What's Current | American Transmission Co. - Part 5
PEWAUKEE, Wis. — American Transmission Co. has named Greg Levesque vice president of external affairs and communications.
In this newly created position, Levesque will oversee policy, government affairs, real estate, environmental, customer relations, interconnection services, local relations and corporate communications.
Since joining ATC in 2003, Levesque has overseen several departments related to his current role, most recently as director of corporate communications, policy and strategy beginning in 2020.
Prior to joining ATC, Levesque worked as a regulatory analyst at law firms in Madison and Chicago. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as a Master of Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin School of Business.
Outside of his ATC duties, Levesque serves on the Community Board of Directors for the Clean Lakes Alliance in Madison and the American Cancer Society Coaches vs. Cancer Board of Ambassadors.
At American Transmission Co., our job is to operate our transmission system safely and reliably, and we take that responsibility seriously. An important part of that involves managing the vegetation around our transmission facilities to prevent outages. With more than 10,000 miles of transmission lines, that’s no small task.
One unique approach we take is to get help from above – help from a helicopter, that is. We use a light utility helicopter equipped with a heavy-duty aerial saw to trim the vegetation near some of our lines. Rotary saw blades are suspended on a 90- to 100-foot vertical boom that is attached to the helicopter.
The helicopter/aerial saw combination is particularly effective in areas where difficult terrain and wetlands make it challenging for ground crews to access the transmission line corridor. This technique is also very efficient, as the helicopter crew is able to complete in just a few hours what would take a ground-based crew several days to accomplish.
Next week an air-saw equipped helicopter crew will begin side-trimming vegetation along lines in five Wisconsin counties—Crawford, Richland, Rock, Shawano and Waupaca County.
In the interest of safety, if you see a helicopter/aerial saw in the area, please stay at least 300 feet away from the work area and refrain from stopping, viewing and photographing the work from a roadway.
Want to know more? Check out our YouTube channel for video footage of similar aerial saw vegetation management work.
In late December 2021, ATC completed construction of our Badger Hollow Network Upgrades project in Iowa County, Wis. This high-voltage electric interconnection project provides a pathway of power from the 300-megawatt Badger Hollow Solar Park to our region’s electric grid.
The Badger Hollow Solar Park is a facility jointly owned by We Energies, Wisconsin Public Service and Madison Gas and Electric – with each utility owning 100 megawatts of the energy produced. The first 150MW of solar power was placed into service in December and the second 150MW is expected online by the end of 2022.
“To transport that much electric capacity onto the grid and also address thermal overloads from the prior configuration, we needed a new electric transmission line and other modifications in the region to bolster capacity on the system,” said Jon Meiers, ATC senior project manager.
Components of the $15.6 million Badger Hollow Network Upgrades project included:
- Expanding the Highland Substation in the town of Eden, Wis.
- Constructing a new double-circuit 69,000-volt transmission line south from the Highland Substation to connect with line Y-138 in the town of Eden, Wis.
- Uprating the transmission line between Highland Substation and the Spring Green Substation by replacing or modifying select existing structures
A map of the project can be viewed here.
American Transmission Co. has collectively awarded $71,675 to 22 recipients across its service area to plant trees and low-growing vegetation through its Community Planting and Pollinator Habitat programs. Now in its ninth year, ATC has given nearly 290 community awards for these projects totaling more than $560,000.
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.
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:
- Glacial Lakes Conservancy will create a pollinator habitat in the Conservancy’s Charles & Winifred Spring West Twin River Preserve in Manitowoc County.
- North Central Conservancy Trust will begin working to revegetate a 0.96-acre area on the two-acre Annabel Lee Island in the Wisconsin River in Stevens Point just offshore from Bukolt Park.
- Town of Ledgeview will plant native perennials in Ledgeview Park, east of the Winding Waters Way entrance to the East River Trail.
- Village of Bristol will remove invasive species to create the pollinator habitat within the native oak savanna in the village’s new Bristol Bay Park.
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 $2,000 to $5,000 for planting projects on public property, outside the rights-of-way:
- Village of Belgium will plant several trees to provide much needed shade and wind break in the village’s dog part, Pepi’s Playground. The new trees also will reduce stormwater runoff.
- Village of Bristol will plant additional oak trees as it works to finish a native oak savanna in the village’s new Bristol Bay Park.
- Town of Caledonia will add trees to the community’s new Readfield Park adjacent to Readfield Elementary School.
- Elm Grove Beautification Committee will create a large native rain garden in a stormwater discharge area in the Elm Grove Village Park.
- City of Franklin will add native trees to Ken Windl, Ernie Lake and Lions Legend Parks.
- Janesville Urban Forest Alliance will place 36 bare root trees in its gravel bed drip irrigation system to encourage root system growth and increase the likelihood of tree survival after planting.
- Village of Kimberly will replace trees in Sunset Park that have been lost due to the emerald ash borer.
- City of Menasha , along with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development’s young arborist apprenticeship program, will plant trees outside Menasha High School as part of a neighborhood revitalization effort.
- Mequon Nature Preserve will plant 3,000 native tree and shrub seedlings to reforest part of the Preserve adjacent to an ATC transmission line right-of-way.
- Ozaukee County Planning and Parks Department will plant a variety of native trees as part of its multi-phase habitat restoration project at Tendick Nature Park near Saukville.
- City of Pittsville will replace some city trees and add additional trees to city green spaces. The trees will add aesthetics and enhance the visual effect of the community.
- City of Portage will plant trees in the city boulevard along Albert Street between Hamilton and E. Haertel Streets to improve greenspace, wildlife habitat and add shade.
- City of Ripon will plant trees in the Murray and Barlow Parks to replace trees lost to emerald ash borer and from July 2021 severe storms.
- Village of Rochester will add to the small arboretum that ATC helped the village start in 2020.
- City of Waupaca will replace trees lost to emerald ash border along city streets and in city parks.
- City of Wauwatosa will remove invasive species and establish native trees, shrubs, and flowers in Hart Park along the Menomonee River.
- Village of Winter will plan several new trees in Doc Smith Park to replace trees lost in July 2021 severe storms.
- City of Wisconsin Dells will plant 25 trees in five of its city parks to help replace park trees lost to oak wilt.
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 accepts applications for both programs from June 1 through Sept. 30.
Transmission modifications strengthen regional electric reliability, operating flexibility
PEWAUKEE, Wis. – ATC has completed construction of the Port Washington-Saukville Rebuild Project. This project included a 4.8-mile, 138,000-volt transmission line rebuild, along with modifications at the Port Washington Substation in Port Washington, Wis., and Saukville Substation in Saukville, Wis.
Initially identified in ATC’s 10-Year Assessment in 2009, this $25 million infrastructure investment strengthens electric transmission reliability in the southeast Wisconsin area and improves operating flexibility under certain system conditions. The project was officially placed into service Dec. 18, 2021.
The prior H-frame structures were replaced with 41 galvanized steel single-pole structures and new wires, transitioning the line from a single circuit to a double circuit. The replacement process took place in phases. ATC’s contractor, M.J. Electric, began construction in spring 2020 to coincide with system and operational maintenance activities.
“In addition to new wires, we also installed fiber optic wire, which will provide high-speed data to our system operations center,” said Jon Meiers, senior project manager.
Substation work at the Port Washington Substation included the addition of a control house and perimeter fencing. A portion of the Saukville Substation also was upgraded, and line positions were changed.
Restoration along the right-of-way will initiate in the coming weeks and is expected to be complete this spring.
A map of the project can be viewed here.