PSC: Wisconsin ahead of other states in transmission investments

Multiple transmission line projects in Wisconsin should be in the construction phase by 2020, including ATC’s 345/138-kV North Appleton to Morgan line

Wisconsin expects up to $552 million of investment in its transmission system by 2020, according to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin’s (PSCW) draft copy of the technical document, Strategic Energy Assessment 2020, which was published in May.

PSCW provided transmission and winter and summer peak information in the technical report, according to TransmissionHub.


American Transmission Co. (ATC), the largest electricity provider in Wisconsin, Dairyland Power Cooperative and Northern States Power Co.-Wisconsin provided information to the commission on projects that should be in the construction phase by 2020.

If approved by the commission, two large scale 345-kV transmission line projects are expected to be constructed by 2020, Badger Coulee transmission line project and Dubuque County to Cardinal transmission line project, both of which are sponsored by ATC.

The Badger Coulee project entails building a 160 to 180-mile line from La Crosse County to the North Madison substation in Vienna, Wis., and ends at the Cardinal substation in Middleton, Wis., and the Dubuque County to Cardinal project entails building a 136-mile line from Northern Iowa County, Iowa to Dane County, Wis.

As TransmissionHub previously reported, despite some earlier opposition from Reedsburg city officials and public opinion, and a request for more information from the commission in November 2013, ATC still expects to receive a positive response from the commission in 2015 and start construction of the Badger Coulee line in 2016.

Likewise, despite an ownership battle between ITC Midwest, a unit of ITC Holdings, and ATC over the Dubuque County to Cardinal project, the transmission line is expected to be in service by 2020.

Wisconsin remains ahead of other states, with respect to generation and transmission facility investments in order to meet future energy demands.

With regard to other transmission projects, ATC’s 345/138-kV North Appleton–Morgan line, 138-kV Spring Valley–North Lake Geneva line, 345-kV Cardinal–North Madison–Briggs Road line, 138-kV Creekview–Circuit X-96 or Circuit X-97 line, and 345-kV Branch River–Circuit 111 or Circuit 121 line should begin construction, if approved, by 2020.

The smallest of the projects is the Branch River project, which has an estimated cost of $6m, and is 1.5 miles long. The largest of the projects is the Cardinal–North Madison–Briggs Road project, which has an estimated cost of $552 million, and an estimated length of 160 to 180 miles.

For Dairyland Power Cooperative, construction of three 131-kV projects should begin by 2020, including the Briggs Road–Marshland, Alma–Cap X, and LaCrosse–Briggs Road projects.

Alma–Cap X is the smallest of the projects with an estimated cost of $1.2 million; the line will run 0.94 miles. Likewise, the Briggs Road–Marshland project is the largest with a $13 million cost estimate; the line will run 13.3 miles.

With regard to the Northern States Power Company-Wisconsin, new projects are underway that should be in the construction phase by 2020, including the 115/88-kV Bay Front–Iron Wood, 115-kV Iron River–Bay Front and Jim Falls–Hydro Lane projects.

The lengths of these lines range from 8 miles, the Jim Falls–Hydro Lane project, to 70 miles, the Iron River–Bay Front project.

In conjunction, the costs for these projects range from $7.5 million, Jim Falls–Hydro Lane project, to $55 million, Iron River–Bay Front project.

With regard to Wisconsin’s electric supply, “adequacy and reliability are expected to remain satisfactory with an acceptable planning reserve margin forecast through 2020,” according to the technical report.

Retirements that are affiliated with various Environmental Protection Act (EPA) air and water quality rules do not mandate large-scale closings of fossil fuel plants in Wisconsin and other states.

Some load-serving entities in Wisconsin should be entering into generation plans of producing an additional 200 MW to 600 MW of energy beginning in 2016 and ending in 2019.

The Wisconsin transmission system should be able to transmit and deliver energy to consumers without a large amount of congestion in the lines or power losses.

With regard to generation and transmission peak study conditions, the winter peak declined from 2003 until early 2014, when a new peak was reached because of unusually cold weather. Winter peaks are studied during the months of December, January and February.

The January 2014 winter peak for ATC was 1,000 MW more than the winter peak in 2013, and the winter peak is typically 80 percent to 90 percent of the summer peak for Wisconsin utilities.

The summer peak for ATC has fluctuated since 2003. However, the peaks remain quite linear. For example, in June, ATC produced between 12,000 and 13,000 MW of energy.

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