Delivering renewable energy
In response to growing concerns about climate change, many states are requiring electric utilities to produce or purchase a greater portion of their electricity from renewable resources. As a result, proposals and construction of renewable electricity generators are increasing and, in turn, the transmission grid that carries this energy from remote locations to consumers needs to be expanded.
Renewable energy is often located in remote areas
Generators that use renewable energy to produce electricity often must be sited in remote locations with site-specific resources, far away from population centers that ultimately consume the energy. These facilities are located where wind, solar, biomass or hydro resources are abundant and sufficient space exists for harnessing them. Hydro and wind sources can't be moved closer to population centers. Optimal wind areas cover only 6 percent of the land mass in the lower 48 states, and the costs to produce electricity using solar energy are lowest in remote areas where demand for electricity is minimal. Once a location for these generating facilities is identified, a plan for connecting to the long-distance transmission grid is necessary.
ATC links electric generation to the transmission grid
The poles and wires that carry electricity at high voltages over long distances from power plants to local distribution facilities are owned and operated by ATC (within its service area). When a new generation facility is proposed (whether it's a traditional coal-fueled plant or a wind farm), we work closely with developers to ensure that transmission interconnections and improvements are made to accommodate the electricity that is produced.
Electricity is generated at various kinds of power plants, wind and solar farms by utilities and independent power producers.
The vital link between power production and power usage, transmission lines carry electricity at high voltages over long distances from power plants to communities. This is what ATC does.
Electricity from transmission lines is reduced to lower voltages at substation. Distribution companies then bring the power to your workplace and home.
Power lines bring renewable energy into communities
Demand for renewable power is growing. Recent policy changes have required utilities to produce or purchase a greater portion of their electricity from renewable energy sources. Some of these requirements represent dramatic increases over prior standards and will, by necessity, require expanded transmission line capacity across the Midwest region.
Midwestern states’ renewable electricity requirements
|Wisconsin||10% by 2015|
|Illinois||25% by 2025|
|Minnesota||25% by 2025|
|Missouri||15% by 2021|
Renewable mandates are significant
Wind power in particular has experienced phenomenal growth, increasing from 2,200 megawatts in 1999 to more than 35,000 megawatts in 2009. Nonetheless, wind still represents less than 1 percent of all U.S. power capacity, and use of renewable energy from all sources hovers around 4 percent in the Midwest. Biomass capacity nationally is smaller at 7,000 megawatts. Regionally and nationally, coal remains the most common electricity-generating fuel; in 2010, 45 percent of the nation’s electricity supply was generated by coal.
Wind energy projects in Wisconsin
Despite Wisconsin’s lower wind speeds, many developers are now proposing and constructing new wind projects. Today’s advances in technology are able to more efficiently harness Wisconsin’s winds compared to the past. ATC has put more than 400 megawatts of wind on the wires, and is in the process of connecting an additional 800 megawatts of wind generating capacity in Brown, Columbia, Lafayette, Calumet and Fond du Lac counties – enough to power approximately 220,000 homes. These projects are expected to be on line between 2011 to 2013, depending on the project. Additionally, more than 1,000 megawatts of wind projects are under study in the ATC service territory.
ATC supports development of all types of generation.