Power line work targets outage woes on north side

Wire along trail will be buried to improve reliability, address complaints
By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

People who frequent the Ozaukee Interurban Trail should get used to the sounds of construction this winter.

We Energies is expected to bury one of the two power lines that hang next to the bike trail between Hales Trail and Jackson Street, Mayor Ted Neitzke said.

The bike path will remain open while the lines are buried, he said, noting the work will be adjacent to the trail.

To facilitate the work, the Common Council on Tuesday approved a 15-foot easement alongside the bike trail that will allow the utility to install and maintain the line.

The work is an effort by the utility to increase the reliability of power to the north side of the city, Neitzke said.

“This stretch (of lines along the bike trail) is a significant reason we lose power on the north end of town,” he said. “To have it buried is fantastic.”

Neitzke noted that residents on the north side of Port often lose power during storms, and each time it happens he receives calls and emails from people who feel the need to buy back-up generators to ensure they have power.

When meeting with business leaders in the city, he added, the biggest complaint he has heard is inconsistent power.

It’s also been a worry for city officials because the lines provide power to the wastewater and water plants, he said.

Neitzke said that he and City Administrator Tony Brown met with We Energies officials last year and brought up the matter, and at the time the utility representatives said burying the lines was something they were considering.

“I do appreciate We Energies and this strategy,” he said.

Brown said that We Energies officials said most of the outages reported are related to trees and branches falling on the lines, a situation made worse as the emerald ash borer has decimated countless trees along the bike trail,

But, he added, the utility is looking at other potential causes of outages.

“They’re working to look at those problem areas,” he said.

In a memo to the council, Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said that only one line will be buried because We Energies’ electrical engineering planners determined it was best to leave one overhead, in part to aid in the restoration of power after storms.

Ald. Mike Gasper asked whether the utility will extensively remove trees while doing the work.

In his memo to the council, Vanden Noven said the trees near the lines will be “very well trimmed back” as part of the project.

  Ald. Deb Postl, who worked for the utility for years, said she was told that the trees need to be trimmed in order to get the necessary equipment in place to do the work.

“We don’t know how extensive the forestry will be,” she said.

 

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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