After 66 years, Sawbill Canoe Outfitters connects to the grid
Sawbill Canoe Outfitters

After 66 years, Sawbill Canoe Outfitters connects to the grid

After more than 66 years of generating its own power, in late November the electrical (and fiber) grid made its way to Sawbill Canoe Outfitters on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Owners Clare and Dan Shirley said people often assumed that the Cook County business and home have always been connected to power because of their sizable campus and modern amenities.

“The reality is we have maintained our own mini power plant. It has grown and morphed over the years, utilizing a combination of solar, wind, propane and diesel generation,” they told WTIP.

The project was made possible by a federal grant using the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF). Arrowhead Cooperative was awarded $18.4 million over ten years to expand broadband and electric services to rural areas of Cook County.

The task to connect Sawbill Canoe Outfitters to the grid took eight weeks to complete and a distance of 9.5 miles. It was the first project in Cook County to be completed using funds from the RDOF.

“I would just express a lot of gratitude to Arrowhead Cooperative for having so much foresight, and pursuing a project like this,” Dan Shirley said.

WTIP’s Kalli Hawkins spoke with Clare and Dan Shirley to learn more about the project and some of their favorite memories of operating off-grid. Audio from the interview is below.

Photos by Sawbill Canoe Outfitters:

WTIP’s Kalli Hawkins also spoke with John Twiest, CEO/General Manager with Arrowhead Cooperative to learn more about the project and the value it brings to Cook County. To listen to the full interview click here.