Wisconsin Public Service gets approval for transmission line


By the OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON, Aug. 17, 2001 – Wisconsin Public Service Corp. got the go-ahead Friday from state regulators to build the Wisconsin portion of a proposed $200 million, 250-mile 345 kv transmission line, which Gov. Scott McCallum set as one of his energy priorities.

By a 3-0 vote, the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin approved construction of the Wausau-to-Duluth electric transmission line. The joint project of Minnesota Power, a unit of Allete Co., and Wisconsin Public Service a unit of WPS Resources Corp., Green Bay, Wis., was originally announced Apr. 15, 1999. The Minnesota portion of the project was approved in March.

The transmission line will permit electricity to be imported into Wisconsin and is the first step in improving the reliability of a fragile transmission system, according to Patrick Schrickel, president of Wisconsin Public Service, and Don Shippar, chief operating officer of Minnesota Power.

They said it’s difficult at the present time to import necessary power into Wisconsin and to move bulk amounts of power within the state to where it is needed. “During the past three summers, electric supply could not keep pace with demand, putting the integrity of the entire Midwest’s transmission system at risk,” Schrickel said.

“Customers expect electricity to be there when it’s needed, so we have to make sure the delivery system can fulfill that expectation.”

Conceding people along the route may not want a transmission line, they said the benefits outweigh the objections. About 50% of the proposed routes are on existing rights-of-way, while 20% are on public lands owned by the state, county, or local townships.

“Both companies fully intend to work with all private and public landowners who may be impacted by this project,” said Shippar.

Wisconsin Public Service serves 400,000 electricity and natural gas customers in a 19-county area in northeastern and central Wisconsin, and a portion of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Minnesota Power serves northeastern and central Minnesota.

Construction is expected to begin in 2002 and take 2-3 years to complete.

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