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ATC to begin soil boring testing in Straits of Mackinac for upcoming cable replacement project

Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers issued permit; work will include shoreline and submarine soil borings

PEWAUKEE, Wis. — American Transmission Co. will begin soil boring testing the week of May 13 in preparation for the planned replacement of ATC’s 138,000-volt submarine electric cables crossing the Straits of Mackinac that were damaged last year when an anchor struck them. The soil borings will begin along the Upper and Lower Michigan shorelines, near the McGulpin and Point La Barbe Riser Stations, and will continue along the lakebed of the Straits through June. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy and U.S. Army Corp of Engineers in mid-March issued a permit authorizing the work.

“Our goal is to fully assess the soil where we anticipate the new cables will be located, while minimizing shoreline and lakebed disturbance,” said ATC Project Manager Dustin Johanek.

Following the soil boring work, ATC will apply for additional regulatory and environmental permits from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and Michigan’s EGLE by the end of 2019. Beginning in the second quarter of 2021, ATC plans to remove the existing submarine cables and replace them with cables containing solid dielectric insulation to re-establish the two, approximately 4-mile, 138-kv circuits in the Straits. The in-service date is anticipated to be December 2021. ATC continues to work with tribal nations, regulators and nearby landowners to gather input on the cable replacement project.

Note to editors: In its December 2018 Transmission Expansion Plan, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator recommended the replacement of ATC’s two electric circuits in the Straits as soon as practical to ensure the continued reliable service to the Upper Peninsula. More information about ATC’s Straits Cable Replacement Project can be found on the project page. Details regarding the April 2018 anchor strike to ATC’s cables and the subsequent restoration can be found here.

Electric transmission line connecting West Riverside Energy Center to the grid placed in service

Line is part of an integrated electric system serving customers in the region

Madison, Wis. – American Transmission Co. recently energized the approximately 4.2-mile, 345,000-volt Riverside transmission line. Project work included building a new substation near the Alliant Energy West Riverside Energy Center and connecting a new double-circuit transmission line 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 estimated cost of the transmission line project is $42 million.

“We’d like to thank members of the public and residents for their cooperation as we worked to construct the transmission line and substation,” said ATC Project Manager Mark Sanzenbacher. “Crews are expected to complete restoration activities in the area this spring.”

Additional project information is available at www.atc-projects.com.

Railbelt utilities seek regulatory approval to form transmission utility

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Four Railbelt utilities, Golden Valley Electric Association (“GVEA”), Anchorage Municipal Light and Power (“ML&P”), the City of Seward (“Seward”) and Homer Electric Association (“HEA”) have jointly submitted an application to the Regulatory Commission of Alaska (“RCA”) for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity to form a transmission-only utility in Alaska’s Railbelt region. Today’s filing is the culmination of more than four years of voluntary work by the above parties working in close collaboration with Chugach Electric Association (“Chugach”) and Matanuska Electric Association (“MEA”). The work to date has included an evaluation of how the formation of an Alaska Railbelt Transmission company can provide overall benefits to consumers. The Railbelt utilities have worked closely with American Transmission Co., (ATC) a Wisconsin-based transmission-only utility formed through a similar effort in 2001 in the Midwest.

Today’s filing with the RCA establishes:

  1. the need to form a transmission-only utility;
  2. the interest of each utility participating in the formation;
  3. a tariff that describes how transmission services will be provided to each of the existing Railbelt
    utilities and other users of the system, including the allocation of costs; and
  4. the ongoing responsibilities of the Railbelt’s utilities to operate, maintain and invest in the
    transmission system.

The next step in the application process is a determination by the RCA that the application is complete, following which there is a 6-month review period prescribed for the Commission’s decision. The Railbelt utilities’ application can be found on the RCA website.


Anchorage Municipal Light & Power
– ML&P provides electric utility service to commercial, university and medical customers in the downtown and midtown business districts as well as industrial loads in the Ship Creek and port areas. In addition, it serves residential customers in some of Anchorage’s oldest neighborhoods in its roughly 20-square-mile area. ML&P powers Joint
Base Elmendorf-Richardson and sells electricity to other Railbelt utilities. www.mlandp.com 
Media contact: Julie Harris, HarrisJA@muni.org, 907-263-5423

