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Madison substation cleanup and cause investigation underway

Last updated July 22, 2019 at 4:40 p.m.

PEWAUKEE, Wis. – Around 7:30 a.m. on Friday, July 19, an explosion and fire at the joint ATC/Madison Gas & Electric Blount Street Substation and East Campus Substation in Madison caused an ATC 69-kV/138-kV transformer to fail. The specific cause of the fires are not yet known.

By 8:50 a.m. on July 19, the fires at Blount Street and East Campus substations in Madison were contained, and no injuries were reported. We also worked with MGE to restore power to the Madison area as quickly and safely as possible.

Following the fire at the Blount Street Substation in Madison on Friday, the Department of Natural Resources has been on site coordinating with ATC and our environmental contractors during cleanup activities. The impact of the fire was largely contained within the substation. Over the weekend, the remaining insulating fluid from the damaged transformer was removed, and some fluid was recovered from outside the substation. Overall cleanup within the substation continues. The second fire at the East Campus Substation resulted in minor damage.

An ATC project team has been formed to determine the condition of the damaged substation equipment, make necessary repairs and investigate the cause. Members of the team are on site today. As previously communicated, ATC believes the fire is related to an electrical failure. We do not believe it was related to outdoor temperatures, which were around 80 degrees at the time of the fire early Friday morning.

ATC conducts routine inspections and maintenance on all of our equipment. Inspections were performed in the Blount Street Substation on Tuesday and Wednesday last week. As part of those inspections, we identified one component within the substation that we felt required additional review, and we made plans to analyze further this week. That component is part of our investigation. We do not want to draw any conclusions until we review all possibilities. Our goal is to determine the cause with reasonable certainty before the end of the month.

As reported Friday afternoon, other transmission infrastructure in the greater Madison area is sufficient to accommodate electric load while repairs are being made at the Blount Street Substation.

ATC thanks Madison’s Fire and Police departments for the quick response to maintain public safety. We also thank officials from the city of Madison and the community for their patience as we worked with Madison Gas & Electric to restore power as quickly and safely as possible.

We will continue to provide information to the media via news releases, Twitter, and our website. We ask the media to continue to work with us to provide the most accurate information to the public.

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Formed in 2001 as the nation’s first multistate transmission-only utility, American Transmission Co. is a Wisconsin-based company that owns and operates more than 10,000 miles of electric transmission lines and approximately 580 substations in portions of Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and Illinois. Our transmission network enables the movement of electricity produced from all forms of generation resources to areas where it is needed. Visit our website at

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