Power outage leaves thousands in the dark on a cold night in Kenosha; schools serve as shelters

KENOSHA -- It was a long night for We Energies crews in Kenosha as they worked to restore power to 19,000 customers. The vast majority of those customers without power were in the downtown Kenosha area. As of 11:30 p.m., that number was whittled down to 200. Power has since been restored to all customers this morning.

CLICK HERE to view the We Energies Outage Map.

Officials with the Kenosha County Sheriff's Department said late Wednesday night We Energies lost a transmission source  of 138,000 volts from American Transmission Company (ATC), that ultimately feeds three sub-stations. The equipment failure, a circuit breaker, is ATC's, which sheriff's officials said We Energies crews were working to bypass and/or fix.

We Energies first tried doing some switching, but that failed. They then decided to start bridging as many customers as possible using other sub-stations.

Of the initial 19,000 customer outages, approximately 9,000 had been restored as of 10:00 p.m. Wednesday -- including the City/County building that houses dispatch, law enforcement and EM as well as Froedert Hospital South - Kenosha campus, sheriff's officials said.

Sheriff's officials noted that working with 138,000 volts is tricky. They said "the best guess at this point per the We Energies technicians is full restoration by 10:30 p.m.

Indian Trail Academy and Tremper High School were opened as warming shelters around 8:15 p.m. Additionally, the Salvation Army, located near 75th Street and 32nd Avenue opened Wednesday night as a shelter.

"We are committed to serving families in every community. We will be open until power has been restored," said Major Steve Merritt, divisional commander for the Salvation Army in Wisconsin and Upper Michigan.


We Energies officials worked with American Transmission Company to resolve this.

ATC officials said this was caused by a "problem at a substation" in Kenosha -- an electrical issue. We Energies officials said the cold is impeding the work being done. We Energies crews are working to bring power to customers from other sources. Police said officers were manning intersections because there are no working traffic signals.