What's New With BEC?
Bayfield County was recognized as the first Telecommuter Forward! Community in the state of Wisconsin thanks to Norvado. See the official press release and more information at http://norvado.com/telecommuter/.
Wisconsin Electric Coops Help Florida Rebuild
To see a video that details the Wisconsin electric co-op's response to Hurricane Irma, click the link below.
To read about how linemen have stepped up to help Florida recover from Hurricane Irma, click the link below.
Bayfield Electric sent two linemen, Nat Madison and Dustin McKay, to help with the destruction in Florida
The Iron River Summerfest took place June 9 and 10. The small town was busy with town-wide garage sales, the Spider Lake Run, the Iron River Firemen’s Benefit Dance, and sunny weather! The annual Spider Lake Run was held Saturday, June 10, with the option of participating in the 10K, 5K, or 2-mile walk/run. Bayfield Electric sponsored the run, and the girls participated! Join us next year for some fresh air and exercise!
Bayfield Electric employees and board members pose for a picture in front of the completed Solar Garden
In October 2016, we celebrated our up and running 300KW Solar Garden! Special thanks to BEC members and our contractors; Ten-K Solar, Solarized, Zinniel Electric, and Santikko Logging, INC. The solar garden would not have been possible without all of your help! There are still a few shares available, please contact Larry at (715)-372-4287 for more details, or see our "Solar/Load Management" tab for more information.
August 2016- The kids from Smiling Faces Child Care in Iron River made a giant "Thank You" to our staff and linemen for all their hard work during the July storms.
Sept 23rd, 2016- Linemen present our hotline demo at our Iron River warehouse (above). Photos from our participation in the Iron River Blueberry Festival, July 2016 (below).
To see the full construction of our new facility.
Please click the link below:
Lineman Appreciation Day was April 13th,2015. This is a time to express our utmost appreciation to the great men and women that work so hard for us every day.
Bayfield Electric builds new Osprey Home.
At the Loon Saloon on Anderson Island in Lake Namakagon, just off County Highway D, one of the more popular pastimes in the spring and summer is watching the ospreys flying in and out to their nest high atop a power pole near the lakeshore with fresh-caught fish to feed their chicks.
It is a scene of rare natural wonder, but it is also one fraught with peril for the ospreys, as high voltage pulses in the power cables just inches from their nest.
“The first time I ran into this was about eight years ago, when we had an electrical outage, so I went down there and the pole was on fire, because the power tracked from the wet sticks in the nest to down to the line and started the pole on fire,” said Bill Johnson, new service and inventory coordinator for Bayfield Electric Cooperative. “We actually had to cut the pole off and rebuild the whole thing. Not a good thing.”
Johnson said the presence of the ospreys has been a continuing issue. Once the nesting season is over, the nest can be removed, but the raptors simply build anew.
“It’s cost numerous outages and interruptions, blinks in the lights,” he said. “It’s just been a source of trouble for years.”
And bad for the birds as well. At least once when Bayfield Electric crews have come to the site, they have found the body of a dead young osprey at the base of the pole.
The problem is that the ospreys appear to like this particular pole.
“The spot is really good,” explained Johnson. “It’s right on the island, and all they eat is fish, so they build their nest right where they can see out on the lake.”
Watching the ospreys waiting for a meal to come swimming by has turned into a spectator event at the Loon Saloon.
“People come in to the Loon Saloon just to watch them fish and feed their babies,” said Johnson.
The insistence of the ospreys in nesting at that exact location has been proven to be a real dilemma for Bayfield Electric.
Under the Federal Migratory Bird Act, they can’t disturb the nesting birds, which means that the potential for power outages and fires, not to mention death for the birds, is ever-present.
“We didn’t want to make them go away, we just wanted to make a better spot for them to have a nest,” Johnson said.
Out of these two needs came a perfect solution. Construct a nesting platform near the site of the power pole where the ospreys can build their nest in peace, away from the dangerous high-tension wires, but where the fans at the Loon Saloon can keep tabs on the resident raptors. And also from where the ospreys can continue to have a good vantage of the lake.
Earlier this year, a Bayfield Electric crew set about to create an osprey lakefront high-rise, placing a tall treated pole about 30 feet from the original nest site, with a flat platform at the very top, where the ospreys can deposit their nesting material free of the danger of electrocution and fires.
The pole was erected with the assistance of a truck with a self-contained auger, that was able to get to the site on a temporary roadbed of large round wooden cable spool ends to keep the truck from sinking into the soft earth.
The project was the subject of considerable coordination.
“The road limits were on the roads, but Bayfield County gave us permission to do it,” said Johnson.
