American Transmission Co.

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What's Current | American Transmission Co. - Part 73

ATC wins Environmental Innovation Award for Rockdale-West Middleton Project

Company honored at WMC’s Business Friend of the Environment Awards

PEWAUKEE, Wis. – American Transmission Co. on May 15 was recognized by Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce for environmental innovation on the Rockdale-West Middleton Transmission Line Project. The 32-mile, 345-kilovolt line provides an important transmission connection between eastern and western Dane County, Wis. The line was energized in early 2013.

ATC received the Environmental Innovation Award for its work designing and building transmission structures in the Yahara wetlands along the Beltline Highway in Madison, Wis. Award winners were selected by an independent panel of judges representing industry, the Department of Natural Resources, the University of Wisconsin and environmental groups.

“Placing structures in the wetlands required the team to address the challenges of accessing the wetland right-of-way and setting structures without causing significant or long-term environmental impacts,” said Environmental Project Manager Amy Lee. “To do this, the team undertook a multidisciplinary evaluation to consider foundation and structure design, construction methods, cost and environmental impacts.”

Construction access and timing
Crews used 2.8 acres of construction matting to access work areas at the edges of the marsh where ground was more stable and used low ground-pressure vehicles called marsh buggies to travel further into the marsh. Because of their wide tracks, these vehicles exert very low ground pressure, even less than a human foot.

Helicopters also were used on multiple occasions to move material and equipment to areas without mat roads. The project team carefully planned construction timing; completing work in the wetlands during the winter months and limiting construction timeframes to avoid spring and fall bird migration and spring fish spawning. Together, these methods eliminated the need for a mat road in the unstable portions of the marsh to provide access for traditional large cranes and heavy concrete trucks.

Foundation installation
ATC engineers and contractors designed and installed 16 helical pier foundations to hold the weight of the structures and have minimal impact on the Yahara wetlands.

“Helical pier foundations are much different from typical concrete foundations,” said Lee. “These hollow foundations screw into the ground and can be unscrewed in the event that they ever have to be decommissioned. They also required no excavation, generated no drilling spoils, and the portable installation equipment was moved with low-impact marsh buggies, barges and skids.” 

Setting structures and stringing wires
Heavy-lift helicopters allowed the team to set eight H-frame structures in less than a day, which is much faster than conventional methods. After structure setting was complete, a smaller helicopter was used to string pull rope and move insulators into permanent positions on the structures.

Protecting habitat for migrating and breeding birds
“To protect birds, we placed bird flight diverters in this area, along with three other locations along the route,” said Lee. “Bird flight diverters make shield wire more visible, increasing the likelihood that the birds will see the wire and adjust their flight pattern to avoid it. Using H-frame structures also allowed us to place wires in a horizontal configuration, which minimizes the obstacle for birds in flight.”

In addition to innovation in design and construction of the line, the project also achieved the following environmental milestones:

  • 30 waterways and 5.6 miles of wetlands crossed and only 0.054 acre of wetlands filled
  • 5 miles of mats used to preserve wetlands and protect agricultural lands
  • Excellent compliance, with no environmental violations or fines
  • More efficient line eliminates 34,000 to 140,000 metric tons of carbon emissions each year from coal plants not having to operate

“We are committed to environmental stewardship and innovation in all aspects of our business,” said Environmental and Local Relations Manager Greg Levesque. “This is evidenced by our participation in the Department of Natural Resource’s Green Tier program, Clean Corporate Citizen designation in Michigan, as well as the policies and actions that guide our construction projects.”

Additional project information, including a final route map and video of work in the Yahara wetlands, is available at

Proposed and alternate routes announced for ATC transmission line

65-mile line would run through Menominee and Delta counties

DE PERE, Wis. – American Transmission Co. will present proposed and alternate route options for a new 138-kilovolt power line as part of its Bay Lake Project at an open house June 5, 2013. The line between the Holmes Substation in Menominee County and an Escanaba-area substation is needed to improve electric reliability in the area.

“The Bay Lake project has changed somewhat since we announced it last year,” said Brett French, external relations manager. “We originally proposed two lines from Holmes to the Escanaba area but, late last year, it was determined that only one line would be needed for the foreseeable future.”

