Northern Michigan endured winds in excess of 50 miles-per-hour on Friday, Sept. 21. These powerful gusts took down trees and left thousands of co-op members without power. They also forced the Mackinac Bridge to partially close, which complicated restoration efforts.

Alger Delta Cooperative was hit hard. At the height of the event, about one-quarter of their system was without power (2,500 outages). The co-op reached out to Joe McElroy, safety director and mutual aid coordinator at MECA, for mutual aid assistance on Friday afternoon.

However, this mutual aid request couldn’t be handled the typical way.

Due to strong winds, the Mackinac Bridge was closed to all vehicles except for small passenger cars. As a rule, when winds reach 55 miles per hour, the bridge closes to high-profile vehicles such as trucks and trailers. Mutual aid crews were unable to cross to the upper peninsula with their equipment.

Help would have to come a different way.

Unsure of how long the bridge would be closed, McElroy put in a call to Wisconsin’s Restoration of Power in an Emergency (ROPE) program. Within a few hours, Wisconsin co-op crews were confirmed and headed out. Co-ops that provided assistance to Alger Delta include Pieper Power, Oakdale Electric Cooperative, Eau Claire Electric Cooperative, Bayfield Electric Cooperative, Oconto Electric Cooperative and Ontonagon Electric Cooperative.

Except for Ontonagon, the rest of the support came in from Wisconsin, underscoring the value of being part of the out-of-state mutual aid program.

Co-ops in the lower peninsula also provided aid to each other.

Co-op Outages Mutual Aid
Cherryland  2,500 Wolverine
Great Lakes Energy  17,000 Wolverine, GLE south
PIE&G  16,000 Wolverine, HomeWorks, Bay City, Thumb
Cloverland  12,000 Cherryland

As the weekend wrapped up, so did the outages.

“Thanks to all involved, including Midwest Energy and all of the municipals that stood ready to help if called upon,” said McElroy. “It’s the dedication of all involved that makes our mutual aid program work.”