American Transmission Co.

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What’s Current

ATC and Milwaukee Bucks team up for third year of Trees for Threes program

On Friday, Oct. 19, the Milwaukee Bucks will kick off the 2018-19 season at home in their new stadium, Fiserv Forum. While their ambiance is new, and not to mention, coach – one thing isn’t: ATC’s  partnership with them.

This year marks the third season that ATC has aligned with the Bucks on the Trees for Threes program and it’s no surprise why – it’s a beneficial relationship for communities and schools. The Bucks score a 3-pointer at home, and a Wisconsin school in our service area scores a tree.

“Our partnership with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Trees for Threes program is a win for local schools and the environment,” said ATC’s Director of Corporate Communications, Anne Spaltholz. “ATC supports initiatives that have a positive impact on the environment, education, and health and well-being. Planting trees at schools aligns well with these initiatives, and we’re proud to continue our relationship with the Bucks to help accomplish this.”

During the 2016-17 season, the Bucks scored 343 3-pointers at home resulting in plantings at 83 schools. Last year, the Bucks bumped up the 3-pointer total to 355. This season, we anticipate even more. We were flooded with gratitude from many of the recipients last season. Below are the comments from just a few of them:

“I just wanted to be sure to thank you, American Transmission Company, and the Milwaukee Bucks for awarding us through the Trees for Threes program! We have planted four trees near our high school sports facility, where parents and athletes remind us that some shade would be nice!  We plan to purchase a couple more, thanks to this fantastic program!”
Kathy Klos
Viroqua High School Principal
Viroqua, WI

“On behalf of the entire Village of Waunakee, we would like to say THANK YOU again to ATC and the Milwaukee Bucks. This award was supplemented with funds from our parks budget and we were able to plant 31 trees earlier this month. We selected a wide variety of trees including maple, birch, ginkgo, oak, cypress spruce and flowering pears.”
Susan E. S. McDade
Community Services Director
Waunakee, WI

“Your recent gift for the donation made through the Trees for Threes program makes it possible for Catholic Memorial High School to educate, guide and prepare young people who will distinguish themselves from all their talented peers.”
Donna Bembenek
President, Catholic Memorial High School
Waukesha, WI

“The staff and students at Humke Elementary School would like to take a moment and thank you for selecting our school in the Trees for Threes program. We are excited to plant the trees at our school and will have many years of joy watching them grow and prosper – just like we have with our students.”
Jon Sprehn
Humke Elementary School Principal
Nekoosa, WI

“I am writing with deep gratitude for the Trees for Threes program. This gift will allow us to improve the grounds of our school and make a positive environmental impact. It is important to promote strong environmental values to our students, as well as provide a beautiful campus.”
Anthony McHenry
Chief Executive Officer, Milwaukee Academy of Science
Milwaukee, WI

Read more in the Bucks’ news release.

United We Care campaign full of fun and generosity

Giving to United Way is part of ATC’s commitment to the communities we serve. We just completed this year’s United We Care campaign, raising a total of $214,468, including employee pledges, special event fundraising and company match. This was a 16 percent increase over last year’s campaign. Working together with United Way, we are happy to support programs that make our communities stronger, safer and more united.

We owe the success of the campaign in part to the fun events employees planned to help raise awareness of the campaign.

Our De Pere employees set up a United We Care mini-golf course in the office for a one-day event that included employee hole sponsors and great prizes. Employees, and some of their family members, got creative to make it challenging, building obstacles into the course like an aerial saw in a transmission-line right-of-way.

We brought back our United Way Throwdown bag-toss tournament and United Way Trivia Jam. Both games take place companywide with teams at each office across our footprint holding preliminary rounds. The winning teams played final rounds in the Pewaukee headquarters at the campaign closing celebration.

In Madison, employees brought delicious fixings for a taco bar lunch to raise funds. And our Cottage Grove employees used their backyard basketball hoop for a ‘Round the World basketball challenge and food drive to benefit Second Harvest.

The spirit of giving and the camaraderie generated during the campaign were a genuine reflection of our campaign theme, United We Care.

