American Transmission Co.

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Why responsible vegetation management is crucial for electric safety and reliability

At ATC, we care about delivering power safely and reliably. We also care about our environment and our communities. We work to balance our obligation to operate our facilities safely while being a respectful neighbor.

Removal of trees around transmission lines is an important part of operating the lines safely and reliably. If vegetation grows too close to the wires, it can cause a dangerous situation. A tree branch does not even need to come in contact with a transmission line to create a hazard; electricity can jump from the wires to another source, such as a tree, igniting a fire or creating a dangerous electrical path. If this happens, there is an obvious safety risk to anyone nearby or any crews working on the lines. Wide-spread power outages can also occur.

Understandably, some landowners question the need for removal of trees that might have been trimmed, or allowed to remain, in the past. After widespread outages in other parts of the country, vegetation management practices throughout the industry and at ATC have changed in recent years.

We manage vegetation within our rights-of-way, which include land directly below and beside the wires. In all cases, incompatible vegetation within the wire zone must be cleared. Tall-growing trees, vegetation and brush must be cleared, but some low-growing shrubs and plants may be permitted. In partnership with gardening expert and horticulturist Melinda Myers, our Grow Smart® program helps property owners and communities identify low-growing, beautiful, native vegetation that can be planted the smart way – a safe distance from transmission lines. View or print the Grow Smart Planting Guide or Grow Smart Pollinator Guide for suggested vegetation that is similar to what we plant in our rights-of-ways after construction.

We conduct right-of-way vegetation management approximately every five years with the goal of removing all incompatible vegetation. Interim work to trim or remove vegetation is sometimes needed. Crews use manual, mechanical and limited herbicide control methods to achieve a clear and safe right-of way. We contract with professional tree trimming and removal companies that have extensive experience in proper pruning and removal techniques.

We typically notify landowners by mail in advance of any work on their properties and provide a description of our plans, the reason for the work, the time frame and contact information for an ATC representative.

We are also proud to be recognized as a leader in responsible vegetation management practices. We have received the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Line USA® designation every year since 2008. Our Community Planting Program helps support efforts to beautify communities in our service area in a way that’s consistent with safety and maintenance standards. Eligible cities, villages, towns, counties and tribes may apply for financial support for planning projects on public property within their communities. Applications are accepted June 1 through Sept. 30 each year. In fact, we just awarded $56,000 to 27 communities as part of the project.

If you have any questions about our practices, we encourage you to reach out to us at localrelations@atcllc.com.

ATC’s Brian Drumm elected Treasurer of WIRES

Bob McKee
Director, Strategic Projects

Brian Drumm
Manager, Regulatory Relations & Policy and Associate General Counsel

Brian Drumm, manager, regulatory relations and policy and associate general counsel at American Transmission Co., will serve as Treasurer of WIRES trade association in 2018 after being elected at the group’s annual meeting in Sonoma, Calif.

Bob McKee, director, strategic projects at ATC, is on the Board of Directors for WIRES. McKee served as President of WIRES in 2016 and Vice President in 2015.

Drumm will join McKee in leading WIRES to educate policy makers, regulators and other key stakeholders about the role and importance of transmission in addressing customers’ needs.

WIRES is an international non-profit trade association of investor-, public-, and cooperative-owned transmission providers, transmission customers, regional grid managers, and equipment and service companies. WIRES promotes investment in electric transmission and progressive state and federal policies that advance energy markets, economic efficiency, and consumer and environmental benefits through development of electric power infrastructure.​

ATC, Milwaukee Wave team up to support Boys & Girls Clubs’ STEM programming

American Transmission Co. and the Milwaukee Wave are teaming up to support STEM – or science, technology, engineering and math – programming for Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee through an initiative called Goals for Good.

For each goal the Wave scores during home games this season, ATC will donate $25 to STEM programming for Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee.

Boys & Girls Clubs’ DIY STEM program provides youth who might not otherwise have access to STEM experiences with simple, fun, hands-on activities. It emphasizes connections between theory and application in energy and electricity, engineering design, food chemistry and sports science.

