What's Current | American Transmission Co. - Part 7
Transmission project interconnecting 300-megawatt solar facility earns regulatory approval from PSCW
As ATC integrates more renewable energy generation within our service area, the electric transmission system continues to provide a vital connection between renewable energy producers and electric consumers. We recently earned state regulatory approval from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin to construct electric transmission facilities that will interconnect with Wisconsin’s largest renewable energy generation facility to date within our service area – the 300 megawatt (MW) Badger Hollow Solar Park in Iowa County, Wis.
“ATC’s Badger Hollow Network Upgrades Project will provide the necessary high-voltage electric interconnection to transport the forthcoming clean energy from the Badger Hollow Solar Park onto the grid,” said Nick Hanold, ATC senior project manager.
Components of ATC’s project include expanding the Highland Substation in the town of Eden, Wis., constructing a new double-circuit 69,000-volt transmission and modifying existing transmission line structures in the region for required uprating. At an estimated cost of $15.6 million, construction will begin in August 2021 and is anticipated to be complete by the end of the year.
The Badger Hollow Solar Park is projected to come online in two phases: Badger Hollow I at 150MW with an anticipated Commercial Operation Date in 2021, and Badger Hollow II for the remaining 150MW with a COD by the end of 2022. Generation from Badger Hollow I will interconnect to the transmission system to the Highland Substation through buildouts ATC completed in August 2020.
Among the Midwest’s largest solar facilities, the Badger Hollow Solar Park is jointly owned by WEC Energy Group utilities We Energies and Wisconsin Public Service (WPS), as well as Madison Gas and Electric (MGE). Each utility will own 100 MW of the energy produced. The facility is being developed by Chicago-based Invenergy.
When an ATC employee read a story in the Stoughton Courier Hub about a light pole with an osprey nest being removed from a baseball diamond at Stoughton High School, he kicked off a concerted team effort to provide the birds with a new place to raise their young.
ATC contacted the city of Stoughton and Stoughton Utilities about donating a utility pole and nesting platform. ATC’s environmental department, together with local avian expert and Stoughton resident Patrick Ready, identified a suitable location for a new osprey nest. Before approving the location, the City solicited feedback from adjacent residents.
ATC’s construction partner M.J. Electric delivered the to the location and ATC delivered the three-by-three-foot nesting platform to Stoughton Utilities, which had agreed to install the pole with the assistance of its construction partner Hooper Corp.
Stoughton Utilities and Hooper installed the new nesting platform and pole in a public green space adjacent to Paradise Pond and south of Nottingham Road roughly a half-mile west of Stoughton High School.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, about 87 percent of Wisconsin’s breeding osprey population nest on platforms. Osprey generally return to Wisconsin in late March/early April to raise their young.
ATC maintains more than 200 nesting platforms on or adjacent to its transmission structures to enable eagles, herons, osprey and other birds to nest safely. Most of ATC’s nesting platforms support breeding osprey pairs.
In 2020, ATC installed three osprey nesting platforms near Portage, Wis., and donated two nesting platforms to the city of Manitowoc and six to the Waupaca Biological Field Station to support their osprey conservation efforts.
Helicopter to be used to install bird diverters along transmission lines in Columbia, Dane, Sauk, Waupaca and Waushara counties
Work slated for first week of March
PEWAUKEE, Wis. – Beginning the week of March 1, American Transmission Co. will install more than 1,800 bird diverters on the wires of five transmission lines in Columbia, Dane, Sauk, Waupaca and Waushara counties.
Using a light-duty helicopter from Winco Powerline Services, ATC’s construction partner M.J. Electric, LLC will install the bird diverters to help keep birds safe while also ensuring the reliability of the transmission system.
“The diverters increase visibility of the wires and help protect birds from contacting the transmission lines while in flight,” said Michael Warwick, ATC senior environmental project manager. “Most of the diverters will be installed over or adjacent to wetlands and bodies of water to help protect larger, heavy-bodied species that do not maneuver easily such as geese, swans, pelicans, cranes and other waterfowl.”
Local officials, along with local law enforcement, have been notified of the work. Diverters will be installed in the following locations:
- Columbia County along portions of a 138,000-volt line (east of Portage, Wis.)
- Within a wetland area east of County Road F and west of County Road EE
- Over a wetland northwest of the intersection of Military and Quarry Roads
- Within the Becker Waterfowl Production Area near Highway 22
- Across the Fox River, north of Pardeeville and west of State Highway 44
- Dane County along a portion of a 69,000-volt line
- Near wetland areas running along a railroad track, starting at Dunkirk and Veterans Road and ending just past Collins Road outside of Stoughton, Wis.
- Sauk County along a portion of a 138,000-volt line (west of Portage, Wis.)
- South of the Pine Island State Wildlife Area, running southwest from I-90 across County Roads U and T and ending north of Back Road
- Waupaca County along a portion of a 69,000-volt line
- Across Hartman Lake within Hartman Creek State Park
- Waushara County along a portion of a 69,000-volt line
- Across the Pine River north of County Road A in Wild Rose, Wis.
Note to editors: View maps of the work area: Columbia and Sauk Counties Dane County Waupaca and Waushara Counties. Information about ATC’s avian protection program can be found here. Helicopter 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.
While we could not hold our annual in-person soup and chili tasting Soup-er Bowl fundraiser event this year, American Transmission Co. employees were able to stir up some much-needed funds for food with a virtual event.
Here’s the play: we set up three different online giving events to support food banks throughout ATC’s footprint:
- Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin
- Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin
- Feeding America West Michigan
Employees could choose one or donate to all three.
To make the event as tasty as possible, ATC committed to match employee donations to the Soup-er Bowl.
It was a game of inches, and our employees really stepped up their game to win the company match. Together we raised $2,210, which means we are providing approximately 6,630 meals to our community members in need.
Way to go ATC, we appreciate our employees who contributed to this amazing team effort!
Two Wisconsin cities and a county park replaced trees lost to emerald ash borer infestations in 2020 thanks to grants from American Transmission Co.’s Community Planting Program.
The emerald ash borer is an invasive beetle introduced from Asia. First detected in Wisconsin in 2008, it has since been found in more than 50 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. EAB attacks all species of ash trees, except mountain ash, which are not true ash trees.
The village of Bellevue used its $1,500 grant to plant shingle oak, frontier elm and dawn redwood trees within the East River Trail Arboretum, which also helped increase the village’s tree diversity.
The city of Plymouth used its $2,000 grant to help replace some of the 100 trees damaged by emerald ash borer infestation. The city purchased small trees in the spring and kept them in a gravel bed until fall to help increase each tree’s root mass to improve the trees’ survival rate. This approach enabled the city to stretch its funding and plant twice as many trees. The trees were planted in parks and other public spaces throughout the city.
The Ozaukee County Planning and Parks District used its $2,500 grant to continue restoring a warm-season prairie within Tendick Nature Park, a 125-acre county park approximately 5 miles north of Saukville. The County planted a variety of native trees – like American hornbeam, bur oak, quaking aspen and white oak – within and around the prairie restoration site to help create a savannah-like ecosystem, increase the diversity of the surrounding forest and wetland habitats, and help filter stormwater that flows from the park into the Milwaukee River.
Our Community Planting Program encourages and supports communities to plant trees and vegetation that beautify the landscape in a way that doesn’t compromise the safety and reliability of the electric transmission system. Since 2013, ATC has awarded approximately 240 communities and organizations with funds totaling more than $425,000.
ATC accepts applications from July 1 through Sept. 30, and award recipients are selected and notified by the end of the year. Awards range from $100 to $5,000. Additional information and program applications can be found at atc-GrowSmart.com.