That change required the project team to re-evaluate preliminary routes that had been presented to landowners and other interested parties last fall. During the last six months, route options were identified that maximized the opportunities to co-locate with existing transmission lines, thus minimizing the amount of new right-of-way required. The proposed routes maximize the use of existing transmission line corridors and an abandoned railroad corridor. If the project is approved, the final route will be selected by the Michigan Public Service Commission. An open house will be held:

Wednesday, June 5
Island Resort & Casino
W399 U.S. Highway 2
Harris, Mich.
1 to 7 p.m., EDT

No formal presentation is planned; interested parties are urged to drop in at their convenience.

Additional information, including maps and fact sheets, is available at

ATC identifies proposed route options for Bay Lake Project

Lines would run from North Appleton Substation to Morgan Substation

DE PERE, Wis. – American Transmission Co. has identified proposed route options for transmission lines in Outagamie, Brown and Oconto counties.

The facilities, first announced as part of the Bay Lake Project in April 2012, are needed to address electric reliability concerns in northeastern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Elements of the project proposed for northeastern Wisconsin include new substation facilities located at the site of the company’s North Appleton Substation on French Road in the Town of Freedom, and a 345,000-volt and a 138,000-volt line between the North Appleton and Morgan substations.

“Using feedback received from the public at open houses last year, along with computer modeling and other data and analysis, we have determined that the best location for the new substation facilities is at our North Appleton site,” explained David Hovde, ATC local relations consultant. “Similar information was used to identify route options for the transmission lines.”

Landowners whose property may be affected by the lines are being notified, and open houses are scheduled to talk with property owners and other interested parties about the proposals. Open houses will run from 1 to 7 p.m. on the following days and locations:

Wednesday, May 8                          Thursday, May 9
Oconto Falls Senior Center                 The Colonial House Supper Club
512 Caldwell Ave.                               N4330 County Road E      
Oconto Falls, Wis.                             Freedom, Wis.

ATC intends to file an application with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin for the facilities in early 2014.

The Bay Lake Project also includes a new 138,000-volt line in Michigan, from the Holmes Substation in Menominee County to a substation in Escanaba. An open house for that project is scheduled for June. 

More project information, including an interactive map, is available on the project website,, and a toll-free landowner hotline also has been established for the project: 855-831-5853.

Helicopter crews patrol ATC transmission lines

PEWAUKEE, Wis. – Helicopter crews began patrolling American Transmission Co. electric transmission lines this week to look for damage, right-of-way encroachments and vegetation issues.

ATC contracted the services of Chemair Helicopters of Jefferson, Wis., to patrol the transmission system, which covers portions of Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and Illinois. The patrols are expected to be completed by the end of April, weather permitting.

Crews will inspect the lines by flying approximately 10 feet above the wires, and they will avoid flying over livestock where possible. Schedules may vary due to weather, but crews are expected to be in the following areas this month:

  • Early April: Southeast Wisconsin; Appleton and Green Bay areas
  • Mid-April: Central Wisconsin, southwest Wisconsin and Dane County
  • Late April: Northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

ATC conducts helicopter patrols two or three times a year to detect potential problems that can be corrected to avoid unplanned power outages. Aerial inspections allow crews to reach secluded or difficult-to-reach lines and identify potential problems such as damaged lines or insulators, or tree limbs that could fall, damage equipment and cause power outages. Many of ATC’s 9,440 miles of transmission lines are located in relatively remote areas of Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and it is difficult and time consuming for crews to reach these areas by vehicle or on foot.

Note to editors: A map showing the locations ATC’s transmission facilities is available at

Lorenz named ATC human resources director

Will oversee recruitment, talent development, total rewards, payroll and safety

 PEWAUKEE, Wis. – Lori Lorenz has joined the leadership team at American Transmission Co. as director, human resources.

 Lorenz brings a wealth of human resources expertise to ATC; she most recently was vice president, human resources at Aurora Health Care in Milwaukee. Prior to that, she held leadership roles in human resources at Robert W. Baird & Co. While at Baird, the organization achieved Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” recognition for nine consecutive years.

 A UW-Whitewater graduate, Lorenz holds certifications as Senior Professional in Human Resources, Global Professional in Human Resources and Certified Compensation Professional. She is highly involved in various professional organizations and serves on the personnel committee of the Roger’s Memorial Hospital board of directors, on the steering committee of the Business Health Care Group and is a board member of Carmen High School of Science & Technology in Milwaukee. She volunteers with Junior Achievement, St. Anthony’s on the Lake Catholic Church and Arrowhead School District. Lorenz was recognized in 2008 as one of The Business Journal’s “Forty Under 40” list of young business and community leaders in the Milwaukee metro area.