PSC commissioners verbally approve Northern Route at open meeting; final order will be issued by April 24, 2015
MADISON, Wis. – Following more than four years of public involvement and regulatory review, the merits of the 345,000-volt Badger Coulee Transmission Line Project were discussed today by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. At an open meeting, the PSC commissioners agreed with the project’s need and benefits outlined by American Transmission Co. and Xcel Energy for the approximately 180-mile line, which will electrically connect the La Crosse area to northern Dane County. The next step is for the Commissioners’ discussion to be documented in a written order and then approved by the Commissioners at an open meeting before April 24, 2015.
“We appreciate the public’s active involvement throughout our public outreach and the regulatory review process,” said ATC Manager of Environmental and Local Relations Greg Levesque. “Public input helps identify ways to avoid and minimize environmental and community impacts. We will continue to communicate with affected property owners and communities in the years to come to ensure the safe construction of the line.”
During the meeting, PSC commissioners selected the Northern Route, which was one of the two options submitted by the applicants. More than 90 percent of the Northern Route uses existing utility and Interstate or U.S. highway corridors. The project’s end points are Xcel Energy’s new Briggs Road Substation near Holmen and ATC’s North Madison Substation in the Town of Vienna, continuing to ATC’s Cardinal Substation in the Town of Middleton. The PSC’s order for the project, including any minor route adjustments or conditions ATC and Xcel Energy must meet to construct the project, will be issued by April 24, 2015.
This project has been designated a Multi-Value Project by the Midcontinent Independent System Operator because it will enable the delivery of energy in support of reliability, economic and public policy benefits. The $580 million estimated project cost will be shared among all electric users in MISO’s footprint, which includes 15 Midwestern states and the Canadian province of Manitoba.
“We are pleased that the PSC has recognized the need for and benefits of this project.” said Xcel Energy Manager, Regional Transmission Initiatives Kyle Neidermire. “This project will help ensure electric reliability and provide access to lower-cost power and renewable energy for all electric users in the region.”
ATC and Xcel Energy will begin reaching out to impacted property owners along the selected route this year. Project construction is expected to begin in 2016 to meet an in-service date of 2018.
Note to editors:
A map of the proposed route options and additional project information are available at http://www.badgercoulee.com/.
ATC and Xcel Energy’s application and documents associated with the regulatory review process are available at http://www.psc.wi.gov/ under Docket No. 5-CE-142.
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 $3.5 billion to improve the adequacy and reliability of its infrastructure. ATC now has $3.8 billion in assets, including more than 9,530 miles of transmission lines and 530 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.
About Xcel Energy
Xcel Energy is a major U.S. electricity and natural gas company, with retail operations in eight Western and Midwestern states, including Wisconsin. Xcel Energy provides a comprehensive portfolio of energy-related products and services to 3.4 million electricity customers and 1.9 million natural gas customers through its regulated operating companies. Company headquarters are located in Minneapolis, and Wisconsin-Michigan operating company headquarters are located in Eau Claire, Wis. For more information about Xcel Energy visit www.xcelenergy.com.
Features best-in-class operations, community involvement, environmental stewardship
PEWAUKEE, Wis. – Innovation and excellence are the themes highlighted in American Transmission Co.’s 2014 annual report, available at the company’s website, www.atcllc.com, today.
The transmission-only electric utility earned a “best in class” performance rating for 100- to 161-kilovolt circuits in a longitudinal industry study and ranked in the top 10 percent for 345- to 500-kV circuits. Company investments in its construction program included an innovative project near St. Ignace, Mich., to better manage the flow of electricity between Upper and Lower Michigan. The flow-control device, one of only three such facilities in the country, began providing geographically widespread reliability benefits soon after it began commercial operation.
Also featured in the report are a number of environmental stewardship activities that “go above and beyond the lines,” including a study of bee habitat and behavior in transmission line corridors, projects to curb the spread of invasive species and the company’s Avian Protection Program.
Employees are at the heart of the company’s community relations; more than 100 employees participated in United Way Days of Caring activities around the state. ATC connects with communities in other ways, including sponsorships benefiting Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Junior Achievement, the Urban League and the YMCA. The company contributed $600,000 to more than 500 charitable and community programs in the area it serves.
Project enhances safety, reliability
PEWAUKEE, Wis. – American Transmission Co. today energized the Paris-Albers Rebuild Project in Kenosha County. The 138,000-volt, 12.5-mile line, which runs from the Paris Substation in Paris to the Albers Substation in Kenosha, will enhance electric reliability for southeastern Wisconsin.
Seventy-seven aging, wood transmission poles were replaced with new wood and steel structures and the old wires were replaced with new wires. No new right-of-way was needed for the project, and the new poles were placed within a few feet of the existing poles.
“This project will help ensure safe and reliable transmission operations in the future and adequate clearances between the wires and the ground,” said Mary Carpenter, senior local relations representative for ATC.
ATC received approval for the project from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin in spring 2014, and construction began in fall 2014. The project was completed on time and is projected to come in under the PSC-approved budget of $11.5 million.
A map of the project and additional information can be found at atc-projects.com.
American Transmission Co. to build new substation, short power lines for local reliability
DE PERE, Wis. – The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin has approved plans for $14 million in electrical transmission improvements in the area of Brillion Iron Works to support the local distribution system owned and operated by Wisconsin Public Service Corp.
The project will involve building a new substation on BIW property, a new 0.3-mile 69,000 volt line to connect the foundry to the new substation, along with an extension of a double-circuit 138,000/69,000 volt line to the new substation. Additional work also will be required at the Glenview Substation in Brillion.
The ATC project is part of an asset renewal process being undertaken by WPS to address load growth at BIW. Currently, BIW is served by a single electrical line; the new project will supply the foundry with additional lines, greatly improving reliability for this large regional employer.
Construction on the ATC facilities will begin in summer 2015 and the project is expected to be placed into service in August 2016.
Community Planting Program helps beautify communities
PEWAUKEE, Wis. – The Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council, advisory council to the Department of Natural Resources, has selected American Transmission Co. to receive its annual Innovations in Urban Forestry Award. The award was presented to ATC for its Grow Smart Community Planting Program, which over the past two years has awarded $130,000 to more than 90 communities for planting projects.
“Our Community Planting Program connects us with the communities that we serve,” said Mark Davis, ATC vice president of asset management. “It helps to beautify the communities within our service area and supports our obligation to ensure the reliability of the electric transmission system by encouraging plantings that are compatible with the safe operation of the electric transmission system.”
Now in its second year, ATC’s Community Planting Program provides eligible municipalities and counties in its service area with funding for planting projects on public property. To qualify, applicant communities must commit to complying with ATC’s maintenance standards for all current and future planting plans and urban forestry activities near high-voltage electric transmission lines.
The Community Planting Program is part of ATC’s Grow Smart initiative – a program that promotes planting a safe distance from transmission lines to help ensure public safety and electric system reliability. The Community Planting Program reinforces this initiative by encouraging the planting of tall-growing trees and other vegetation outside transmission line rights-of-way.
About the Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council
The Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council is an appointed group of urban forestry experts who advise the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on the best ways to preserve, protect, expand and improve Wisconsin’s urban and community forest resources. More information about the council can be found here.