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ATC vegetation management team cultivates partnership with UW-Stevens Point

A partnership between American Transmission Co.’s vegetation management team and the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point is providing real-world utility arboriculture education and training to College of Natural Resources students.

Each fall, UWSP forestry professor Les Werner, Ph.D., teaches Forestry 331 – Landscape Maintenance/Arboriculture to about 30 students.

“In 2016, Dr. Werner asked for ATC’s assistance with incorporating utility arboriculture into the class curriculum,” said Adam Helminiak, vegetation management consultant. “It started with a couple of two-hour labs and has grown into two lectures and two labs. Both are presented during the fall.”

The vegetation management team developed an outline for the two-hour field labs and a PowerPoint presentation for the lecture. The lecture covered general electrical knowledge, why utilities manage vegetation, working around electricity, career opportunities in the field, and vegetation management tools and technology.

“This is a great opportunity to introduce students to utility vegetation management and expose them to job opportunities in our industry,” said Ben Gura, senior vegetation management specialist.

The field lab sessions covered utility arboriculture as a professional industry, how electricity flows from generation to the consumer, compliance, environmental stewardship and clearing rights, hazard tree identification and risk management, among other topics.

“We continue to build a great relationship with our UWSP partner, and our team feels this is very meaningful to ATC and the utility vegetation management industry,” Helminiak said.

ATC employees help Milwaukee’s homeless

American Transmission Co. believes in the power of United Way to make our community stronger. In our annual campaign, ATC employees raised a total of nearly $200,000 for United Way.

United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County set an ambitious goal this year to end family homelessness in its four-county area by 2025. To help support that goal, employees assembled winter care kits and volunteered as guest advocates for United Way’s Project Homeless Connect.

Project Homeless Connect is an annual event that supports individuals experiencing homelessness by providing them with vital resources and services under one roof. Guest advocates escort individuals who attend the event, helping them connect with providers of housing support, vision and health care, transportation, job training and personal care.

ATC employee guest advocates found it rewarding to share smiles and interesting conversation while escorting their guests to receive haircuts, apply for birth certificates, receive essential clothing and hygiene items and more. Project Homeless Connect is a welcome respite for people in need, and it was an honor for our volunteers to share joyful moments and be a part of United Way’s effort to help end homelessness.

American Transmission Co. issues annual 10-Year Transmission System Assessment

Asset renewal projects, green energy interconnection requests on the rise

PEWAUKEE, Wis. – In a review of market conditions and transmission needs, American Transmission Co.’s annual 10-year plan for electric grid improvements highlights the need for asset renewal projects to ensure reliability, efficiency and safety, and increased interconnection requests from resource developers.

“The combination of aging infrastructure and extreme weather can compromise the reliable, efficient operation of the existing transmission system,” said Jim Vespalec, director of Asset Planning and Engineering. “That’s why approximately 54% of the projects in our 10-Year Plan are dedicated to maintaining and reinforcing the system and improving its resiliency. Our focus on asset renewal — strengthening the performance of our existing transmission facilities — helps to keep the lights on in the communities we serve.”

Andy Dolan, vice president of System Planning, said the rapid expansion of green sources of electric generation is being driven by a combination of consumer preference, reduced costs and political influences. “The generation mix is evolving from traditional fuels like nuclear, coal and natural gas to a growing reliance on sources of green energy including wind and solar,” Dolan said. “In fact, we have seen over 1,500 megawatts of coal generation retire in our footprint since the beginning of 2018; and we are studying proposals to connect over 5,800 MW of solar generation and almost 1,000 MW of wind generation.”

Specifically, ATC’s 10-year plan calls for expenditures of $1.7 billion in asset maintenance, $0.4 billion in network projects, $0.2 billion in regional Multi-Value Projects, and between $0.6 billion and $1.3 billion in other capital expenditures. The full plan can be viewed at atc10yearplan.com.

ATC, Milwaukee Bucks tip off fourth season of Trees for Threes

There’s good news for Wisconsin schools today.

American Transmission Co. and the Milwaukee Bucks have announced our fourth season of partnership for the Trees for Threes program, which is deeply rooted in care for the environment and cause for the community.

Here’s how it works: for every 3-point shot that the Bucks score at home during the 2019-2020 season, an eligible Wisconsin school can earn a tree. That 3-point score tracker starts its uptick on Saturday, Oct. 26 with the Bucks’ season opener against the Miami Heat at Fiserv.Forum in Milwaukee.

“We support initiatives that create a positive impact on the environment, education, and health and well-being,” said ATC’s Director of Corporate Communications, Anne Spaltholz. “Planting trees can be a valuable lesson for students. We hope the Bucks score hundreds more trees for area schools this season so that we can help create greener environments for years to come.”

Last year ATC donated 573 trees to more than 100 schools across Wisconsin, the fourth most threes made by any team at home in NBA history. Throughout the course of this partnership, ATC has donated more than 1,270 trees to make Wisconsin communities and schools a greener place.

Anticipating another big season, we think all those trees (and 3’s) are truly something to cheer about.

Click here to learn more information about the program, and to register.

Check out the photos from past planting events in the image gallery below.

Crews to use helicopters for transmission line construction

Work slated to begin next week near Avoca

PEWAUKEE, Wis. – A heavy-duty helicopter will be used next week to assist in the construction of a 69,000-volt transmission line replacement project along the Wisconsin River, from Avoca, Wis. to Lone Rock, Wis. The helicopter from Erickson Inc. will arrive in Avoca the weekend of Oct. 19. Transmission line construction, including lifts of the poles and cross arms, will begin Monday, Oct. 21 and is expected to finish by Friday, Oct. 25. Beginning the week of Nov. 4, a light-duty helicopter from Haverfield Aviation will assist with the construction of the poles and wires and install bird flight diverters along certain sections of the line.

Local officials, along with local law enforcement, have been notified of the work. Short term road closures can be expected on State Trunk Highway 60 when the new transmission wires are strung across the highway. Security will be on site around the clock while the helicopters are within the region.

Note to editors: View a map of the work area by clicking here. Information about ATC’s avian protection program can be found here. Flight schedules may vary and are subject to change, based on weather. In the interest of safety, please refrain from stopping, viewing and photographing the work from roadways.