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American Transmission Co. unveils groundbreaking new method for transmission line construction

Solo-Driver™ offers a faster, greener and more cost-effective option for foundation installation using vibratory technology

PEWAUKEE, Wis. – American Transmission Co. has developed a new method for installing transmission structure foundations that is faster, safer, more economical and  more environmentally friendly than traditional installation methods. Solo-Driver™ is ATC’s new, patent-pending method for installing foundations using a vibratory hammer. 

To date, the utility industry has largely relied on two methods for installing transmission structures when a concrete base is not needed: direct bury and traditional vibratory installation. With Solo-Driver, now there is a third choice. 

Solo-Driver is the first method of its kind to employ a single excavator equipped with a vibratory hammer for foundation installation. For this method, caisson foundations have been modified to include side tabs that the vibratory hammer grasps. Using the tabs, the hammer lifts the foundation from where it is pre-positioned horizontally on the ground, rotates it vertically into position, and vibrates it into the ground to the required depth. 

“This new method is a game changer in transmission line construction,” says ATC Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Mark Davis. “Solo-Driver is just one part of ATC’s commitment to excellence in transmission planning, construction and innovation, and we are excited to announce this new technology and share it with our transmission partners.”

Solo-Driver provides significant cost savings over traditional installation methods due to reduced labor costs, reduced equipment costs and increased efficiency. It has been shown to cut costs by as much as half in optimal conditions. The chart below compares Solo-Driver to traditional methods.

MethodAverage installation timeInstallations per dayCrew size
Direct bury150 min/structure45
Traditional vibratory75 min/foundation85
Solo-Driver™30 min/foundation182-3

 

Solo-Driver is safer than other methods. Traditional vibratory and direct bury installation methods require crews to manually position the foundation using one or more cranes and guiding cables. With Solo-Driver, the excavator and vibratory hammer maneuver the caisson, and safety interlock jaws on the hammer prevent it from dropping the caisson during installation, even if power is temporarily lost.

Solo-Driver has fewer environmental and landowner impacts than other methods. It requires significantly less equipment, which means less weight, resulting in minimal ground disturbance. It is also much quieter compared to other methods and requires just half of the overhead clearance of traditional methods.

To learn more about Solo-Driver and watch a video demonstration of the new method, visit atcllc.com/solo-driver.

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American Transmission Co. is a Wisconsin-based company that owns and operates the electric transmission system in portions of the Upper Midwest. Formed in 2001 as the nation’s first multi-state transmission-only utility, ATC has invested $4.1 billion to improve the adequacy and reliability of its infrastructure. ATC now has $4.4 billion in assets, including more than 9,540 miles of transmission lines and 548 substations. The company is a member of the MISO regional transmission organization, and provides nondiscriminatory service to all customers, supporting effective competition in energy markets without favoring any market participant. For more information, visit our website at www.atcllc.com.

ATC continues funding through the Community Planting Program for planting projects

New this year, communities can apply for pollinator-specific projects

PEWAUKEE, Wis. – American Transmission Co. will begin accepting applications on June 1 for its Community Planting Program, which provides financial support to eligible cities, villages, towns, counties and tribes in ATC’s service area for planting projects on public property.

Now in its fifth year, the program helps communities where ATC transmission facilities exist. Since its inception, ATC has awarded nearly $240,000 to more than 150 eligible municipalities and counties.

To qualify, communities must commit that all current and future planting plans and urban forestry activities near high-voltage electric transmission lines will comply with ATC’s maintenance standards.

Recipients can use the program funding to plant trees and other tall-growing vegetation outside the transmission line rights-of-way. New to the program in 2017 is a pollinator-specific planting component. Funding also will be considered for communities who commit to planting low-growing, compatible vegetation such as those suggested on ATC’s Grow Smart pollinator guide. The pollinator-attracting vegetation can be a seed mix, plants, plugs or a combination thereof.

“Applying for funding through the Community Planting Program gives communities across our service area an opportunity to beautify their public space,” said ATC’s Chief Operating Office, Mark Davis. “It’s important to plant trees and tall-growing vegetation outside the right-of-way. Since we also know that pollinators are in decline due to loss of habitat, this program now offers a great opportunity to restore that habitat by planting low-growing species that attracts pollinators.”

ATC will accept applications through Sept. 30, and award recipients will be selected and notified by the end of the year. ATC will accept one application per community, and the awards range from $100 to $5,000.

The Community Planting Program is part of the Grow Smart initiative, which is directed toward individual landowners and advocates planting low-growing, compatible vegetation in transmission line rights-of-way. Additional information about ATC’s own pollinator planting initiatives, the Community Planting Program application and eligibility criteria are available on ATC’s Grow Smart website at atc-GrowSmart.com.

