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Blog | American Transmission Co. - Part 39

ATC’s McKee aims to educate policymakers, regulators with WIRES role

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Bob McKee

American Transmission Co.’s Manager of Regulatory Relations and Policy, Bob McKee, has accepted the position of president at WIRES, a non-profit group of electric transmission owners, investors, RTOs, consultants and other entities. The group’s function is to advocate for the development of transmission on behalf of its members.

It’s a position McKee calls “a great platform for ATC to address national policy issues that impact us.”

McKee has been the company’s main representative for WIRES for about two years. He collaborates on developing positions ATC takes at WIRES with WIRES members and Randy Satterfield, executive vice president business development, Tom Finco, vice president of external affairs and John Garvin, state government relations manager, and others regarding federal affairs throughout the transmission industry.

McKee served as the group’s vice president last year and was in line to become president-elect in 2016 before a change in leadership bumped him to president. He will serve as president through the end of 2016.

McKee stressed that while WIRES isn’t officially an “advocacy” group nor “lobbies,” it educates policy makers, regulators and other key external stakeholders about the benefit of transmission and weighs in on the policy debate in proceedings as FERC and other regulators and in Congress to support the development of transmission.

An example of that is when WIRES in 2015 raised the need for states when developing compliance plans for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan to consider transmission to be viewed as part of the solution and to ensure that reliability of the transmission system to preserved, McKee said. That issue is beginning to gain national traction.

“WIRES was one of a just a few voices for transmission in this conversation about the Clean Power Plan,” he said. “Advancing ATC’s position on a national front provides value to us.”

The group meets in person four times per year, but also conducts monthly meetings to discuss business items and policy initiatives. WIRES also has various committees that McKee and others on his team participate in that undertake projects such as one that is developing a new communications plan addressing what messages WIRES should be conveying about the benefits of transmission, who the group should be talking to and in which forums.

As president, McKee is responsible for guiding the organization, ensuring the group is meeting its objectives, overseeing meetings and otherwise serving members.

”Identifying and working with the other officers and the WIRES board to determine the efforts we want to undertake, what objectives we have and overall, what we want to accomplish this year is a very exciting part of being named president of this organization,” McKee said.

It’s career fair season

ATC Positive EnergyYou wouldn’t know it by looking outside, but spring is just around the corner. That means American Transmission Co. recruiters and employees are busy promoting our job openings and internships at career fairs across the country.

ATC currently has more than 20 full-time job openings in a variety of fields, and will have approximately 25 internship and co-op positions this summer. If you know a student or job seeker interested in a career at ATC, tell them to visit ATC staff at one of these events to learn about our company and career opportunities:

 

The holidays are a time for giving at ATC

Throughout the year, and especially during the holidays, American Transmission Co. employees enjoy giving back to the community.

To help nourish families in need during the holiday season, ATC employees in Cottage Grove, Madison and Pewaukee, Wis., raised more than $1,000 and collected more than 50 pounds of food for Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin and Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin.

Pewaukee employees held a U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots drive to benefit families in Waukesha, Wis. The drive was so successful that Salvation Army of Waukesha had to make two trips to transport all the toys. One reason this year’s drive was such a success is that the legal team decided to do a twist on a Secret Santa holiday gift exchange this year.

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An ATC legal team member donates a toy he received in a Secret Santa gift exchange.

Instead of buying a gift for each person on the legal team to keep, a toy gift was bought to donate to Toys for Tots in honor of each team member. The donated toy reflected something about the person to whom it was given. For example, Alejandro B., staff counsel, is from Florida and is a Miami Dolphins fan. His secret Santa bought a big stuffed dolphin toy to donate.

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De Pere employees “adopted” a family through the Salvation Army for holiday giving.

