Two massive storm systems and several tornadoes rolled through ATC’s service area on Aug. 28, creating eight transmission line outages and impacting nearly 40,000 retail customers across 12 Wisconsin counties.
ATC operators in Cottage Grove and Pewaukee were paying close watch to the weather radar prior to the arrival of both storms. As the first storm moved through south central Wisconsin, several 69,000-volt lines were fiercely impacted causing a succession of outages that trickled east.
From the operations centers, operators are usually able to assess exactly where in the line a fault is occurring. If those assessments through high-speed data communications can’t be made remotely, ATC relies on crews from our local distribution companies like Alliant Energy and We Energies to be the boots on the ground and provide observations from the field. In this weather event, many of those inspections were initially hindered by the sheer depth of the water from rainfall that was blocking roadways.
The most common reason that an outage occurs on transmission lines is due to lightning. When the electrical current strikes a line, it will typically trip and re-close. In some cases, it does not – which is when onsite inspection must occur. In the case of the storms on Aug. 28, other unique impacts occurred. The wind fractured many trees and branches, dropping them onto the lines and forcing outages. On a pair of lines east of Fond du Lac, a piece of metal blown off a nearby structure became embedded into the pole arms and conductors. More than 20 poles along a line north of Lomira snapped in the wind, taking the line down. And although some of the transmission lines impacted were 138-kV lines, most were 69-kV lines – which are typically carried on wooden poles.
Despite the number of outages and the 25 crew members dispatched, most of the transmission lines were restored after the water subsided. Many of ATC’s maintenance and engineering staff worked through the night on Aug. 28 to help crew members restore all but one transmission line – which is still undergoing repairs. Meanwhile, operators’ switching efforts restored power to support customer and system needs on ATC’s transmission grid.
As a precaution, ATC also flew aerial patrols over the storm-damaged areas, which revealed 16 different instances of leaning trees or poles. For safety and reliability reasons, the most severe cases were immediately addressed.
During extreme weather conditions or on a clear, calm day, our goal is always the same – to keep the lights on, businesses running and communities strong.
The newest employees of American Transmission Co. are much younger than average — maybe even younger than some of the cars in our parking lot. That’s because they’re still in high school!
We recently welcomed four students from Milwaukee’s Cristo Rey Jesuit High School to our Pewaukee office. The students are part of Cristo Rey’s unique work-study program, which enables students to earn a portion of their educational costs by working at area companies.
The students began working at ATC the week of Aug. 20 and will continue, alternating work days, until mid-June 2019. Each student works approximately five days a month helping out with entry-level tasks in several departments: information technology, human resources, facilities, real estate, environmental and system operations support.
Through the program, the students gain valuable experience in professional work environments, and ATC benefits from their help. At ATC, we care about the communities we serve, and we’re happy to help develop the area’s talent pool for the future.
Welcome Cristo Rey students!
The first day of school brings back memories of freshly waxed hallways, the smell of new books, the excitement of seeing friends and jitters about meeting new teachers. For some students, it can also mean coming to school unprepared because for their parents, paying rent or putting food on the table had to come before buying school supplies. For these students, the first day of school can be dreadful.
At American Transmission Co., we care about the families in our communities who need a little help sending their children back to school with the tools they need to be successful. Our employees participated in projects to help start the school year off right.
Our employees helped the Backpack Coalition of Milwaukee & Waukesha County set up for distribution day, when families would pick up about 1,500 new backpacks filled with supplies.
We answered phones during the WISN-TV Class Act School Drive to benefit The Salvation Army of Milwaukee County’s backpack initiative, raising $9,200 of their $50,000 goal during our shift.
In Green Bay, Wis., our employees volunteered at the Service League of Green Bay Back-to-School Store.
We collected school supplies to donate to Community Action Coalition for Southern Wisconsin and School Success in Kingsford, Mich.
We are proud of our employees’ contributions to help students in their communities start the school year with the supplies they need so they can focus on learning and building positive relationships.
While working on a wire pull along the North Appleton-Morgan transmission line project late Monday afternoon, M.J. Electric General Foreman Derrick Johnson noticed an injured sandhill crane in the right-of-way. The bird was unable to fly and not moving very well. Katie Unke, GEI environmental consultant on the project, contacted a local Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources conservation warden, who indicated it would probably be the following day before DNR personnel could get to the bird. Because the crew felt the bird might not make it through the night, Katie contacted Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary. The Sanctuary was willing to take the bird, but they said the facility would close at 6:30. Derrick and Construction Superintendent Dave Keller were able to safely capture the crane and place it in a box, drive 25 miles and deliver it to the sanctuary by 6 p.m.
American Transmission Co. would like to thank Derrick, Dave, Katie and our partner M.J. Electric for the extra care they took to rescue the bird.
On Thursday, July 19, American Transmission Co. interns joined 32 area organizations to participate in United Way’s Annual Intern Day of Action. The event provided an opportunity for ATC interns to support a local volunteer project that made an immediate, visible impact on our greater community.
ATC interns volunteered at The Women’s Center in Waukesha, which serves women, children and men who have experienced domestic violence, sexual assault and abuse. They assisted in the beautification of the shelter grounds through gardening and landscaping projects. The shelter provides a safe, welcoming space for clients at The Women’s Center.