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Electrifying new addition coming to Camano Island

Jun 25, 2023

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CAMANO ISLAND, Wash. — Long-awaited relief is on the way for the people of storm-prone Camano Island.

Terry Miller and his wife Cindy have lived there for 9 years. Even on a warm, sunny day, stormy thoughts aren't far away.

"I guess it's just one of the pleasures of living on the island," he chuckled.

High winds routinely rip the island, tearing down trees, turning off the power, and leaving people in the cold and dark.

Outages of several days at a time are common during storm season.

"It's not just the long outages. We get a number of brief interruptions. It's like somebody flips a switch," said Miller.

Those days are now numbered by 87 new power poles being installed from Stanwood to the island. The poles will carry a second line of electricity from the mainland.

Snohomish County PUD crews are erecting steel poles that won't break if trees topple into them.

The current line, 66 years old, will remain, giving the island's 18,000 residents two options when the storms come.

"This is a real game changer for the residents of Camano Island," said PUD spokeswoman Kellie Stickney. "Creating this additional line will make it so if the current line needs to be worked on, or if the line for some reason goes out, there will be another line feeding the island providing power to the residents."

The $11 million project has been in the works for a decade and will provide peace of mind to islanders, many of whom are senior citizens.

"We can't control the weather and we can't control the trees," said Stickney. "So we're going to control what we can control."

But the project isn't without its challenges. Because some of the poles are near water they must be planted in steel casings that keep water out and stabilize the ground.

"If you've ever tried to dig a hole on a beach you'll see the dirt keeps sloughing in. The more you dig down, the wider the hole gets and maybe you're not getting deeper at all," explained Stickney.

The hope is to have the project done by this storm season but it likely won't be complete until next year.