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ATC introduces new Pollinator Planting Program, continues funding for Community Planting Program

Applicants can now request funding for pollinator-specific projects

PEWAUKEE, Wis. – To help make communities greener, American Transmission Co. is introducing a new Pollinator Planting Program, in addition to its Community Planting Program. ATC will begin accepting applications for both planting programs beginning June 1.

Pollinator Planting Program

The Pollinator Planting Program provides funding for the purchase of seeds, plugs or plants that are low-growing, native perennials that can be planted within a transmission line right-of-way. “The decline in pollinator populations is due in part to loss of habitat,” said Johanna Sievewright, ATC environmental project manager. “The vegetation we’re promoting in the Pollinator Planting Program is ideal for transmission line rights-of-way because it’s compatible with our vegetation management practices and it works well for pollinators, which use the utility corridor as a flight path.”

Cities, villages, towns, counties, tribes and entities that allow public access to ATC rights-of-way (e.g. nature preserves, non-profits or public land managers) within ATC’s service area are eligible to apply for financial support of planting projects through the Pollinator Planting Program.

Community Planting Program

The Community Planting Program continues to provide financial support to eligible cities, villages, towns, counties and tribes in ATC’s service area for planting projects on public property, outside transmission line rights-of-way. Recipients can use the program funding to plant trees and other tall-growing vegetation outside the transmission line rights-of-way.

The Community Planting Program is now in its sixth year, and the program helps communities that host ATC transmission facilities. Since its inception, ATC has awarded nearly $300,000 to more than 175 eligible municipalities and counties.

To qualify, communities must commit that all current and future planting plans and urban forestry activities near high-voltage electric transmission lines will comply with ATC’s maintenance standards.

Applications, funding

ATC will accept applications from June 1 through Sept. 30, and award recipients will be selected and notified by the end of the year. Awards for both programs range from $100 to $5,000.

The Community Planting Program and Pollinator Planting Program are part of the Grow Smart initiative, which is directed toward individual landowners and advocates planting low-growing, compatible vegetation in transmission line rights-of-way. Additional information about ATC’s own pollinator planting initiatives, application for the planting programs and eligibility criteria are all available on ATC’s Grow Smart website at atc-GrowSmart.com.

ATC electrically reconnects the Upper Peninsula and lower Michigan

Three undamaged cables combined to form a powerline across Straits of Mackinac

PEWAUKEE, Wis. – American Transmission Co. has restored the electrical connection between the Upper Peninsula and lower Michigan. Two powerlines made up of six submarine cables in the Straits of Mackinac tripped offline Sunday, April 1. Three cables are needed to make one circuit, or powerline. Two of the cables – one in each circuit – were damaged, possibly by vessel activity, and were subsequently decommissioned after they were found to be releasing dielectric insulating fluid. Subsea inspections revealed that at least three of the remaining cables were undamaged and operable; ATC reconfigured and tested those cables to create a circuit across the Straits. The new circuit went into operation on Tuesday, May 1.

“This connection is essential for reliability for the eastern U.P. and the northern portion of lower Michigan,” said Mark Davis, chief operating officer for ATC. “We were able to maintain reliability by implementing conservative operating procedures during the month the connection was lost, but re-establishing this powerline will give us greater flexibility and an added measure of reliability to help us keep the lights on.”

The damaged cables have been soldered, capped, sealed and returned to the bottom of the Straits. ATC is making plans to permit and construct two new circuits in the Straits using a solid dielectric insulator, and to eventually decommission the six fluid-filled insulating cables. No firm timeline or cost has been established.

“We thank all the participants in the Unified Command, led by the U.S. Coast Guard, for the safe and efficient response to this incident,” Davis said. “The coordinated response helped minimize impacts to the environment and local community.”

Note to editors:
For additional information, please visit http://www.atcllc.com/straitscables/

ATC establishes web page for Mackinac Straits submarine cables

American Transmission Co. has created a website for information about the damage to two electric power lines under the Straits of Mackinac last week. The website provides an overview of the situation, ATC’s infrastructure and response. Please refer to the site for the latest information from ATC. For information about the recovery effort, please contact the U.S. Coast Guard’s Joint Information Center in Mackinaw City via email at PointLeBarbeResponseJIC@gmail.com or (906) 748-0737.

Electric transmission submarine cables damaged in Straits of Mackinac

From: jolson@atcllc.com

          877-506-6117

PEWAUKEE, Wis. — American Transmission Co. today took the unprecedented step to shut down two submarine cables in the Straits of Mackinac that electrically connect the Upper Peninsula to lower Michigan as the result of yet-undetermined damage.

The cables tripped offline about 30 seconds apart Sunday evening, April 1. A patrol of the overhead elements of the system between Point Lebarbe in St. Ignace and the McGulpin Riser Station in Mackinac City showed no damage. The submarine cables, which contain a mineral-based fluid for insulation, were monitored overnight and subsequently determined to be leaking. Pressure on the system was reduced to minimize the fluid leak as maintenance, environmental and operations personnel worked to locate the compromised section of the cables on Monday, April 2. Investigations included aerial patrols over the Straits, cable testing and system reconfiguration options.

Extreme weather conditions, including icing in the channel and on shore, hindered the damage investigation and contributed to ATC’s decision to shut down the cables this morning, April 3. As a result, the two cables cannot be repaired and have been rendered permanently inoperable. ATC will be determining the condition of other cables in the Straits.

“It was an extraordinary set of circumstances, but ultimately, the decision to shut down the cables had to be made,” said Mark Davis, ATC chief operating officer. “We will continue to investigate the cause of the incident, determine any necessary remediation efforts and continue communicating with the appropriate regulatory agencies.”

ATC has notified the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and the Michigan Public Service Commission of its decision to shut down the electrical cables.

ATC owns and operates most of the electric transmission grid in the Upper Peninsula. The system continues to operate normally at this time. ATC is coordinating with the Midcontinent Independent System Operator and Midwest Reliability Organization to determine short-term and long-term solutions.

ATC receives approval from PSC for Riverside Transmission Line Project

Project will connect expanded West Riverside Energy Center to electric grid

Madison, Wis. – American Transmission Co. on Jan. 12 received approval from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin to construct an approximately 4.2 mile, 345,000-volt Riverside Transmission Line Project. The project will consist of a double-circuit transmission line from a planned new substation near the Alliant Energy West Riverside Energy Center to an existing 345-kV transmission line in the Town of Beloit.

The line is needed to connect the expanded West Riverside Energy Center to the electric transmission grid. The West Riverside Energy Center will include a natural gas-fueled generating station with an integrated solar installation.

“The ordered route is made up of segments from the two routes that ATC submitted to the PSC,” said ATC Project Manager Mark Sanzenbacher. “The anticipated project cost is approximately $42 million.”

The planned in-service date of the line is 2019. The PSC order and other documents associated with the proposed project are available at www.psc.wi.gov. The docket number for this project is 137-CE-186.

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