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News | American Transmission Co. - Part 38

ATC places upgraded power line in service

Rebuilt facilities in northern Wisconsin, Upper Michigan improve power flow

DE PERE, Wis. – The last section of a rebuilt electric transmission line between Conover, Wis., and Quinnesec, Mich. has been placed into service.

“Upgrading this 74-mile line from 69,000 volts to 138,000 volts has helped reinforce the electric system in the entire region,” said Tom Schemm, construction project manager for American Transmission Co., owner and operator of the line. “These were some of the oldest facilities on our system, and the need for system improvements in this area was evident in the 1990s.”

ATC proposed the project in 2004; it was approved by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin in 2006 at an authorized cost of $118 million. The project also included a new 16- mile,115-kilovolt line between Eagle River and Conover, which was placed in service in June 2008. Rebuilding the lines between Conover and Quinnesec began in 2009 and was completed more than two months ahead of schedule and about 12 percent under budget. The project also involved construction of two new substations and modifications or upgrades to six additional substations.

“These facilities essentially complete the interconnection of three previously weak areas – the 115-kilovolt system north of Wausau, the western Upper Peninsula and the Iron Mountain, Mich., area,” Schemm said. “That will increase overall reliability in the area and improve our ability to transfer power between northern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan.” The older facilities also were vulnerable to lightning strikes and outages.

“Collaboration with our contractors, vendors and suppliers, including MJ Electric Inc. and Black & Veatch Engineering, helped us squeeze some of the cost out of the project through strategic use of lay-down yards, redesign of poles and foundations and efficient use of labor,” Schemm said. “Lessons learned on this project will be incorporated in our future construction activities.”

American Transmission Co. completes work on cost-saving power line

High-voltage line in south central Wisconsin connects to regional generation sources

PEWAUKEE, Wis. – American Transmission Co. has put into service a new, 35-mile highvoltage electric transmission line in south central Wisconsin that provides local electric utilities with improved access to the regional energy market to buy and sell electricity when it is economic to do so. The 345-kilovolt circuit was built on an existing transmission line right-of-way between the Rockdale Substation in the Town of Christiana in Dane County and the Paddock Substation located in the Town of Beloit in Rock County. The lines that extend south out of the Paddock Substation into Illinois create a path for importing power into Wisconsin.

“Completion of this project is a significant milestone,” said Flora Flygt, director of Transmission Planning. Paddock-Rockdale is the first transmission line project within the footprint of the Midwest Independent System Operator that was justified on economics. Until this project, transmission lines in the region have almost exclusively been built to enhance reliability of electric power in the area. Although improved reliability will be a by-product of the project, economics drove the decision to build.

Flygt said, “The primary benefit of this line is local electric distribution companies now have greater ability to participate in the wholesale electricity market.” She explains, “Wisconsin has fewer transmission line connections to other states compared with its neighboring states. This transmission congestion limits the ability of electric utilities to access the market to purchase lower-cost electricity when prices are lower and sell into the market when prices are higher. The economic benefits of enhanced access can be passed on to end-use customers. The Paddock- Rockdale project provides the needed transmission capacity for today’s energy marketplace, especially with the growing movement toward renewable energy.”

The Paddock-Rockdale project was completed ahead of schedule, and within the approved $133 million budget. Anticipated savings from the project are expected to more than pay for its development.

During construction of the line, ATC took careful consideration of the cost and the environment, using a helicopter for a portion of the work to expedite stringing wire and installing components. By accessing the line via helicopter, fewer timber mats were placed as temporary roads for construction equipment on the ground. As a result, soil disturbance was minimized, which makes restoration work following completion of construction easier and less costly. Restoration will continue throughout the spring and summer.

Note to editors: A map and additional information on the Paddock-Rockdale project is available at

American Transmission Co. names Banks to lead Internal Audit, Compliance

PEWAUKEE, Wis. – American Transmission Co. has named Juanita C. Banks director of Internal Audit and Compliance. Banks will provide strategic direction for both departments and will oversee ATC’s compliance with new federal mandatory reliability standards that ensure the safe and reliable operation of the bulk electric system. Banks will report to Bert Garvin, vice president, general counsel and secretary.