Goals for Good is part of ATC’s commitment to support quality STEM education. ATC helps schools design projects that give students real-world experience solving engineering problems. ATC employees also visit middle and high schools through ATC’s service area to share their own stories about successful careers in STEM.

ATC awarded for workplace excellence by New North

American Transmission Co. has been recognized with a Workplace Excellence Award from the New North, the marketing and economic development organization supporting 18 counties in northeastern Wisconsin.

The award acknowledges ATC’s people practices that drive business results, focusing on efforts to attract, develop and retain diverse talent. In evaluating ATC’s nomination, the award committee noted the company’s efforts to maintain a strong workplace culture through its total rewards program and the concurrent rollout of ATC’s vision, mission and values. The nomination detailed examples of how employees live ATC’s values: we care, we challenge, we commit, we compete and we celebrate.

In focusing specifically on the De Pere office, which is located within the New North boundaries, the award committee learned about employee volunteerism, including our partnership with the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary, Service League, food drives and holiday sponsorships. They also learned about the office’s culture of fun, appreciation for food, and health and wellness initiatives.

New North’s award selection team made a visit to the De Pere office in November, where they learned how ATC’s vision, mission and values achieve business results and contribute to the organization’s success. They also interviewed a panel of six De Pere employees to validate their impressions.

The award was presented at the New North Annual Summit at the KI Convention Center in Green Bay on Thursday, Dec. 7.

ATC and Milwaukee Bucks award Salem School with 20 trees

Late November in Wisconsin does not typically bring to mind kids outside and tree planting, much less – together.

On Nov. 30 though, it was a little different at Salem School District in Salem, Wis. – mostly because the ground wasn’t frozen. In fact, it was a bluebird day – in the low 40s with only a moderately steady sting of cold wind. It was the perfect time to plant 20 trees, because trees actually can be planted in late autumn after their leaves have fallen. In the ground, the roots go dormant. And come spring, they take root as the snow melt transitions to rain.

But let’s back up.

American Transmission Co. committed to donating 355 trees to Wisconsin communities this year as part of a partnership with the Milwaukee Bucks called Trees for Threes. The program sponsors the planting of a new tree in Wisconsin for each three-point shot the Bucks made at home during the 2016-2017 season.

Salem School District received 20 of those trees, which came from a nursery. That’s not the unusual part.

The trees weren’t from just any nursery – but a nursery that ATC owns. Yes, it’s true – an electric transmission company can own a tree farm, albeit – we are not tree farmers. ATC purchased the former nursery property for the new Balsam Substation in the town of Wheatland in Kenosha County. Instead of cutting the trees, we transplanted them with the help of Paul Swartz Nursery. Salem School is one of the fortunate recipients.

Balsam Substation is part of the Spring Valley-North Lake Geneva Project, which will ultimately provide electric reliability throughout southeast Wisconsin when it goes into service in 2020. The project also includes an approximately 25-mile transmission line, and the new line will eventually cross the southern edge of Salem School.

Salem School Administrator Dr. David Milz couldn’t be more pleased with the new trees. “On behalf of Salem School, I’d like to thank the American Transmission Company, the Milwaukee Bucks, and Paul Swartz Nursery for teaming up and selecting us to receive free trees to help beautify our school grounds and contribute positively to our environment,” said Dr. Milz. “We look forward to seeing the trees grow and will certainly appreciate all that they bring for a very long time. The staff and students were excited to be part of this special event.”

At ATC, we have a commitment to the environment and the communities we serve. The Trees for Threes initiative aligns with ATC’s Grow Smart® program, which helps property owners and communities identify low-growing, compatible vegetation that can be planted the smart way – a safe distance from transmission line rights-of-way.

In the case of Salem School, the 20 trees planted on Nov. 30 now have the opportunity to grow and thrive – providing shade and beauty for students, parents and staff – for decades to come.

Interested in helping a school in your area receive trees too? ATC is distributing trees to schools for the 2017-2018 Milwaukee Bucks season, too. School representatives can learn more or register at www.bucks.com/trees.

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