ESCANABA - The American Transmission Company (ATC), of De Pere, Wis., will be hosting an open house in Escanaba Tuesday to discuss a new proposed electrical transmission line and substation project.
The open house will be held at Peninsula Bay Inn from 1 to 7 p.m. Tuesday to discuss ATC's potential Bay Lake project, which would affect many parts of the U.P. and northeast Wisconsin.
Bay Lake is in its early stages, with open house events planned throughout the U.P. and Wisconsin to solicit input from landowners living on or adjacent to potential transmission routes.
"The Bay Lake project includes a brand-new substation that needs to be located down in the Green Bay area," explained ATC Communications Consultant Jackie Olson. "We're going to build a new 345-kilovolt line from the Green Bay area to the National Substation just outside of Ishpeming. The project also includes a 138-kV line from Green Bay up to our existing Morgan Substation (near Oconto Falls, Wis.). Then it's got the two transmission lines outside of our Holmes Substation in Menominee County, Mich., bringing those two 138-kV lines over to the Escanaba area."
The two lines from Menominee County to Escanaba will run approximately 60 miles, while the lines from Green Bay to Ishpeming and Green Bay to the Oconto Falls, Wis., area, will total 175 miles and 40 miles, respectively.
Preliminary cost of the facilities is estimated to be between $470-705 million for the 345-kV project, and between $125-190 million for the 138-kV projects.
Escanaba's Chandler Substation and upcoming Old Mead Road Substation, part of the Chandler-Old Mead Road (formerly the Chandler-18th Road) project, will serve as endpoints for the two 138-kV lines through the Bay Lake project.
Chandler-Old Mead Road is an upcoming, approximate seven-mile transmission line that will run from the current Chandler Substation to a new Old Mead Road Substation on NewPage property - a project proposed strictly for local reliability concerns.
Construction for Chandler-Mead Road is expected to begin in July 2013.
"It's very likely this is going to be a double circuit line, at least initially, coming out of the Holmes Substation (in Menominee County), and somewhere along these routes the lines are probably going to diverge. One's going to come into Escanaba from the south and go into that new Old Mead Road Substation and the other one coming into the Chandler Substation," Olson explained.
Currently there are many potential corridors from point A to point B, each representing a 3,000 foot wide corridor. This provides more flexibility when working around obstacles.
Olson said the priority when looking for potential routes is to follow existing linear features, such as existing transmission lines, gas pipelines, highways, railroads, or recreation trails.
"We are collecting public input from these open houses. All of these public comments will be incorporated as part of the record and submitted with our regulatory applications, which we'll be filing both with Wisconsin and in Michigan."
ATC will also collect more data and analysis this summer, coming to the area for a second round of open houses to discuss preliminary routes in October.
"We'll probably only have about three to five options then in each study area and those corridors will be narrowed down to 300 feet," explained Olson. "Ultimately the goal is to get a minimum of two routes that we would submit to each of the public service commissions."
The reinforcements to the electric transmission grid in the area is needed due to a combination of factors such as reliability concerns, generation changes, changes in demand and the evolution of a wholesale electricity market, according to an overview of the project.
In the northern region of the ATC system, the majority of the system runs continuously, making it difficult to take transmission components out of service for maintenance.
ATC expects to file applications to build the lines with Michigan and Wisconsin regulators in late 2013 and early 2014. If approved, the project would be the largest ATC has undertaken. Construction would start in 2015 with an in-service date of late 2016.
ATC was formed in 2001 as the nation's first multi-state transmission-only utility company. It has assets totaling $3.1 billion, including 9,440 circuit miles of transmission line and 519 substations that are either wholly or jointly owned.