Wisconsin PSC staff support We Energies request for extension in Wauwatosa power project

Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) staff said it has no objection to Wisconsin Electric’s (d/b/a We Energies) request for a 60-day extension of the deadline to file direct testimony regarding the proposed Western Milwaukee County Electric Reliability Project (Docket No. 5-CE-139).

A July 9 e-mail from the PSC’s assistant general counsel to PSC Administrative Law Judge Michael Newmark and other interested parties also said staff proposed “actual dates to the parties for their agreement and potential avoidance of a status conference.”

PSC staff’s proposal also included revised testimony and briefing schedules that delay milestones in the case by approximately 60 days. The e-mail referred to the briefing schedule as “a critical factor” in the PSC’s deciding of the case before the automatic grant date, which has been extended from Oct. 1, to March 30, 2013.

On July 2, We Energies’ legal counsel asked the PSC for a 60-day extension of the deadline to submit direct testimony, saying 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.”

The deadline for filing direct testimony specified in Newmark’s prehearing conference memorandum was July 13, with a hearing set for Sept. 19.

In the days since We Energies’ request, which it made with the support of co-developer American Transmission Company (ATC), several parties have advised the PSC they do not object to the delay, a spokesperson for the PSC told TransmissionHub on July10.

It was still unclear whether Newmark will have to issue a formal ruling on the request or whether it will be deemed approved after a fixed amount of time passes, the spokesperson said.

The 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. 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.