News | American Transmission Co. - Part 4
Line will deliver reliability, economic and renewable energy benefits
MADISON, Wis. – The Badger Coulee transmission line, which electrically connects the Dane County area with La Crosse County area, is energized and now part of an integrated electric system serving customers in the region.
The line will help ensure reliable electricity for the region and provide access to lower-cost power and renewable energy. It is part of a portfolio of projects that will help enable the delivery of 25 gigawatts of renewable energy. A 20-mile portion of the project in Dane County was placed in service in 2017.
“Xcel Energy is committed to making investments to deliver safe, reliable and affordable electricity to our customers for decades to come,” said Michael Lamb, Xcel Energy Senior Vice President, Transmission. “This new transmission line opens up additional pathways for carbon-free energy including allowing wind and solar to enter the grid.”
The project was included in a group of 17 Multi-Value Projects designated by the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, which oversees the electric grid in the region. These projects are expected to create $12.1 billion to $52.6 billion in net economic benefits over the next 20 to 40 years and enable 41 million megawatt hours per year of wind generation, which could meet the electric needs of approximately 4 million homes.
“We are very pleased that the Badger Coulee transmission line is now in service,” said Clean Grid Alliance Executive Director Beth Soholt. “This line is a vital link in the integrated network of MISO multi-value transmission projects. Completion of this line not only enables the delivery of thousands of megawatts of clean, low-cost wind power, it will also reduce congestion in the MISO energy market, and add to the reliability of the overall MISO grid.”
This 180-mile, 345,000-volt transmission line was approved by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin in April 2015 and construction activities began in 2016. There was significant economic impact of jobs and worker spending in local communities during construction.
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2150 Assistant Business Manager Jay Allen noted that approximately 90 percent of the 300 Badger Coulee workers from their union live in Wisconsin.
“These jobs provide excellent wages and benefits to our members,” said Allen. “A project such as Badger Coulee has a large economic impact on the local communities. A number of the workers on this project stayed in motels and ate in restaurants near the construction site of the transmission line. Other local businesses that benefited from the project include, campgrounds, department stores and hardware stores.”
“We appreciate the cooperation of area residents and the public as we worked on this project beginning with public involvement in 2010 to completing construction this year,” said American Transmission Co. Director of Environmental and Local Relations Gregory Levesque. “We will be continuing restoration work on portions of the project next year. The ATC environmental department also will continue periodic monitoring through 2023 in the right-of-way to evaluate restoration, revegetation, erosion control and invasive species in certain areas as required by state and federal permits.”
Project maps and additional information are available at www.badgercoulee.com.
American Transmission Co. is a Wisconsin-based company that owns and operates the electric transmission system in portions of the Upper Midwest. 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 has $4.7 billion in assets, including more than 9,600 miles of transmission lines and 554 substations. The company is a member of the MISO regional transmission organization, and provides nondiscriminatory service to all customers, supporting effective competition in energy markets without favoring any market participant. For more information, visit our website at www.atcllc.com.
About Xcel Energy
Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) provides the energy that powers millions of homes and businesses across eight Western and Midwestern states. With its Wisconsin headquarters in Eau Claire, Wis. the company is an industry leader in responsibly reducing carbon emissions and producing and delivering clean energy solutions from a variety of renewable sources at competitive prices. For more information, visit xcelenergy.com or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
North Appleton-Morgan Project in service ahead of schedule, under budget
DE PERE, Wis. – Two new transmission lines have been placed in service to ensure the reliable delivery of electricity in the northern reaches of American Transmission Co.’s service area.
The North Appleton-Morgan Project includes 138-kV and 345-kV transmission lines that run between the North Appleton Substation in Outagamie County and the Morgan Substation in Oconto County. Both substations were significantly expanded, and a new substation, Benson Lake in Marinette County, went into service in 2017.
“The project was estimated to be completed by the end of this year,” said Cliff Van Den Elzen, ATC project manager. “Several innovations in construction techniques and processes enabled construction crews to work more efficiently, allowing us to bring the project on-line early and under the authorized budget.”
Laminate construction mats were used on 100 percent of the power line right-of-way. Use of the laminate mats instead of traditional timber mats saved time and money – not only are they less expensive and twice as wide as timber mats, they are much lighter and easier to install and remove. The lighter mats also reduced crop damage in agricultural areas.
By working with local officials to install temporary decking across local crossroads and matting the entire right-of-way, construction continued without interruption during two winter seasons that included an unprecedented 15 weeks of weight restrictions on local roads.
The project was authorized by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin in 2015 at $327.6 million. Final numbers won’t be tallied for several months.
City of Franklin Hike and Bike Trail and Mukwonago Recreation Trail to be intermittently closed
PEWAUKEE, Wis. – ATC owns and operates a 14-mile, 138-kilovolt electric transmission line between the village of Mukwonago and the city of Muskego known as the St. Martins-Edgewood-Mukwonago Rebuild Project. Construction will initiate at the end of July 2018 to replace the poles and wires along this line and will continue through spring 2019 – with restoration work to follow throughout the summer 2019.
Beginning this week, pre-construction activities will start along portions of the line that parallel the City of Franklin Hike & Bike Trail and the Mukwonago Recreation Trail. Due to the heavy machinery in the area and to ensure public safety, segments of these trails will be intermittently closed. Inaccessible portions of the trails will be clearly marked with snow fencing and signage.
“This transmission line rebuild will help maintain the safety and reliability of the electric transmission system,” said Christine Rawson, ATC project manager. “We appreciate the patience of local residents and trail users during construction while we work to replace this aging infrastructure.”
Note to media: please refer to this map, which depicts the specific locations and approximate dates of this work.
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.
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.