American Transmission Co.

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Blog | American Transmission Co. - Part 48

ATC employees power through American Birkebeiner race

Each year, more than 13,000 skiers descend upon Cable, Wis., to participate in the storied American Birkebeiner, or Birkie. The 50-kilometer cross-country ski event began in 1973, but the tradition goes back to Norway and the 1200s. Birkebeiners were charged with carrying the young  son of King Sverresson and Inga of Vartieg to safety. They donned birch bark leggings and traversed the mountains and forests of the Osterdalen valley in Norway during the Norwegian Civil War. The child transported to safety by the Birkebeiners was King Haakon Haakonsson IV. Thousands of skiers commemorate this event across the globe each year. Norwegian skiers often will carry a pack that symbolizes the weight of an 18-month-old child. 

Hagman at the end of the race.
Three American Transmission Co. employees joined in the tradition this year and powered through bitter cold to finish the race.
Transmission Planning Engineer Chris Hagman had a warm-up race in sub-zero temperatures weeks prior in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, so when the mercury rose above freezing, it was a pleasant surprise for this tough racer.
“Of my seven Birkies, this was definitely the hardest and the slowest,” Hagman said. His girlfriend, Marianne, helped make the race a little more entertaining by organizing a group to provide comic relief and encouragement at a very steep hill just before the end of the race.
Construction Coordinator Paul Roltgen also agreed about the difficulty this year, calling his sixth Birkie the hardest one to date.
“Thursday night prior to the event, the Hayward area had 16-plus inches of snow. The new snow combined with the cold and the strong west wind certainly made it a challenge,” Roltgen said. “To put it into context, I finished 45 minutes slower than my fastest time. I still loved being in the winter wonderland surrounded by woods and upbeat competitors, many who keep coming back year after year.”
And what might a Professional Engineer who works at an electric utility call out as one of the highlights of the race?
“At a certain point after about 9 kilometers, racers travel below a 138-kilovolt circuit. There are hundreds of skate skiers on one side of the right-of-way going up and down the rolling hills right below the lines, while the classic skiers are on the other side doing the same,” said Project Manager Andy Ehlert.
Another highlight for Ehlert is an elaborate drumming display that takes place at the top of a hill.
“At one point at the top of a hill climb we pass by about 50 people from the local Lac Courte Oreilles tribe as they bang loudly on huge drums,” said Ehlert. “The skiers march up the steep hill in rhythm and it is awesome! It gives me goose bumps each time I pass by and really brings home the spirit of the race in that region of Wisconsin.”  

Roltgen warms up by getting into Viking garb and participating in a ‘Giant Ski Race,’ where teams strap themselves onto a set of giant skis and race down main street in Hayward, Wis.

Calling all interns!

Intern Elliot Nelson shows his team spirit with ATC
substation engineer and former intern Justin Nettesheim
during ATC’s 2014 Office Olympics at ATC’s
Madison office, Friday, Feb. 7.

Although it’s hard to imagine after the recent polar vortex, summer is just around the corner. For college students everywhere (and their parents) the impending change in season brings to mind one particular question: What am I going to do over summer break? 
How about a paid internship at American Transmission Co.? ATC has 33 internship positions to fill for summer 2014 in our Madison, Cottage Grove, Pewaukee and De Pere, Wis., offices. Many of the internships are for civil or electrical engineering students and others are in human resources, information technology and corporate security. 
ATC interns don’t make coffee. They do anything that full-time employees do. (So technically yes, that includes making coffee if they emptied the pot.) But in all seriousness, ATC interns do real work, and work right alongside professionals in their field. Interns learn invaluable career skills, processes technologies and programs—skills that give them a leg up both in their college coursework and when it’s time to find a job after graduation. 
Interested? We’re accepting applications now, so check out our open internship positions and apply today!

The basics

  • Length: May – August, with a possibility to extend into the fall or winter
  • Hours: 40 hours per week during the summer, 15-20 hours per week during the school year
  • College credit: Some schools give credit for internships
  • When to apply: NOW!

ATC Tree Planting Program grant helps add fruit trees to DeForest

We’re happy to read that the Village of DeForest, Wis., plans to help add to Dane County’s burgeoning edible landscape with apple and pear trees at Liberty Land Park.

In honor of the home of the Norskies, here are a few Nordic-inspired apple and pear desserts:

Stetke epler (fried apples)

Pear coffee cake
The Capital Times also reports that remaining grant money will be used to offer shade for the Fidos and Spots of the world at a local dog park.

Read more about our Tree Planting Program and how it’s helping local communities become more beautiful and sustainable.

An Idol connection: ATC employees’ son takes a step toward the big time

Joe Janowicz headshot

There’s a bit of a buzz going around American Transmission Co.’s De Pere, Wis., office that has nothing to do with the electric grid. ATC employees, Joe and Maria Janowicz, are the proud parents of talented singer/actor Jack Janowicz, who may just make it to the big stage at Hollywood Week on American Idol.

“It’s been a wild ride,” said Joe. “We were driving in the car one day when Jack said, ‘hey, I got an email from Idol. I made the cut!’” The family hadn’t known that Jack sent a video audition, let alone that it was good enough to avoid the cattle call and proceed to audition directly in front of the show’s executive producers in Omaha, Neb. After getting through two rounds with the producers, it was on to the celebrity judges.

Joe says Jack has displayed an unexpected talent for the arts all his life.

“We have videos of him dancing in-beat to music on the radio while wearing his diaper. He’s been singing as long as he could talk,” said Joe. “I’m not sure where he got it from, but we do know he is our kid. My dad likes to joke he had talent as a kid.”

Maria says it’s an experience he’ll never forget, topped off with high praise from star and Idol judge Jennifer Lopez. “When JLo met Jack, she told him some people don’t look the way they sound, but that Jack sounds exactly the way he looks. She said, ‘You have the whole package and I like it,’ while making a little box with her fingers. I told Jack if he ever has a bad day, JLo’s feedback should bring a smile to his face!”

While he can’t reveal his status on the show, fans online are buzzing with rave reviews of Jack’s singing and charisma, showcased on his YouTube channel. The Omaha auditions are scheduled to air Thursday, Jan. 30, from 7 to 8 p.m. We’ll be rooting for a powerful performance from Jack.

Michigan PSC approves Holmes-Old Mead Road project

The Michigan Public Service Commission today granted a certificate of public convenience and necessity for a 138-kilovolt transmission line from the Holmes Substation in Menominee County to the Old Mead Substation in Delta County. This is ATC’s first CPCN application and approval in Michigan.

In issuing its order, the MPSC selected ATC’s proposed route. The 58-mile line will make maximum use of co-location opportunities, placing the new facilities on existing transmission line or other rights-of-way. The western half will share a corridor with an existing transmission line; the eastern half will share an abandoned railroad corridor currently owned by the Michigan Department of Transportation and managed by the Department of Natural Resources. In exchange for sharing the corridor, ATC proposes to develop a 10-foot-wide multi-purpose recreational trail.

“The new transmission line is intended to improve electric reliability significantly in the Upper Peninsula,” said MPSC Chairman John D. Quackenbush. “The settlement agreement approved today enabled the MPSC to decide this case nine months in advance of the one-year statutory deadline, enhancing ATC’s ability to bring needed improvements to the Upper Peninsula.”