American Transmission Co. makes progress on Wisconsin power lines

American Transmission Co. provided an update on its St. Martins-Edgewood-Mukwonago Rebuild Project, telling the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin that construction began on Dec. 18, 2017, when right of way clearing began.

The project remains on schedule for completion in June 2019, the company said in its quarterly progress report for the period Oct. 1, 2017, through Dec. 31, 2017.

Detailed design for the Mukwonago and Edgewood substations continued, ATC said, adding that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit is expected late this month.

As TransmissionHub reported, the commission in October 2015 approved the rebuild of the line in southeastern Wisconsin where the lattice structures are almost 90 years old and at the end of their useful life.

ATC’s request for a one-year extension to begin construction on rebuilding existing 138-kV electric transmission line and substation facilities between the existing St. Martins and Edgewood substations, and between the Edgewood and Mukwonago substations, was granted last year.   

According to a Nov. 15, 2016, filing by the state Division of Energy Regulation, the commission in October 2015 approved ATC’s application for authority to rebuild the existing 138-kV lines. Order Condition 15 in the final decision stated that “if ATC does not begin on-site physical construction within one year of the effective date of this certificate of authority and order, the certificate authorizing the approved project shall become void unless ATC: files a written request for an extension of time with the commission before the date on which the certificate becomes void, and is granted an extension by the commission.”

ATC in August 2016 filed a written request for extension to begin construction for the approved project, the division said, adding that the company’s stated reasons for its request were “resource constraints, primarily the availability of construction labor.”

ATC requested an extension of one year, until September 2018, in order to begin construction, the division said.

In its Jan. 24 filing, ATC noted that the “estimate at completion (as of December 31, 2017)” project costs were about $22 million, and that the “approved” total project costs are about $24.7 million.

Separately on Jan. 24, ATC filed with the commission its quarterly progress report for the same time period for its Boscobel to Lone Rock (Line Y124) Rebuild Project, noting that that project is on schedule for a December 2019 in-service date.

Construction began on Dec. 20, 2017, when ROW clearing began, ATC said, adding that clearing activities are anticipated to be complete in the fall.

Discussing permits, the company noted that the “Incidental Take Authorization” was issued for the project on Oct. 20, 2017, while the USFWS has issued a “Biological Opinion” to the USACE, which issued an individual permit and decision memo for the project on Nov. 22, 2017.

Of the transmission line portion of the project, the company said that detailed design activities continue, and that transmission line construction is scheduled to begin with the installation of dead end structure foundations in September. Vegetation management activities began, the company said.

In addition, detailed design activities on the substation aspect of the project will begin early this year, ATC said.

As TransmissionHub reported, the commission on Sept. 11, 2017, told ATC that the company’s request for an extension of time to begin construction on the Boscobel to Lone Rock project is granted.

“Order Condition 17 of the above-stated final decision is revised to require starting date for the subject project by June 1, 2018,” the commission said. “All other conditions of the commission’s September 17, 2016, final decision remain unchanged.”

ATC, in an Aug. 30, 2017, filing made with the commission, requested an extension until June 2018 to begin construction on the project.

As noted in that filing, the commission granted to ATC a certificate of authority, effective Sept. 17, 2016, to rebuild its 69-kV transmission line between the Boscobel and Lone Rock substations. Condition 17 of the order granting the certificate requires ATC to request an extension and receive approval if construction will not begin within one year of the effective date of the order, the company noted.

ATC said that as described in its application and the commission’s order, the company intended to begin construction in June by starting right of way (ROW) clearing activities. The company added in its filing that it intended to begin construction in late 2017, or early 2018 with ROW clearing.

The requested extension would allow additional time for permitting and easement acquisition, and would better align ROW clearing activities with Order Condition 12, which requires the company to consider modifying its schedule to perform vegetation management activities during winter months when vegetation is dormant, to mitigate impacts.

The company added that the requested extension would not impact the approved project cost or change the planned December 2019 in-service date.

The commission, in its September 2016 final decision, granted, subject to conditions, ATC’s application for authority to rebuild about 25 miles of the existing 69-kV transmission line between the existing Boscobel substation in the city of Boscobel, Grant County, and the Lone Rock substation in the town of Buena Vista, Richland County.

Other than rerouting the line in two segments for a total distance of about nine miles, the existing line will be rebuilt within its existing ROW, the commission said in its decision.

The operating voltage of the line will remain at 69 kV, the commission said. ATC proposes to rebuild about 25 miles of the existing 27.6-mile line, the commission said, adding that the company and its predecessor transmission owner have performed maintenance rebuilding on the remaining 2.6 miles of the line during the past 20 to 30 years. On that section of the line, ATC proposes to selectively replace additional facilities following regular maintenance inspections, the commission said.

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Corina Rivera-Linares, chief analyst for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 10 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at .

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