ATC files application for two 138-kV new lines in western Milwaukee County, Wisc.

American Transmission Company (ATC) on Feb. 27 filed its application for a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) for two 138-kV transmission lines in western Milwaukee County, Wisc.

The company said the two planned lines, each less than two miles long, are needed to improve the reliability of the electric system that serves an area of the county that includes the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center and the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Demand in the area is expected to double as soon as 2016, ATC said in a statement. 

ATC’s proposed routes for the eastern line, which would run from an existing substation to the new substation to be built north of the medical facilities, includes options that would allow it to be placed completely underground.  However, the proposed routes for the northern line have significant portions above ground, including one alignment along Underwood Creek Parkway.

In the months leading up to the filing community members, including an alderman for the city of Wauwatosa, Wisc. who spoke with TransmissionHub, pressed for the lines to be buried instead of placed overhead.

“We’ve never had power lines going down parkways before,” fourth district alderman Dennis McBride told TransmissionHub in a Jan. 17 interview. “Once you start putting overhead power lines – or any power lines – through natural areas like that, you’re going to diminish the environmental quality of the area and you’re going to diminish the aesthetic values and lower the property values of adjacent properties by a considerable amount.”

An ATC spokesperson said the company understands the concerns.

“There are challenges on every route that we studied and there are challenges on every route that we proposed because there are impacts in this highly-congested urban area,” and ATC spokesperson told TransmissionHub on Feb. 28. “What we’re trying to do in proposing these final four route options is present the route options that we consider balance all the impacts.”

It will be up to the PSCW to determine the final routes for the two lines.

ATC expects the PSCW to take as long as a year to review the project application, hold public and technical hearings, and do a detailed analysis before rendering a decision.

If the proposed project is approved, ATC could begin construction as early as the spring of 2013, which would enable it to coordinate with a major Wisconsin Department of Transportation highway construction in the project area.

The transmission lines and ATC substation facilities are planned to be placed in service by March 2015. Cost of the project is estimated at $20m to $40m.