Bayfield Electric also had the assistance of the Department of Natural Resources, with Northern Region Ecologist Ryan Magana advising the project.
Even the pole to which the osprey-nesting platform was attached was part of the cooperative effort.
“We got it used from my pole vendor, Bell Lumber and Poles, of New Brighton, Minn.,” Johnson said. “This pole had been in the ground for 50 years, and they refurbish them, so it is good for another 50 years. They gave it to us at a discounted rate because I told her what we were going to use it for.”
One of the crucial parts in making the project work is to convince the birds that they should abandon their old site for the new platform.
Magana told the Bayfield Electric representatives that if the new site were within 100 feet of the old site and was on a higher pole, the birds would prefer the higher site.
“He said if you make it look attractive to them, they will go there,” Anderson said.
Putting in the new platform was the first part of the project. Removing the old nest is the second part. So far, the ground has been too soft to get their truck to the power poll, but Johnson said the nest would be removed as soon as possible, to insure the material was gone by the time the birds return for the summer.
“It’s a win-win for everyone concerned said Johnson. “The ospreys are better off, we are better off, and folks at the Loon Saloon can continue to osprey watch.”
Johnson said ospreys are a minor issue compared to bears, which seem to think that the creosote-covered poles were placed there for their convenience as claw-sharpening devices and back scratchers.
“They will pick a pole they like and just shred it,” Johnson said. “We’ve even had poles that were so clawed up that they break in half.”
Ospreys are not nearly as destructive. Aside from the risk of causing an occasional electrical fire, they are a marvelous symbol of nature.
The birds, often known as fish hawks or river hawks, are large raptors, growing to more than 24 inches in length and 71 inches across the wings. They reach sexual maturity in about three years and breed from three to seven years of age, depending on what part of their range they occupy, usually mating for life.
They are almost exclusively fish-eaters, but have been known to prey on amphibians, other birds and small mammals to the size of a hare.
According to Magana, there are 11 nesting pairs of ospreys known to nest in Bayfield County, part of a population of 535 nesting pairs estimated to live in Wisconsin. Ospreys have a worldwide distribution, and while not on the endangered or threatened species lists in the United States, are still relatively rare, and are protected by the Federal Migratory Species Act. They will return to the same nesting site year after year, and some sites are known to have been in annual use for nearly a century.
They are world-class migrators; after a summer in their nesting and rearing areas, they fly to wintering sites near the Gulf of Mexico and Central America.
Magana said the problems faced by Bayfield Electric were not unusual.
“Over 80 percent of the osprey nests we have across the state are on some sort of man-made structure,” he said. “Sometimes they are on power poles. Sometimes they are on cell phone towers. The other category is purposefully constructed osprey platforms.
Magana said the DNR will sometimes request the construction of osprey platforms, which he said aids power companies when they need to do maintenance on their poles. After all, when the birds are nesting, no work can be done at the site.
“Moving them to a platform away from that structure is advantageous for the birds too,” he said.
Building a nesting alternative is necessary, Magana said.
“If the nest is removed and there isn’t an alternative, we’ve seen numerous times that they just come back to the same pole,” he said. “Putting up an alternative nesting structure is the most successful way of getting them off that pole and keeping them off.”
Because of this, Magana said the DNR was delighted to have new osprey structures put in place by private industry, noting that while the Department used to erect the platforms themselves, that activity has largely ceased, although they continue to give platforms out to interested parties.
Magana said it was an effort well worth doing, and one that was done at considerable expense to the company.
“They are donating time and resources and they don’t have to, and we are very grateful for that,” he said.
Rick Olivo can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
RUS ELECTRIC SUCCESS STORY
Bayfield Electric Cooperative has started a program teaching the area students what Cooperatives are all about.
We partnered with two local cooperatives, Midland Energy and Norvado to reach out the 5th grade students at the Mellen Elementary school. Bob Kretzschmar, Bayfield Electric’s Board President, Midland and Norvado, met with the Mellen 5th grade class. Each Cooperative spoke to the class, teaching the class what a cooperative was, why they exist, the benefits of being a member and the cooperative principles. The students also learned about the challenges faced by rural areas and the benefits of working together. The class then broke into smaller teams and developed 30 second radio advertisements on the benefits of your local cooperatives, which were then played on a local radio station.
Bayfield Electric also partnered with Midland, Iron County Community Credit Union, and Northwoods Community Credit Union, in putting together a similar program at the Hurley Elementary 5th grade. Bayfield Electric’s board of director Ken Clement helped to implement the program at the Hurley Elementary school.
We are hoping to expand the program even further this fall so please reach out to us at Bayfield Electric if you have any questions or interest in developing a similar program at your school.