Notes from the Field – Branch River Substation a haven for pollinators

Editor’s note: September in northeastern Wisconsin. Fall colors start to hint at future glory, native plants go to seed, providing nourishment for wildlife, while delicate asters and black-eyed Susans remain to offer bursts of color on the landscape. In wetter years, mosquitoes also make a bold stand and swarm alongside the butterflies and bees that are drawn to any of the many American Transmission Co. Pollinator planting sites. It’s the quintessential summer swan song.

ATC environmental project managers traverse hills and countryside monitoring construction activities year-round. They are the eyes and ears in the field, working with contractors to ensure that we demonstrate our environmental commitment.

Our Notes from the Field blog features highlights of what our environmental project managers see while they work on projects throughout our service area. This installment features photos and observations from Erika Biemann, ATC senior environmental project manager.

Prior to joining ATC, Erika worked for the City of Milwaukee and an engineering consulting firm. Biemann’s experience includes environmental project management, environmental site investigations, remediation, hydrogeology and waste management.

Biemann holds a bachelor of arts degree in biology with an emphasis in environmental studies from Lawrence University and a master of science degree in biological sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Biemann’s graduate research focus was limnology and aquatic biology.

Biemann enjoys volunteering through ATC’s Green Team and Days of Caring programs. Biemann also is involved in school parent organizations and helps manage youth sports teams.


The Branch River Substation, Town of Cato, Wis., was placed in service this year. But long before the power began flowing, environmental assessments, site-specific engineering and a comprehensive planting and drainage plan were developed by the project team. Members of the team recently visited the site to view progress.

ATC issues 2018 10-Year Transmission System Assessment

Plan calls for capital expenditure of $2.8 billion to $3.4 billion

PEWAUKEE, Wis. – American Transmission Co.’s 10-year plan for electric grid improvements calls for a mix of new construction and continued asset maintenance to maintain the company’s top performance in operations.

“Our long-range planning efforts assure the reliability that our customers depend on,” said Jim Vespalec, director of asset planning and engineering. “The expenditures in the 2018 plan reflect the measures necessary to maintain and improve electric reliability.”
Specifically, the plan calls for expenditures of $1.5 billion in asset maintenance, $0.3 billion in regional Multi-Value Projects, $0.5 billion in network projects and between $0.5 billion and $1.1 billion in other capital expenditures.

“Long-term planning has always been a complex undertaking, but it was relatively consistent in the days of steady load growth and a stable generation mix,” said Ron Snead, vice president of system planning. “Today’s world is much more dynamic. We anticipate more than 30 percent of the coal-fired generation in our service territory will be retired by the end of 2019. That requires agility and flexibility in working with our customers to reliably and efficiently meet their transmission needs.”

The full plan is available for viewing at

ATC energizes two power lines in northeastern Wisconsin

North Appleton-Morgan Project in service ahead of schedule, under budget


Laminate construction mats were used along the right-of-way.

DE PERE, Wis. – Two new transmission lines have been placed in service to ensure the reliable delivery of electricity in the northern reaches of American Transmission Co.’s service area.

The North Appleton-Morgan Project includes 138-kV and 345-kV transmission lines that run between the North Appleton Substation in Outagamie County and the Morgan Substation in Oconto County. Both substations were significantly expanded, and a new substation, Benson Lake in Marinette County, went into service in 2017.

“The project was estimated to be completed by the end of this year,” said Cliff Van Den Elzen, ATC project manager. “Several innovations in construction techniques and processes enabled construction crews to work more efficiently, allowing us to bring the project on-line early and under the authorized budget.”

Laminate construction mats were used on 100 percent of the power line right-of-way. Use of the laminate mats instead of traditional timber mats saved time and money – not only are they less expensive and twice as wide as timber mats, they are much lighter and easier to install and remove. The lighter mats also reduced crop damage in agricultural areas.

By working with local officials to install temporary decking across local crossroads and matting the entire right-of-way, construction continued without interruption during two winter seasons that included an unprecedented 15 weeks of weight restrictions on local roads.

The project was authorized by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin in 2015 at $327.6 million. Final numbers won’t be tallied for several months.