American Transmission Co.

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Blog | American Transmission Co. - Part 3

Transformer installed for Darien and Paris Solar Network Upgrade Project

Construction of the Darien and Paris Solar Network Upgrade Project is advancing in Kenosha County. The project will support the proposed Darien Solar Energy Center in Rock and Walworth counties and the Paris Solar-Battery Park in Kenosha County.

Recently, the new 345,000-volt/138,000-volt transformer was delivered and installed. Using the transformer to connect two adjacent transmission lines of different voltages will allow for increased power transfers without the need to build additional transmission lines.

The transformer traveled over 825 miles from the rail yard at the Hyundai factory in Montgomery, Ala., to the Canadian Pacific rail yard in Sturtevant, Wis. An eight-person Van Dyke Bros Inc. crew from Chandler, Minn., spent most of June 8 carefully transferring the transformer to a specially equipped semitruck trailer.

After a Wisconsin Department of Transportation safety inspection on June 9, the transformer traveled the seven miles from the rail yard to the Paris Substation near Union Grove, Wis. The accompanying convoy included several Wisconsin State Troopers and their vehicles, Van Dyke’s remaining six semi-trailers and two bucket trucks that lifted distribution and cable lines crossing the roads out of the way to allow the transformer to pass underneath.

On June 10, the Van Dyke crew used large hydraulic lifts to remove the 200-ton transformer from the trailer so it could slide onto the concrete platform that is its permanent home. Their eight-person crew moves 30-40 transformers annually throughout the United States.

“There is no room for error when placing a transformer,” said ATC Senior Construction Manager Jim Huckstorf. “It needs to be placed as close to the middle of the concrete platform as possible. It’s a long, slow and careful process.”

To slide the transformer onto the concrete pad, the crew laid down special steel rails, using wood cribbing and steel plates to continually adjust the steel rail height and support the transformer as it moves. The crew continually measured and used a level throughout the process.

Once the steel rails were in place, a power pack generator slowly pushed the transformer across the steel rails into position. When the transformer was in the right position, four hydraulic lifts were set under each of the transformer’s corners and lifted the transformer off the concrete pad about a foot. The crew then removed the steel rails and wood cribbing before lowering the transformer into place. The hydraulic lifts also helped the crew make any minor adjustments to the transformer’s position on the concrete pad.

After the transformer was put in place, Hyundai’s assembly crew began installing the 24 radiators, reservoir tank and pipes. Before it can be operational, the transformer will be filled with 19,400 gallons (about the volume of a one car garage) of dielectric oil and tested. Once assembled and filled, the transformer will stand nearly 28 feet tall and weigh over 300 tons (about what a Boeing 747 weighs).

The control house is scheduled to be delivered mid-July and the project is expected to be in service in December. The 310MW Paris Solar-Battery Park is expected to be complete by the end of 2023. We Energies, Wisconsin Public Service and Madison Gas and Electric have also filed an application with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin to acquire the 325MW Darien Solar Energy Center. WEC Energy Group utilities We Energies and Wisconsin Public Service would own 90 percent of the two renewable energy projects. Madison Gas and Electric would own the other 10 percent.

ATC, Milwaukee Bucks team up to donate record 579 trees through Trees for Threes program

American Transmission Co. donated 579 trees – equal to the number of three-point shots the Milwaukee Bucks made at Fiserv Forum during the 2021-22 regular season – to 180 Wisconsin schools that registered for the 2021-22 Trees for Threes program. The program calls for ATC to donate one tree for every three-pointer the Bucks make at home during the regular season.

To celebrate the culmination of the sixth year of the Trees for Threes program, ATC and the Bucks held a tree planting ceremony at Milwaukee Academy of Science on May 31. Second-grade students from Milwaukee Academy of Science planted three trees the school received from the program. Bucks Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility Arvind Gopalratnam, ATC Vice President of External Affairs and Communications Greg Levesque, and Milwaukee Academy of Science Chief Executive Officer Anthony McHenry also made remarks.

“Congratulations to the Bucks on a record-breaking season of three-pointers,” said Levesque. “Our partnership with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Trees for Threes program continues to be a win for local schools and the environment. ATC supports initiatives that have a positive impact on the environment, education and health and well-being to help strengthen the communities in our service area. Planting trees at schools aligns well with these initiatives and can be a valuable lesson for students.”

The Bucks’ 579 threes made at Fiserv Forum this season marked a new franchise record for three-pointers made in a season at home. Milwaukee’s 579 threes made at home were also the most by any team in the Eastern Conference. The 579 trees were donated to a total of 180 schools in 42 counties across Wisconsin. In six seasons of the Trees for Threes initiative, the Bucks and ATC have teamed up to donate more than 2,900 trees to help make Wisconsin greener.

ATC accepting applications for community planting and pollinator habitat programs

Now through Sept. 30, 2022, American Transmission Co. is accepting applications for planting projects in communities in our service area through the annual Community Planting and Pollinator Habitat grant programs. Since 2013, ATC has awarded nearly 290 grants for these projects totaling more than $560,000.

“These programs enable us to encourage and support 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,” said Michelle Stokes, manager of vegetation management and transmission line maintenance at ATC. “While we can’t allow trees or tall-growing vegetation in our rights-of-way, we understand that they are an important part of the landscape.”

