News | American Transmission Co. - Part 4
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.
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/
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.