Banks served as manager of internal audit at ATC for four years where she also chaired the ethics committee. Most recently, Banks was an associate director of internal audit with Protiviti Inc., an internal audit and business risk consulting firm. She also held accounting and auditing positions at WH Brady, Northwestern Mutual and Arthur Andersen, and worked as a special agent with the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

Banks received a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Wisconsin –Milwaukee. She is a certified public accountant and certified internal auditor.

American Transmission Co. to begin soil boring in Yahara Wetlands

Environmentally friendly process will help determine pole placement

MADISON, Wis. – Although the actual construction won’t begin until 2011, American Transmission Co. is starting preliminary field work this week for a new 32-mile, 345,000-volt electric transmission line through Dane County between the towns of Middleton and Christiana. The power line route along the Beltline Highway that was approved last summer by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin includes the placement of several transmission structures in the wetlands adjacent to the Yahara River.

Determining the exact placement, depth and design of structures requires an analysis of the conditions for supporting a 120-foot, steel transmission pole. This analysis, which is accomplished through soil borings, helps determine whether the structures will be placed in soil, rocks or moisture and what provisions will be required to ensure the concrete pole foundations are adequate to secure and stabilize the weight of the poles.

“Conducting soil boring is a fairly routine task on any power line construction project,” says Brian Fischer, ATC project manager. “But marshy wetland areas present additional challenges to ensure that we are minimizing disturbances to an environmentally sensitive area.”

For this reason, ATC’s contractors are conducting the work during the winter months using a specialized vehicle called a Marsh Buggy to access these wetlands where at least ten structures may be located. “This vehicle is designed to navigate marshy areas while minimizing impacts, and has been used successfully on similar projects in other areas of the country where environmental impacts had to be managed,” says Fischer.

The Marsh Buggy, which will be visible from the Beltline Highway, will carry the soil boring equipment and will remain on site for about two to four weeks beginning this week. The vehicle measures about 25 feet long and 14 feet wide, and may be frequently visible from the Beltline. “While visually the Marsh Buggy may appear intrusive, it’s the best piece of equipment available for the job and it’s the best time of year to perform this type of work in this particular area,” says Amy Lee, ATC environmental project manager. “In addition, ATC will have environmental staff on site monitoring this two-to-four week operation, which will also require the removal of some vegetation to allow crews to safely maneuver the vehicle and operate the soil boring equipment.”

In addition to the Marsh Buggy, a second smaller vehicle similar to an ATV, called an ARGO, will be used to transport crews and supplies to and from the Marsh Buggy.

Elsewhere on the 32-mile route, crews will be conducting soil borings in the coming months using standard vehicles and also performing environmental surveying, along with other activities in advance of the start of construction in 2011. Construction is expected to be completed in 2013.

American Transmission Co. names Sanford deputy general counsel

PEWAUKEE, Wis. – American Transmission Co. has named Dan Sanford deputy general counsel and director of Legal Services. Sanford, who served as managing attorney, will report to Robert Garvin, vice president, general counsel and secretary.

Sanford joined ATC in December 2001 as one of its first staff attorneys, and was promoted to managing attorney in 2007. He has provided guidance to ATC’s management and operations on a wide range of business issues, concentrating on state and federal legal and regulatory matters. In his new role, he will be responsible for continuing to provide guidance to ATC’s general counsel and management and will manage the activities of legal department.

Sanford has extensive experience in the electric and gas industry representing a breadth of industry enterprises including natural gas pipelines, natural gas and electric distribution companies, and independent marketers. Prior to joining ATC, Sanford represented several large utilities including Questar Corp., Florida Power Corp. and Wisconsin Electric, as well as serving as deputy general counsel for the American Gas Association.

Sanford received both a bachelor’s degree in political science and law degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.