The Community Planting Program provides financial support to eligible cities, villages, towns, counties, and tribes in ATC’s service area for planting projects on public property. Program funds can be used to plant trees and other tall-growing vegetation outside the transmission line rights-of-way.

The Pollinator Habitat Program provides funding for site preparation; purchasing seed, plugs or plants; labor and installation; or other activities to establish quality pollinator habitat. Unlike the Community Planting Program, the Pollinator Habitat Program promotes planting low-growing vegetation within a transmission line right-of-way.

“Loss of habitat is one of the main reasons for the recent decline in pollinator populations,” said Johanna Sievewright, environmental project manager at ATC. “The Pollinator Habitat Program promotes vegetation that is both compatible with our vegetation management practices and it provides habitat for bees, birds, butterflies and pollinators who use the utility corridor as a flight path.”

To qualify for either program, applicants 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. Cities, villages, towns, counties, and tribes within ATC’s service area are eligible to apply for funding through the Community Planting Program. The Pollinator Habitat Program also is open to cities, villages, towns, counties and tribes within ATC’s service area, as well as to entities that allow public access to ATC rights-of-way (e.g., nature preserves, non-profit organizations, or public land managers).

Applications for the Community Planting Program and Pollinator Habitat Program will be accepted through Sept. 30, and award recipients will be selected and notified by the end of the calendar year. Awards for both programs range from $100 to $5,000. Additional information and online program applications can be found at atc-GrowSmart.com.

ATC employees make Earth Days of Caring successful

Several ATC employees jumped at the opportunity to join their co-workers to do something good for the community and the environment in celebration of Earth Day.

At a new property acquired by Riveredge Nature Center in Saukville, Wis., employees dismantled a time-worn footbridge and replaced it with a sturdy new one. They also helped remove invasive species in a wooded area and dug footings for another new bridge crossing over a stream.

After a two-year hiatus, employees returned to Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary in Green Bay, Wis., to help with long overdue grounds cleanup and brush removal.

Our employees also brought their positive energy to our own backyard and worked on outdoor cleanup of a walking path on the office grounds.

We are thankful to everyone who participated in Earth Days of Caring and those who take action for environmental sustainability on Earth Day and every day.

Communities across ATC’s service area are ‘digging’ Arbor Day

American Transmission Co., a Tree Line USA® utility, provided Arbor Day celebration funding support to 21 communities in our service area as part of ATC’s annual support of Arbor Day Tree City USA.

“Trees make communities special places for residents and visitors,” said ATC Vegetation Management Manager Michelle Stokes. “We encourage communities and landowners to plant trees and vegetation that will provide beauty in a way that doesn’t compromise the safety and reliability of the electric transmission system – outside of transmission rights-of-way.” Information on ATC’s vegetation management program can be found at atcllc.com.

Arbor Day support

The communities receiving the funds include 18 Wisconsin communities—Antigo, Brown Deer, Fitchburg, Franklin, Green Bay, Hobart, Howard, Iola, Janesville, Lake Geneva, Manitowoc, Menasha, Oak Creek, Portage, Saukville, Shawano, Stoughton and Whiting—and three communities in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan—Escanaba, Iron Mountain and Marquette.

Brown Deer’s Arbor Day celebration will be held on May 9, when the city plants a flowering cherry tree in memory of a retired police officer who lost her battle with breast cancer on May 9, 2021.

Since 2009, ATC has awarded over $100,000 in Arbor Day celebration funding support to more than 330 communities. The funds are used for the communities’ public Arbor Day celebrations, which is one of the four core standards of sound urban forestry management a community must meet to achieve Tree City USA status— maintaining a tree board or department, having a community tree ordinance, spending at least $2 per capita on urban forestry and celebrating Arbor Day.

Community Planting Program

The village of Kimberly, Wis., will plant roughly 15 linden and elm trees in Sunset Park on Arbor Day with help from third grade students at Westside Elementary School. The trees were purchased with funding the village received from ATC’s Community Planting Program and will help replace ash trees lost to emerald ash borer.

Twenty-one other communities received funding in 2022 for a total of $71,675 through ATC’s  Community Planting and Pollinator Habitat Programs. Since 2013, ATC has given nearly 290 community awards for these projects totaling more than $560,000. To qualify for a Community Planting Program grant, communities must apply and agree to plant the trees and other vegetation outside of high-voltage transmission line rights-of-way and commit to complying with ATC’s vegetation maintenance standards for all current and future planting plans.

About Arbor Day

​​​​​​​Arbor Day is a worldwide tree-planting holiday that has been celebrated since 1872. Though the holiday is observed on different dates according to planting conditions and local custom, the official Arbor Day in Michigan and Wisconsin is the last Friday in April.

The Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA program has been greening up cities and towns across America since 1976. It is a nationwide movement that provides the framework necessary for communities to manage and expand their public trees. More than 3,400 communities have made the commitment to becoming a Tree City USA.

The Arbor Day Foundation’s TreeLine USA® program recognizes best practices in public and private utility arboriculture, demonstrating how trees and utilities can co-exist for the benefit of communities and citizens.

Share your #ArborDay

In honor of the 150th anniversary of Arbor Day, the Arbor Day Foundation will plant one tree for EACH Instagram, Twitter or Facebook post with the hashtag #ArborDay, up to 75,000 trees. Kimberly-Clark is matching the effort, bringing the total up to 150,000 trees.