Grow Smart® project attracting bees, butterflies and other pollinators to Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary

Seeding project takes place on May 9 in right-of-way alongside sanctuary                       

PEWAUKEE, WIS. – Phase two of American Transmission Co.’s Grow Smart® initiative to attract bees, butterflies and other pollinators in the right-of-way that borders Green Bay’s Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary property takes place on May 9. The right-of-way is located under and along high voltage transmission lines on the northern border of I-43; west of Danz Avenue. and east of Irwin Street.

The first phase of this pollinator project began in 2015, when ATC vegetation management contractors used vegetation mowers to control the invasive species, such as buckthorn, from approximately six acres of the right-of-way. The following year, herbicides were selectively applied to the remaining invasive species within that acreage. On May 9, ATC’s environmental contractor, Cardno, will use equipment to broadcast a pollinator seed mix over two and one-half acres of the right-of-way in an effort to establish pollinator habitat. Earlier this year, ATC established a partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for this project. As part of the agreement, the USFWS will supply the seed mix for the project.

“ATC’s Grow Smart® program offers suggestions for low-growing, compatible vegetation to plant in the right-of-way,” explained Gregory Levesque, director of environmental and local relations. “As an electric utility, we are uniquely positioned to establish our rights-of-way as suitable habitat to help pollinator species that we know are in decline. This project is one of many that ATC is initiating to revitalize our rights-of-way, by adjusting our seed mixes to include low-growing vegetation that attracts pollinators – such as those we promote in our Grow Smart® program. We are committed to helping our environment and pleased to be partnering with the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for this project.”

“We applaud ATC for this effort,” said Wildlife Sanctuary Executive Director Mike Reed. “They removed buckthorn and other invasive species from the land and are now replacing it with much-needed vegetation for pollinators. It fits in with the educational mission of the Sanctuary and lets people know that they, too, can plant vegetation that is beneficial for wildlife.”

ATC representatives and the Sanctuary Director will monitor the project throughout the growing season to evaluate and measure results. “By next year at this time, the data should provide us with a comprehensive picture of what plantings work well for that particular area, and what could be improved,” stated Levesque. “We’ll continue to maintain the vegetation at this site through our vegetation management program and volunteer activities.”

Anyone who would like to learn more about planting for pollinators can visit ATC’s Grow Smart® website: www.atc-GrowSmart.com. A free pollinator planting guide is available for download at the site.

ATC to present proposed routes for Riverside Transmission Line Project

Proposed line would connect expanded Riverside Energy Center to electric grid

Madison, Wis. – American Transmission Co. is continuing public outreach for the proposed 345,000-volt Riverside Transmission Line Project with the last in a series of informational open houses for residents and other stakeholders in the area. Project plans include an approximately 4- to 4.5-mile, double-circuit transmission line from a planned new substation near the Alliant Energy West Riverside Energy Center to an existing 345-kV transmission line in the Town of Beloit.

The project is needed to connect the expanded Riverside Energy Center to the electric transmission grid. The West Riverside Energy Center will include a natural gas-fueled generating station with an integrated solar installation.

“We have identified two proposed routes for the project. If the project is approved, the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin will select and order one route to be built,” said Charles Gonzales, ATC senior local relations representative. “This open house will provide property owners, local officials and other stakeholders in the area an opportunity to review project maps and ask questions.”

The open house date, time and location are listed below. Members of the project team will be on hand to answer questions and share information. There will not be a formal presentation.

Tuesday, May 2, 4 to 7 p.m.
Boundaries Bar & Grill, Birch Room Banquet Hall, 3807 S. Riverside Drive, Beloit

ATC plans to file a formal application to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin in summer 2017 for authorization to construct the line. If the project is approved by the PSC, construction is expected to begin in 2018 to meet an in-service date of 2019.

A project map and up-to-date information are available at http://www.atc-projects.com/projects/riverside-transmission-line-project/.

Aerial tree trimming planned for southwest Wisconsin area

Helicopter, air saw to be used along electric transmission line

MADISON, Wis. – Crews are planning to use a helicopter and heavy-duty air saw beginning this week to trim trees along an existing 69,000-volt transmission line from the Boscobel to the Wauzeka, Wis., area.

American Transmission Co. has contracted with Aerial Solutions, Inc. to manage vegetation growth along its transmission line corridors. The helicopters used by Aerial Solutions are equipped with heavy-duty air saws and rotary blades suspended on a 90- to 100-foot vertical boom.

When compared to the work of ground-based crews, the aerial saw has been highly efficient. “Typically it takes ground crews several days to accomplish what an aerial saw crew can in a few hours,” said Joe Benzschawel, ATC vegetation management specialist. “Since the work is weather-dependent, it could take one week for the aerial saw to complete the vegetation maintenance in this area.”

Managing the growth of trees and other vegetation near high-voltage transmission lines is important to help ensure public safety and electric system reliability. ATC performs routine vegetation management on its 9,540 miles of transmission lines in five-year cycles.

Note to editors: A map of the planned aerial saw work is available here. Video footage of similar vegetation management work is on our YouTube page.

 

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