For the 10th straight year, the De Pere, Wis., office provided Christmas gifts to a local family “adopted” through the Salvation Army of Brown County. On the wish list for this year’s family of four with a baby on the way were such items as Princess and My Little Pony dolls and movies, a Hungry Hungry Hippo, movie and bowling passes, as well as such practical items as clothing, diapers, grocery cards, crockpot and a Wisconsin Public Service gift certificate.

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The Dane County Humane society received many needed supplies from employees who donated items they found on the “giving tree” in the Madison office.

In Madison, employees chose gift ideas for needed items hung on a “giving tree” to purchase supplies for the Dane County Humane Society. Keeping with the spirit of this fall’s unseasonably warm weather, the tree was decorated in a tropical theme this year.

Our real estate team held its third annual White Elephant Auction. Silly gifts such as a Chewbacca can cooler (think fur with a metal sash) and a howling flying monkey stuffed animal (catapults through the air and howls as it hits the ground) were a couple of the hilarious items up for auction. The group raised about $1,200 for the Alzheimer’s Association of Southeastern Wisconsin.

ATC’s Kingsford, Mich., office purchased gift cards for the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center to help local veterans who are homeless or suffer from severe mental health issues.

With holiday spirit and a little bit of fun, ATC helps make the holidays a little brighter for the community.

ATC employee helps spearhead Dane County trail upgrade

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A multi-use trail at McCarthy Park in Cottage Grove, Wis., will be a more attractive option for outdoor enthusiasts this winter, thanks in part to efforts by American Transmission Co. employee Paul Roltgen.

Roltgen, a senior estimator at ATC, sits on the Friends of McCarthy Park board and is responsible for fundraising efforts to improve the 220-acre park.

An avid cross-country skier who participates in the American Birkebeiner every year, Roltgen started asking two years ago for donations to fund improvements that would benefit everyone who uses the park.

The Friends board decided that a poorly-draining road that cut off a main trail artery needed to be moved.

After Roltgen received a $2,500 donation from ATC, which he said was used for gravel materials, Roltgen asked McFarland-based Henkels & McCoy for help with the project.DSC_0153

The engineering and utility infrastructure company donated four days of labor to move the road and finish the trail, Roltgen said. Work began this month after securing permits from the Dane County Parks Division to move the road.

“The park is a really enjoyable place to be in the winter,” said Roltgen. “But this is also something we hope can be used year-round.”

Al Bayer, senior project manager at Henkels & McCoy, credited Roltgen with having a vision for the project.

“This is a good corporate citizenship partnership,” said Bayer. Roltgen said those living on the east side of the county will benefit from the improved multi-use trail.

“There are a lot more options like this for folks who live west of Madison, but not many for those around here,” said Roltgen.

ATC’s environmental commitment aims to benefit pollinators

Seeding along the Oak Leaf Trail bike path in Wauwatosa, Wis. earlier this month will provide native ground cover for urban wildlife and eventually attract diminishing populations of pollinators.

WMCERP seeding

ATC’s environmental services contractor, Cardno, seeded grass and other forbs for the second time in early November, immediately adjacent to the bike path where part of the Western Milwaukee County Electric Reliability Project was completed in May 2015. The area near North 115th St. and West Underwood Parkway was initially seeded in July.

Nearly all of the grasses and forbs seeded along the path also are included in ATC’s Grow Smart planting guide. Grow Smart is a program that helps landowners understand the importance of planting low-growing vegetation near transmission lines. Common milkweed is one of the forbs promoted in Grow Smart and was one of the seeds included in the trail’s seed mix. ATC distributed thousands of milkweed seed packets at various events this year, helping educate the public about the plight of the monarch butterfly – which is highly dependent on milkweed as a food source.

The $23 million electric system reinforcement project that was rebuilt along portions of the bike path included the construction of a new We Energies substation adjacent to the existing Milwaukee County substation at 93rd Street and Watertown Plank Road, and construction of two separate 138,000-volt transmission lines to connect the substation to the transmission system that serves area.

For more information on the WMCERP project, click here.

To learn more about ATC’s Grow Smart program, click here.