We Energies and Milwaukee County, Wis. at impasse over substation land

Wisconsin Electric Power Company d/b/a We Energies is at an impasse with Milwaukee County, Wis., over access to the site of a substation proposed as part of the Western Milwaukee County Electric Reliability project.

The disclosure was contained in a recently released transcript of a May 9 prehearing conference before Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Michael Newmark.

In that transcript, Catherine Phillips, We Energies’ legal counsel, told Newmark, “We’re at an impasse with the county on getting access to that [substation] property to do some environmental testing.”

Phillips said that it is a parcel of property on which We Energies has an option “and it’s an option we wish to exercise, but we’re having some difficulty getting access to that.”

On July 2 We Energies, with the support of co-developer American Transmission Company,  requested that the July 13 deadline for filing direct testimony be pushed back 60 days because the company was “not prepared at this time to fully present our direct testimony as we continue our discussions with Milwaukee County regarding the proposed substation issue.” 

A spokesperson for the PSCW told TransmissionHub on July 6 that the utility and Milwaukee County were “working out some procedural issues” with regard to the site of the proposed substation.

We Energies’ request for a delay was granted on July 12.

The situation has not changed since the prehearing conference, a We Energies spokesperson told TransmissionHub on July 17, adding, “We have not accessed the land, but our discussions are continuing with the county for the possible purchase of that parcel.”

The question of why the county will not allow access to land on which We Energies has an option “is part of the discussion,” the spokesperson said.

Calls seeking comment from Milwaukee County officials were not immediately returned.

The transmission project consists of two 138-kV lines, each less than two miles long, which are needed to improve the reliability of the electric system that serves the rapidly growing County Grounds area of the county, according to the developers. The area includes the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center and the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

The PSC will determine the final routes for the two lines. ATC expects the PSC 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 transmission lines and ATC substation facilities are planned to be in service by March 2015. The cost of the project is estimated at $20m to $40m.