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ATC awards $65,000 to 24 recipients for planting projects

American Transmission Co. has collectively awarded $65,000 to 24 recipients across its service area to plant trees and low-growing vegetation through its Community Planting and Pollinator Habitat programs. Now in its seventh year, ATC has given more than 240 community awards for these projects totaling more than $425,000.

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 Habitat 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.

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.

Community Planting Program Recipients

“We recognize that trees and vegetation are among the features that make communities special places for residents and visitors,” said ATC Vegetation Management Manager Michelle Stokes. “While we can’t allow trees or tall‑growing vegetation in our rights‑of‑way, ATC’s Community Planting Program encourages and supports communities to plant trees and vegetation that will beautify communities in a way that doesn’t compromise the safety and reliability of the electric transmission system.”

The following entities received amounts ranging from $800 to $5,000 for planting projects on public property, outside the rights-of-way:

Pollinator Habitat Program Recipients

“Part of the reason for the recent decline in pollinator populations is due to loss of habitat,” said ATC Environmental Project Manager Johanna Sievewright. “The Pollinator Habitat Program promotes vegetation that is both compatible with our vegetation management practices and it provides habitat for pollinators, which use the utility corridor as a flight path.”

The following entities received grants ranging from $2,500 to $5,000 to support pollinator habitat projects:

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 adjacent to and within transmission line rights-of-way. ATC will accept applications again for both programs from July 1 through Sept. 30, 2020.

ATC joins Fairview for Hour of Code and 4-star celebration

American Transmission Co. is a proud partner of Milwaukee Public Schools. We recently joined our Adopt-a-School program partners at Fairview School for an Hour of Code with students in grades K-8.

Employee volunteers provided classroom support as students used the Hour of Code activity tools to create code that powered animation applications, games and websites.

It was a special day at Fairview. After the Hour of Code, volunteers joined teachers and students in an all-school assembly. Principal Lisa Rosenberg announced that in the results of the latest School Report Card generated by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, Fairview is now rated as a four star, exceeds expectations school. ATC congratulates Fairview staff, teachers and students on attaining this incredible milestone.

After the announcement, Principal Rosenberg honored ATC employee Jennifer Bradley for her role in facilitating ATC’s support of STEM projects and the community partnership with the school.

“It was a surprise to be honored, especially during such a special moment for the school,” Bradley said. “I’m grateful to ATC for the opportunity to work with Fairview, and to my fellow employees who have volunteered along with me. I look forward to continuing our work with Fairview, it’s such a talented school. The students, teachers, parents and staff are amazing.”

Students then welcomed its cheerleaders and a special visitor, MPS Director Janelle Hawkins, who thanked the students for their hard work and reminded the students them to keep working hard to get smart.

It was a pleasure to participate in these special events and we at ATC look forward to future projects in our continued partnership with Fairview School.

ATC employees help students navigate Junior Achievement’s BizTown

Elementary students aren’t old enough to work, vote or be a boss, but on Dec. 16, ATC employees joined other area volunteers to help about 150 fifth grade students from Humboldt Park Elementary and Riverwest Elementary schools in Milwaukee do just that at Junior Achievement of Wisconsin’s BizTown.

ATC volunteers helped groups of 5-10 students write checks and make business deposits, facilitate meetings, understand their jobs, provide encouragement and overall just have a great day learning how the “real world” works.

JA BizTown combines in-class learning with a day-long visit to a fully interactive, simulated town where students operate a bank, restaurant, city hall, newspaper, retail store and 10 other businesses. The program is designed to give elementary students a better understanding of the relationship between what they learn in school and their participation in a local economy.

Vice President of Audit and Risk Management Juanita Banks, who organized the event, has been involved with JA BizTown for four years. “ATC employees truly care about giving back to our communities and helping these children gain experience running a business is just another great example of that,” said Banks.

American Transmission Co. energizes Spring Valley-North Lake Geneva Electric Reliability Project

Project addresses electric system needs, supports the community and environment

PEWAUKEE, Wis. – The Spring Valley-North Lake Geneva Electric Reliability Project, which electrically connects Kenosha County with the Lake Geneva area, is energized and now part of an integrated electric system serving customers in the region. This 23-mile, 138,000-volt transmission line was approved by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin in March 2016 and construction initiated in 2017.

Components of the $71 million project include: construction of a new 138,000-volt transmission line stretching from the North Lake Geneva Substation in southern Walworth County to the Spring Valley Substation in western Kenosha County, construction of the new Balsam Substation along Wisconsin State Trunk Highway 50 in the town of Wheatland and construction of a new 69,000-volt transmission line to connect the new substation to the Twin Lakes Substation in Twin Lakes.

“There were several unique challenges in the planning of this project,” said ATC Senior Project Manager Doug Berton. “In addition to addressing transmission reliability for the region, we also needed to consider the reconfiguration needs of the lower-voltage system. The Spring Valley-North Lake Geneva project now provides system redundancy and allows for maintenance outages when repairs are needed.”

ATC also worked with its environmental contractor, Stantec, to re-vegetate areas along the route in addition to the perimeter of the substation with a pollinator-friendly seed mix. To date, the substation site has reached 70% re-vegetation, a scoring well-suited for pollinator habitat. ATC also funded the transplant of several dozen trees from the substation site to a local school as part of the Trees for Threes program with the Milwaukee Bucks.

“We appreciate the cooperation of area residents as we worked on this project, beginning with public involvement in 2013 to completing construction,” said ATC Director of Environmental and Local Relations Gregory Levesque. “We will continue restoration on portions of the project in the coming months and continue monitoring pollinator habitats over the next several years.”

Visit www.atc-projects.com for more information. A map of the project can be found here.

ATC employee sends gift boxes to children around the world

The children are excited to send their shoeboxes filled with gifts and personal care items to other children around the world.

About 15 years ago, American Transmission Co. employee Alan Flater and his wife watched as their children opened a seemingly unending pile of Christmas presents. The gifts multiplied with every visit to another family gathering. The true meaning of Christmas was getting lost in a sea of discarded wrapping paper.

“At Christmastime we were finding that there were too many gifts being given, so we decided we could do something different,” said Flater, consultant economist at ATC and father of eight.

With the kids on board, Flater and his wife’s extended family started a new holiday tradition – buying, packing and shipping gifts and personal care items to children in need around the world through Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child.

Throughout the year, Flater’s family hunts for deals on items such as soap, wash cloths, school supplies, knick-knacks, tools, toys and other items. Then at their annual Thanksgiving celebration, about 50 people gather in the basement and form an assembly line to sort the items by age and gender into shoeboxes.

The family members sort items and assemble the shoeboxes.

The group often adds family photos and notes along with their addresses, in case the children want to write back to them. Flater has received a thank you letter from a pastor on behalf of the children in his congregation in Zambia. Other family members have received similar letters of thanks.

This year, the family stuffed, assembled and covered the cost of shipping for 136 boxes. For the last 15 years, they have sent about 150 boxes per year. That means they have touched the lives of more than 2,200 children around the world.

The truck is filled with boxes ready to be shipped.

For Flater, his wife, and children ages 12-30, the tradition has helped them focus on their faith and spending valuable time together throughout the season, with minimal gift exchanges.

“Giving amongst us has been way toned down,” he said. “When we look around and see how much stuff we have and how little stuff others have – we’ve got enough. If we can do a little thing for other people, we decided that was worth it.”