Energizing Your Future

ATC, contractors restore power after summer storms

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.