American Transmission Co. released 50 line construction contractors to help restore electricity after Hurricane Irma. Contractors from M.J. Electric and Henkels & McCoy are assisting Florida Power & Light Company.
Crews left the Midwest for Florida early Sept. 7. They have been working in the Fort Lauderdale, Fla. area since.
ATC also offered resources to help ahead of Hurricane Harvey, but those resources were not needed. Instead, contractors geographically closer to Texas were called to action.
ATC commends the efforts of all working to ensure safety and restore power after both hurricanes.
It’s rare to find Senior System Control Operator Victor Cardoso without a glass jar full of homemade salsa. He makes batches in bulk at his home in Illinois. Then, he brings the jars with him wherever he goes – to American Transmission Co. in Pewaukee, Wis., where he helps maintain and operate the electric transmission grid; to his favorite Cheers-style restaurant and bar near his home; to visit his children and grandchildren.
He calls himself Salsa Claus. The labels glued to the lids of his glass jars feature the moniker, along with a photo of Cardoso with a large sombrero and a superimposed white beard. Instead of garland on his Santa Claus t-shirt, it’s a jalapeño. The text on the bottom of the label reads, “Good or Bad even the naughty deserve to celebrate!”
His salsa, though, isn’t for sale. That’s because for Cardoso, it’s not just about the salsa. It’s about the conversation and spreading kindness.
“I give it away, and I just say, ‘Do something nice for somebody. I don’t care what you do, just do it.’”
Cardoso’s outlook is rooted in his past. His parents and four brothers and sisters emigrated to the U.S. from Mexico in 1959 when Cardoso was 11 years old. They had no money, and didn’t speak English. They made their home in East Moline, Ill., where Cardoso went to high school and excelled in math.
“I came to this country, and this country was really good to us. So this is my way of sharing.”
Years later, Cardoso found the utility industry a good fit for his personality and proclivity for numbers. He worked as a substation electrician for 20 years before becoming a system operator. He started with American Transmission Co. in 2001 when the company formed. As a system control operator, he works 12-hour shifts on a rotating schedule, splitting his time between work in Pewaukee, Wis., and his home in Illinois. He says it’s a schedule that works for him and allows him the flexibility to spend hours in the kitchen.
“I don’t like routines. Being a system operator allows me to not have a routine. Making my salsa is not a routine; I do it when I feel like it or when somebody wants it,” he said.
Cardoso’s salsa recipe has evolved over the past 40 years when a friend first gave him a recipe for fresh salsa. Today, he draws inspiration from friends and family, customizing the ingredients and heat level to whoever he’s making it for. There are three spice levels – “Naughty Hot,” “Original” and “Nice Mild” – but he says he will make the salsa any way upon request. He once stayed up all night to create a new salsa verde with green tomatoes for a friend who is allergic to red tomatoes. He doesn’t look up recipes, instead opting to try new flavor combinations on his own.
“It’s a hobby. It’s a way of meditating. So when I start experimenting with flavors, I’m in my kitchen for hours; I just get wrapped up in my own world, and I just start making it. It’s a form of relaxation for me. I’ve had people tell me it’s the best salsa they’ve ever had. What a compliment.”
Over the years, he has served on the boards of a number of charitable organizations, and his family was a foster family. He has donated his salsa to help with fundraisers, like one for the Youth Service Bureau of Rock Island County. He says his salsa is for everyone.
“I don’t care who they are. I’ve given my salsa to multimillionaires. I’ve given my salsa to people who don’t have a whole lot. If you like it, I’ll give it to you.”
Today, Cardoso uses his salsa as a way to start conversations. He says he just wants people to talk to each other and learn about each other. He says salsa is one way to make that happen.
“There’s a lot of ugly things going on in this world. There are issues that people are upset about. People are antagonizing each other. There’s bad feelings. I don’t want to have anything to do with it. I just want to do something that’s fun that’s not harmful, and it turned into this.”
From charity runs to trivia nights and volunteer events, American Transmission Co. team members are putting their positive energy to work for great causes this summer.
Scroll to the bottom of this page and click through the slideshow to see just some of the ways ATC employees volunteered their time and energy this summer.
ATC helps sponsor hundreds of community events throughout the year. ATC also cares about the organizations important to its employees – ATC’s Matching Gifts Programs supports employee donations to arts, environmental and educational organizations. It’s just one reason why ATC is consistently ranked as one of the nation’s best workplaces.
American Transmission Co. has been recognized with the Business Friend of the Environment – Environmental Stewardship award from Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce. The annual award recognizes companies that demonstrate environmental leadership and take a cooperative approach toward improving the environment.
ATC received the award for efforts to support pollinator habitats and improve bird safety around our transmission facilities. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp presented the award at this year’s WMC Policy Day on Tuesday at the Monona Terrace in Madison.
Avian Protection Program
ATC supports sustainable environmental policies and actions. During facility siting and design, ATC identifies areas of heavy avian use and evaluates measures to mitigate potential avian impacts. ATC also installs flight diverters and perch guards to prevent birds from becoming injured by transmission lines or structures.
ATC began tracking avian interactions with our transmission facilities nearly 10 years ago, and as part of our compliance plan, we report bird injuries and fatalities to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. But today, we go beyond simple reporting. Our environmental and geological information systems departments recently collaborated to develop a tool to track and map avian events and nests. The Avian Tracking Tool uses statistics to assign risk levels to line segments and structures on our system. We use this information to identify areas where incidents, including bird fatalities from collisions and electrocutions, occur. With this information, we can plan for appropriate protection measures when designing new projects, rebuilding existing lines or performing maintenance on our system. Overall, these efforts will help reduce the number of avian interactions with our transmission lines and facilities, and in turn help reduce avian caused outages.
ATC works with its construction contractors to plant seed mixes in our transmission line rights-of-way that generate beautiful vegetation beneficial to many species of pollinators.
ATC is using an innovative approach to identify which rights-of-way to distribute the enhanced seed mixes. ATC developed a new geographic information system model to identify right-of-way segments where enhanced seed mixes could help better connect pollinators to their environments.
Helping pollinators is part of ATC’s Grow Smart® program, which provides property owners and communities with suggestions for low-growing, beautiful, compatible vegetation that can be planted in our rights-of-way –a safe distance from transmission lines.
In hot weather, power lines can overheat just as people and animals do. The lines are often heavily loaded because of increased power consumption, and the conductors – which are generally made of copper or aluminum – expand when heated. That expansion increases the slack between transmission line structures, causing the lines to sag.
Transmission lines are designed to meet the requirements of state electrical codes. State codes provide minimum distances between wires, poles, the ground and buildings. Industry standards are often more strict and are incorporated in transmission line design, construction and maintenance.