American Transmission Co.

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Blog | American Transmission Co. - Part 3

Melinda Myers offers gardening tips at Milwaukee Realtors Home & Garden Show

Looking for some home and garden improvement tips and inspiration? Check out the Realtors Home & Garden Show at the Wisconsin Expo Center in West Allis, which runs March 25 to April 3, 2022 (closed Monday and Tuesday).

While you’re there, don’t miss the ATC-sponsored presentations by Melinda Myers:

Saturday, March 26

12 p.m.                Managing pests in the garden with pollinators in mind
4 p.m.                  Shade gardening beyond Hostas

 Saturday, March 27

12 p.m.                Managing pests in the garden with pollinators in mind
2 p.m.                  Shade gardening beyond Hostas

Since 2014, ATC has partnered with Melinda Myers to help landowners learn about compatible vegetation near transmission lines. ATC’s Grow Smart program helps property owners and communities identify low-growing, beautiful, native vegetation that can be planted the smart way – a safe distance from transmission line rights-of-way.

In collaboration with Melinda Myers, we have developed two guides to identify low-growing vegetation that supports pollinator habitats and is safe to plant in our rights-of-way. These suggested plants have deep root systems that are both beautiful and help attract bees, butterflies and birds. View or print the Grow Smart Planting Guide or Grow Smart Pollinator Guide and bring it to your local garden center.

ATC brings home a Soup-er Bowl win!

Here’s the play–we set up online giving events to support Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin, Second Harvest of Southern Wisconsin and Feeding America West Michigan. 

American Transmission Co. employees were able to stir up some much-needed funds for food with our annual Soup-er Bowl event.

To make the event as tasty as possible, ATC committed to match employee donations to the Soup-er Bowl fundraiser.

It was a game of inches, and our employees really stepped up their game to win the company match. Together we raised $3,070, which will provide around 13,480 meals to our community members in need.

Way to go ATC. We appreciate our employees who contributed to this amazing team effort!

Managing vegetation above the tree line

At American Transmission Co., our job is to operate our transmission system safely and reliably, and we take that responsibility seriously. An important part of that involves managing the vegetation around our transmission facilities to prevent outages. With more than 10,000 miles of transmission lines, that’s no small task.

One unique approach we take is to get help from above – help from a helicopter, that is. We use a light utility helicopter equipped with a heavy-duty aerial saw to trim the vegetation near some of our lines. Rotary saw blades are suspended on a 90- to 100-foot vertical boom that is attached to the helicopter.

The helicopter/aerial saw combination is particularly effective in areas where difficult terrain and wetlands make it challenging for ground crews to access the transmission line corridor. This technique is also very efficient, as the helicopter crew is able to complete in just a few hours what would take a ground-based crew several days to accomplish.

Next week an air-saw equipped helicopter crew will begin side-trimming vegetation along lines in five Wisconsin counties—Crawford, Richland, Rock, Shawano and Waupaca County.

In the interest of safety, if you see a helicopter/aerial saw in the area, please stay at least 300 feet away from the work area and refrain from stopping, viewing and photographing the work from a roadway.

Want to know more? Check out our YouTube channel for video footage of similar aerial saw vegetation management work.

Badger Hollow Network Upgrades project in service, connecting solar capacity to the grid

In late December 2021, ATC completed construction of our Badger Hollow Network Upgrades project in Iowa County, Wis. This high-voltage electric interconnection project provides a pathway of power from the 300-megawatt Badger Hollow Solar Park to our region’s electric grid.  

The Badger Hollow Solar Park is a facility jointly owned by We Energies, Wisconsin Public Service and Madison Gas and Electric – with each utility owning 100 megawatts of the energy produced. The first 150MW of solar power was placed into service in December and the second 150MW is expected online by the end of 2022. 

To transport that much electric capacity onto the grid and also address thermal overloads from the prior configuration, we needed a new electric transmission line and other modifications in the region to bolster capacity on the system,” said Jon Meiers, ATC senior project manager. 

Components of the $15.6 million Badger Hollow Network Upgrades project included: 

  • Expanding the Highland Substation in the town of Eden, Wis. 
  • Constructing a new double-circuit 69,000-volt transmission line south from the Highland Substation to connect with line Y-138 in the town of Eden, Wis. 
  • Uprating the transmission line between Highland Substation and the Spring Green Substation by replacing or modifying select existing structures

A map of the project can be viewed here.

ATC awards $71,675 to 22 recipients for planting projects

American Transmission Co. has collectively awarded $71,675 to 22 recipients across its service area to plant trees and low-growing vegetation through its Community Planting and Pollinator Habitat programs. Now in its ninth year, ATC has given nearly 290 community awards for these projects totaling more than $560,000.

Vegetation funded through the Community Planting Program requires that communities plant trees outside of high-voltage transmission line rights-of-way. Low-growing, compatible vegetation funded through the Pollinator Habitat Program allows entities to cultivate species within the rights-of-way that benefit pollinator food and habitat. Both programs help maintain electric reliability of the transmission system by keeping tall-growing vegetation outside the rights-of-way.

Recipients of both programs commit to comply with ATC’s maintenance standards for all current and future planting plans, and urban forestry activities near high-voltage electric transmission lines.

Pollinator Habitat Program Recipients

“Part of the reason for the recent decline in pollinator populations is due to loss of habitat,” said ATC Environmental Project Manager Johanna Sievewright. “The Pollinator Habitat Program promotes vegetation that is both compatible with our vegetation management practices and it provides habitat for pollinators, which use the utility corridor as a flight path.”

The following entities received grants ranging from $2,500 to $5,000 to support pollinator habitat projects:

Community Planting Program Recipients

“We recognize that trees and vegetation are among the features that make communities special places for residents and visitors,” said ATC Vegetation Management Manager Michelle Stokes. “While we can’t allow trees or tall‑growing vegetation in our rights‑of‑way, ATC’s Community Planting Program encourages and supports communities to plant trees and vegetation that will beautify communities in a way that doesn’t compromise the safety and reliability of the electric transmission system.”

The following entities received amounts ranging from $2,000 to $5,000 for planting projects on public property, outside the rights-of-way:

Both the Community Planting Program and Pollinator Planting Program are part of ATC’s Grow Smart® initiative, which advocates for and provides suggestions of low-growing, compatible vegetation that can be planted adjacent to and within transmission line rights-of-way. ATC accepts applications for both programs from June 1 through Sept. 30.