again.”