From charity runs to trivia nights and volunteer events, American Transmission Co. team members are putting their positive energy to work for great causes this summer.
Scroll to the bottom of this page and click through the slideshow to see just some of the ways ATC employees volunteered their time and energy this summer.
ATC helps sponsor hundreds of community events throughout the year. ATC also cares about the organizations important to its employees – ATC’s Matching Gifts Programs supports employee donations to arts, environmental and educational organizations. It’s just one reason why ATC is consistently ranked as one of the nation’s best workplaces.
American Transmission Co. has been recognized with the Business Friend of the Environment – Environmental Stewardship award from Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce. The annual award recognizes companies that demonstrate environmental leadership and take a cooperative approach toward improving the environment.
ATC received the award for efforts to support pollinator habitats and improve bird safety around our transmission facilities. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp presented the award at this year’s WMC Policy Day on Tuesday at the Monona Terrace in Madison.
Avian Protection Program
ATC supports sustainable environmental policies and actions. During facility siting and design, ATC identifies areas of heavy avian use and evaluates measures to mitigate potential avian impacts. ATC also installs flight diverters and perch guards to prevent birds from becoming injured by transmission lines or structures.
ATC began tracking avian interactions with our transmission facilities nearly 10 years ago, and as part of our compliance plan, we report bird injuries and fatalities to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. But today, we go beyond simple reporting. Our environmental and geological information systems departments recently collaborated to develop a tool to track and map avian events and nests. The Avian Tracking Tool uses statistics to assign risk levels to line segments and structures on our system. We use this information to identify areas where incidents, including bird fatalities from collisions and electrocutions, occur. With this information, we can plan for appropriate protection measures when designing new projects, rebuilding existing lines or performing maintenance on our system. Overall, these efforts will help reduce the number of avian interactions with our transmission lines and facilities, and in turn help reduce avian caused outages.
ATC works with its construction contractors to plant seed mixes in our transmission line rights-of-way that generate beautiful vegetation beneficial to many species of pollinators.
ATC is using an innovative approach to identify which rights-of-way to distribute the enhanced seed mixes. ATC developed a new geographic information system model to identify right-of-way segments where enhanced seed mixes could help better connect pollinators to their environments.
Helping pollinators is part of ATC’s Grow Smart® program, which provides property owners and communities with suggestions for low-growing, beautiful, compatible vegetation that can be planted in our rights-of-way –a safe distance from transmission lines.
In hot weather, power lines can overheat just as people and animals do. The lines are often heavily loaded because of increased power consumption, and the conductors – which are generally made of copper or aluminum – expand when heated. That expansion increases the slack between transmission line structures, causing the lines to sag.
Transmission lines are designed to meet the requirements of state electrical codes. State codes provide minimum distances between wires, poles, the ground and buildings. Industry standards are often more strict and are incorporated in transmission line design, construction and maintenance.
Summer storms entered southwest Wisconsin, impacting American Transmission Co.’s system June 28. The storms set an event record for ATC with 65 downed structures. ATC, Alliant Energy and contractors worked as one team to rebuild and restore power. Chris Dailey, team leader, transmission line maintenance, played an integral role in restoring power. He explains what happened:
Shortly after 6 p.m. on June 28, three 69-kilovolt lines experienced outages requiring field investigation to determine the cause. ATC’s first responder for the area, Alliant Energy, was asked to investigate the source of the outages. In the meantime, ATC system operators took charge and were able to conduct prompt switching to restore all electric transmission service. ATC monitored pictures and posts on social media, which gave us a real-time sense of what was going on in the communities we serve. The pictures were eye-opening: dozens of poles snapped-off and laying across the road.
Soon, field reports of downed structures started coming in to ATC from Alliant Energy. All told, 65 toppled structures were on the ground among the three lines – Y-105 from Hillman to Eden, Wis., Y-106 from Rock Branch to Eden, Wis., and Y-87 from South Monroe to North Monroe, Wis. The local volunteer fire station recorded one wind gust at 81 miles per hour and another at 101 miles per hour in the area of Y-105 and Y-106. The National Weather Service confirmed an EF1 tornado passed through Y-87.
With roads closed and wires down, we wanted to get resources deployed promptly. Construction contractor Henkels & McCoy was called to assist in Alliant Energy’s initial safety efforts and began the cleanup process. As the night rolled on, we learned that Alliant Energy had a power outage affecting the Village of Livingston in Grant County, Wis. Alliant Energy’s distribution lines were on ATC structures, and both were out of service due to downed structures.
Due to the magnitude of the event and the concerns of our customers, ATC’s design engineering team was consulted and began the redesign process of the Highway 80 segment of line Y-105, where 21 poles were down. Through the night, this most critical stretch was designed and materials lists were generated so we could get materials arranged and to the site to begin the rebuild process in the morning.
The next morning, the rest of the design engineering team was deployed on the redesign of the other damaged areas. In addition, more Henkels & McCoy resources were deployed, and our other construction alliance contractor, MJ Electric, was called to assist with the reconstruction efforts. To help facilitate the significant field presence, construction management resources were brought in to the project in the early morning to oversee field operations.
All-in-all, it was a true team effort with asset maintenance, design engineering, construction management, Border States Electric, Henkels & McCoy and MJ Electric working together to restore power. In total, 65 new poles were installed, wires were restrung and power was restored to all three circuits withinin just 48 hours of learning of the damages. I’m proud of how we responded. The field resources did an outstanding job of safely working through long hours and hot weather to complete the effort. It’s ATC’s response to events like this that makes me proud of the company.
At American Transmission Co., we care about the community and are committed to helping great organizations like The Ice Age Trail Alliance provide opportunities for kids to learn. The Alliance’s Summer Saunters program is a great way for kids to learn about Wisconsin’s glacial, cultural and natural history while hiking and exploring along the trail. The program takes children on five unique hikes on the Trail within 1.5 hours of Milwaukee.
We visited the Summer Saunters group as they spent a day along the Trail in the Kettle Moraine State Forest – Southern Unit.