Golden Valley Electric Association – GVEA is a member-owned cooperative that serves over 44,800 meters and maintains 3,260 miles of transmission and distribution lines in Interior
Alaska. Its system is interconnected with Fort Wainwright, Eielson AFB, Fort Greely, Clear AFB, the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and all electric utilities in the Alaska Railbelt, which extends from Homer, Alaska to Fairbanks. www.gvea.com
Media contact: Corinne Bradish, cabradish@gvea.com, 907-451-5676

Homer Electric Association, Inc. – HEA is a member-owned electric cooperative that serves the western Kenai Peninsula. The cooperative has over 33,000 meters on its system and maintains 2,407 miles of energized lines. HEA owns and operates three generation plants on the Kenai Peninsula and its transmission services provide all Railbelt utilities access to low-cost energy. www.homerelectric.com
Media contact: Bruce Shelley, bshelley@homerelectric.com, 907-283-2324

City of Seward Electric System – City of Seward runs its own electric utility and purchases power from
Chugach Electric Association and has backup generation capabilities. www.cityofseward.us
Media contact: Brenda Ballou, bballou@cityofseward.net, 907-224-4045

American Transmission Co. – ATC is a Wisconsin-based utility that owns and operates the electric transmission system in portions of Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and Illinois. Formed in 2001 as the nation’s first multi-state transmission-only utility, ATC has invested $4.5 billion to improve the adequacy and reliability of its infrastructure. ATC now owns and operates $4.7 billion in assets, including more than 9,600 miles of transmission lines and 554 substations. 12% of ATC’s ownership is municipal and cooperative utilities, and 88% is investor-owned utilities.  www.atcllc.com
Media contact: Anne Spaltholz, aspaltholz@atcllc.com, 877-506-6117

Both lanes reopened on Broadway in Madison after downed wire caused closure

MADISON, Wis. –  Crews responded to a downed wire on East Broadway near the intersection of Edna Taylor Parkway in Madison today. 

The downed wire caused the closure of both lanes of westbound traffic on East Broadway. One lane of traffic has been reopened. Repairs are expected to be completed this afternoon. 

The incident occurred after an equipment failure, which caused the wire to drop on the road.

Updated 1:28 p.m.: Both westbound and eastbound lanes of traffic have been reopened.

ATC awards $58,600 amongst 27 recipients for planting projects

Twenty-three communities to plant outside transmission line rights-of-way; four recipients will plant inside the right-of-way, benefitting pollinators

PEWAUKEE, Wis. – American Transmission Co. has awarded collectively $58,600 to 27 recipients across its service area to plant trees and low-growing vegetation through two programs – the Community Planting and Pollinator Planting programs. Now in its sixth year, ATC has given more than 200 community awards for these projects totaling nearly $360,000.

Vegetation funded through the Community Planting Program requires that communities plant trees outside of high-voltage transmission line rights-of-way. Low-growing, compatible vegetation funded through the Pollinator Planting Program allows entities to cultivate species within the rights-of-way that benefit pollinator food and habitat. Both programs help maintain electric reliability of the transmission system by keeping tall-growing vegetation outside the rights-of-way.

“As an electric utility, we’re uniquely positioned to support the declining pollinator population,” said Mark Davis, executive vice president and chief operating officer. “We established ATC’s pollinator planting initiative about two years ago, developing our own rights-of-way and substation landscaping – following construction. The Pollinator Planting Program extends that opportunity to qualified applicants within our service area because recipients can plant low-growing vegetation in the right-of-way to develop spaces for pollinators. Meanwhile we continue to provide funding to applicants who wish to plant and grow trees outside the right-of-way through our Community Planting Program.”

Recipients of both programs commit to comply with ATC’s maintenance standards for all current and future planting plans and urban forestry activities near high-voltage electric transmission lines. Mequon Nature Preserve, Baird Creek Preservation Foundation in the town of Eaton and the cities of Stevens Point and Muskego all received funding to support pollinator planting projects. The following Wisconsin communities received amounts ranging from $500 to $5,000 for planting projects on public property, outside the rights-of-way:

BarabooGays MillsOzaukee CountySheboygan County
BellevueJanesvillePardeevilleThree Lakes
BristolKishwauketoe Nature ConservancyPortageWaterford
Dane Co. Tree BoardMadisonPort EdwardsWaupaca
De ForestMiltonRichland CountyWest Allis
EdgertonNekoosaShawano

Both the Community Planting Program and Pollinator Planting Program are part of ATC’s Grow Smart® initiative, which advocates for and provides suggestions of low-growing, compatible vegetation that can be planted in transmission line rights-of-way. ATC will accept applications again for both programs from June 1 through Sept. 30, 2019.