American Transmission Co.

Helping to keep the lights on, businesses running and communities strong. ®

Blog

ATC kicks off United We Care campaign

This week, ATC celebrates the start of its annual United Way campaign. Our theme, United We Care, is a reminder that we make a greater impact together to support the work that United Way does to fight for the health, education and financial stability of every person in our local community.

“United Way reaches every corner of our community, and our campaign participation is one of the most important ways that we care for the people in our service area,” said Bill Marsan, executive vice president and general counsel, and ATC’s executive campaign sponsor. “Next to safe, reliable electric transmission, serving the community well is our priority.”

Our campaign takes on an even greater significance this year with Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Mike Rowe honored to be a co-chair of the Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County United Way campaign. “I strongly advocate for United Way because not only do they support great programs that make the community stronger,” said Rowe, “they also help give people the tools and skills they need to improve their own lives.”

Events were held across the company to get the campaign off to a great start. In Pewaukee, we welcomed special guests from United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County, The Women’s Center and The Salvation Army, and made 100 sandwiches to donate to the organizations. In De Pere, a guest and client from and ASPIRO shared success stories about how the organization provides services to people with disabilities and empowers children with special needs. United Way of Dickinson County visited our office in Kingsford, Mich., to share plans for a new program that will assist police with kits for children in trauma. Our offices in the United Way of Dane County neighborhood had a football toss competition at their events, along with speakers from United Way of Dane County and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County, and the winner was United Way!

We look forward to a successful United We Care campaign!

ATC, contractor crews work to restore power for thousands following severe storms

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.

Cristo Rey Students Join ATC

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!

ATC employees pose for a selfie with the Cristo Rey students at the Draft Day event on Aug. 17.

ATC helps kids get back to school

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.

M.J. Electric crew assists injured bird

A care giver at Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary carefully lifted the wounded sandhill crane from the box it arrived in.

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.