American Transmission Co.

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

Blog | American Transmission Co. - Part 7

The Monarchs are coming!

Saturday, May 2, was National Start Seeing Monarch’s day. While we likely won’t see any Monarchs in Wisconsin just yet, they are making their way back north to their summer breeding grounds.

While the ones who left in the fall were headed all the way back to Mexico – fluttering away at 5.5 mph to make the 1,500-mile trek – we will welcome their great-great-great-grandchildren later this spring. The first-generation leaving Mexico only migrate as far north as Texas and Oklahoma. Generally, it’s the fourth generation that makes it to Wisconsin sometime between May and June.

Monarchs Population in Decline

Unfortunately, the eastern North American monarch butterfly population has declined by 90% in the past 20 years. Only 1 in 10 monarchs remain. Habitat loss has been identified is one of the main reasons for the decline.

While adult monarch butterflies sip nectar from a variety of native flowering plants like asters, coneflowers and ironweed, monarch larvae only eat milkweed. Monarchs are foul tasting and poisonous due to the presence of cardenolides in their bodies, which the caterpillars ingest from milkweed.

Helping Increase Pollinator Habitat

At ATC, we’re doing our part to help Monarchs and other pollinators. We’re members of the Wisconsin Monarch Collaborative and part of the advisory committee for the Nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement for Monarch Butterfly on Energy and Transportation Lands.

We developed a first-of-its-kind Pollinator Power Model to map and identify suitable pollinator habitat (e.g., meadows, pastureland, etc.) and gaps in pollinator pathways along our over 9,890 miles of transmission lines. This enables us to strategically enhance pollinator habitat in our service territory. We also use a specially-developed pollinator seed mix as part of our new and rebuild construction efforts.

Our Pollinator Habitat Program promotes vegetation that is both compatible with our vegetation management practices and provides habitat for pollinators, which use the utility corridor as a flight path.  Since 2017, we’ve awarded approximately $45,000 to 10 entities to help them create pollinator habitats along our transmission corridor.

What You Can Do

We can all help butterflies by planting more flowers. In collaboration with nationally known gardening expert Melinda Myers, we developed two guides to identify vegetation that is similar to what we plant in our rights-of-way. These suggested native plants have deep root systems that will beautify your property and help attract bees, butterflies and birds. Visit atc-GrowSmart.com for resources and recommendations.

A Monarch butterfly resting on a Lupine in full bloom.

Celebrating Audubon Day with a free online educational program

Happy 235th birthday to the American ornithologist, naturalist, and painter John James Audubon, whose book The Birds of America is considered one of the finest ornithological works ever completed.

While Mr. Audubon had to rely on pen and paper for bird education, we have a fun online education activity for your family while you stay #SaferAtHome. Learn about osprey and great blue heron nesting habits with an Into the Outdoors program about avian conservation ATC helped with. The program includes resources for teachers, parents and students. Click here to check it out.

Nesting platforms are critical to our Avian Protection Program

Wisconsin has always been an important area for many migratory bird species. Unfortunately, some birds may find our transmission structures attractive places to perch and nest, but doing so can pose risks to the safety of the birds and compromise the reliability of the electric transmission system. We identify migratory paths and areas of heavy avian use so we can consider steps to better protect birds and minimize potential impacts on our transmission equipment.

Some of the ways we do this include:

  • Installing 200+ nesting platforms on or adjacent to our transmission structures or on poles nearby to enable eagles, herons and osprey to nest safely
  • Installing flight diverters to increase visibility of our wires and help prevent bird collisions
  • Replacing, reframing or retrofitting problematic transmission structures

Watch this video to learn more about our Avian Protection Program and how it supports our environmental commitment and the reliability of our electric transmission system.

Dancing Goat Distillery donates hand sanitizer to ATC

American Transmission Co. received a five-gallon donation of hand sanitizer from Dancing Goat Distillery in Cambridge, Wis., to keep our employees safe while we help keep the lights on during the COVID-19 pandemic. While most ATC employees are working safely from home, we maintain essential staff in our facilities to safely and reliably operate and maintain the transmission system.

On March 20, the distillery began producing sanitizer as a result of a waiver issued by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau under guidance of the Food and Drug Administration. A week prior, they had stopped production of their signature products, Limousin Rye Whiskey, Trials and Tribulations Vodka and Death’s Door Gin, to allow their employees to remain safer at home. The small family-owned company was equipped as an ethanol plant to easily transition to produce sanitizer with the addition of a couple of new ingredients.

“We are putting all of our resources into hand sanitizer production, distilling for the alcohol to make it literally around the clock,” said Dancing Goat’s Nicholas Maas, “and processing and packaging.” Maas is working every day, including weekends, along with Beau Bunce, director of marketing, monitoring compliance, and one additional employee per day working to process sanitizer and monitor the stills. They work within Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for social distancing, sanitizing and hygiene. “It is very challenging working with low bodies. All you want to do is high-five someone,” Maas said.

To date, Dancing Goat has produced 6,000 gallons of hand sanitizer, and expects to make more than 20,000 before the market stabilizes. They have donated more than one thousand gallons of the sanitizer to first responders and essential workers so far and sell it at cost to larger organizations such as hospitals to keep the donation program going.

ATC is grateful to Dancing Goat for their generous donation of sanitizer so we can focus on staying safe and making sure the electric transmission system keeps running.

First responder or health care organizations can request sanitizer from Dancing Goat Distillery. Visit their website for contact information. If you want to support the company, you can buy their products in stores across Wisconsin.

Staying safe while keeping the lights on

At American Transmission Co. we are powering through these trying times to help keep reliable electricity flowing to essential businesses, hospitals and homes. As an energy service provider in the Upper Midwest, we are committed to maintaining electric reliability – and we also are committed to keeping our employees, contractors and the public safe.  

Recent executive orders in Wisconsin and Michigan include operation and maintenance of electric utilities as essential and critical infrastructure. So, if you see our crews working in your area, please keep a safe distance and know that we are working to ensure the electric transmission system continues to deliver critical electricity to communities 

Our field crews follow the COVID-19 safe distancing practices ordered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state public health guidelines. They also have ceased face-to-face interaction with landowners, communicating instead through phone calls, email and the mail. We are working diligently to help keep the lights on, businesses running and communities strong. 

Thank you – and from all of us at ATC, we hope you remain safe and healthy.   

ATC donates $5,000 to United Way COVID-19 Urgent Needs Fund

American Transmission Co. supports United Way and their fight to strengthen the community we serve. The COVID-19 pandemic is putting additional strain on vital community resources. To help care for some of the most vulnerable in our community during this time, ATC donated $5,000 to United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County’s COVID-19 Urgent Needs Fund.

Here are some of the ways the United Way fund is helping organizations during this difficult time:

  • Providing personal protection equipment for local medical clinics to allow them to make home visits to medically vulnerable individuals.
  • Funding to allow shelters to stay open 24/7, rather than requiring daytime exits.
  • Laptops for housing support programs so they can continue their work remotely.
  • Meals and emergency food for shelters that can no longer safely accept outside volunteer support.
  • Diapers and no-touch thermometers for child care centers that remain open.
  • Cleaning supplies and sanitizer for clinics and shelters.

ATC CEO and President Mike Rowe said, “We want to do what we can to support our community members and help them get through this pandemic safely. Giving to United Way helps make sure that resources efficiently get where they are most needed. I’m grateful that we can provide some additional relief.”

If you’d like to make a donation to help meet the increased needs of United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County partners during this time, click here to give to United Way’s COVID19 Urgent Needs Fund.