Kennebunkport Conservation Trust is looking at ways to restore electric power to the home and buildings on Goat Island after the undersea cable broke in early November. The light in the lighthouse and the fog signal are solar powered and operational. Tammy Wells photo

KENNEBUNKPORT – The underwater cable that provides electricity to the home occupied by the three-season lighthouse keeper on Goat Island snapped on Nov 3. 

Now the island’s owner, Kennebunkport Conservation Trust, is looking at what it will do to make sure there is electricity for the keeper’s home and to other island  buildings next year. 

The lighthouse itself is operational. The light in the tower has power,  as does the fog signal; both are solar, said the trust’s executive director Tom Bradbury. 

He said the conservation trust board was to meet to begin a conversation on next steps after lighthouse keeper Scott Dombrowski and his family woke up that morning in early November with no electricity.

The submarine cable had been installed in the 1980s, when the U.S. Coast Guard was responsible for the property, a replacement for an earlier undersea cable, said Bradbury. Quite simply, the 1980s version, underwater for about 38 years, had reached the end of its lifespan.  

What power source comes next is under discussion. Bradbury pointed out that in 2018, the trust, along with the Gulf of Maine Institute, University of New England and Kennebunk High School students, got together to discuss ways to supply power, should the cable fail. There were studies of wind, solar and tidal power. If solar turns out to be the answer, it would require the nod from the Maine Historic Preservation Commission, Bradbury noted.  


He said the board discussions would likely include how much power is needed, and at what times, among other factors. “We’ll have to study what is ultimately feasible,” he said 

Goat Island, which is about a mile offshore from Cape Porpoise Pier, is visited by hundreds of people in the summer and fall, said Bradbury. The keeper and an assistant keeper are there for three seasons, taking care of maintenance tasks, and greeting the visitors making sure they are safe. 

While the sudden failure of the cable is a problem, it is one that came toward the end of the season. It gave the the trust time to drain the pipes for the winter and shut the property down, he said. 

“We hope we’ll be able to figure it out and be back in business by early summer,” Bradbury said. If the answer is an undersea cable, it will mean finding one and getting it installed.  

Many inhabited Maine islands currently receive electric power through submarine cables from the mainland – or in some cases from island to island to the mainland. Versant Power, which serves eastern and northern Maine, announced projects this year to replace older undersea cables between Great Cranberry and Little Cranberry islands, and another project to Swan’s Island. 

On Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, the Vineyard Gazette reported in October that work to run two new submarine cable to the island was to commence sometime this fall, replacing 36-year-old cables. Other island communities facing eventual cable replacement have looked at alternatives, like Isle au Haut, which has explored solar power. 

Bradbury noted whatever option is decided for Goat Island, the trust will have to source funding. 

“There is no inexpensive option … we have to find the best,” he said. 

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