County supervisor says Wauwatosa, Wis., line should be buried

The Milwaukee county supervisor who represents Wauwatosa, Wis., restated his opposition to building an overhead construction line as part of the Western Milwaukee County Electric Reliability Project (Docket No. 5-CE139).

In comments filed with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) on April 16, 19th district supervisor Jim “Luigi” Schmitt restated many of the points included in a resolution that was signed on Feb. 17, mainly that the lines should be sited underground (Res. 12-134).

“We should not being using our parks and parkways for transmission line avenues,” Schmitt told TransmissionHub on April 16, adding that residents of the area want to maintain the neighborhood’s quality of life, avoid disrupting the area’s aesthetic value, and protect existing wildlife.

“From the perspective of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, construction of an electric transmission line along Underwood Parkway would set a negative precedent for the entire Parkway and Oak Leaf Trail systems that are not currently marred by high voltage transmission lines,” Schmitt wrote in his public comment.

Schmitt said the position is in step with a variety of neighborhood organizations, environmental groups, and electric customers in the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center that would benefit from the new lines. He also said his constituents understand that undergrounding the lines will come at a higher cost than building overhead lines.

“Cheapest isn’t always the best,” Schmitt said. “There is the quality of neighborhoods, there’s the safety factors, the environmental factors. I think those are all strong arguments” for placing the lines underground.

The project, proposed by We Energies and the American Transmission Company (ATC) consists of the two 138-kV lines, each less than two miles long, which 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.

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.

The public comment period for the project closes July 1.

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.