We Energies chooses alternate site for substation in Wauwatosa project

After several months of unsuccessful negotiations with Milwaukee County over who would pay the costs of any clean-up that might have been required on the parcel of county land where Wisconsin Electric (d/b/a We Energies) had proposed building a new substation, the utility has chosen an alternate site for the substation.

In a revised application filed with the Public Utility Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) Aug. 29, the utility said it had “not secured the site for the original location of the substation and therefore have relocated the substation on Wisconsin Electric-owned property adjacent to the Milwaukee County Power Plant.”

The 2.3-acre substation, to be located a few hundred yards from the original site, is part of the Western Milwaukee County Reliability Project.

The two sides began negotiating this spring over the potential costs of any clean up that might have been required at the site.

We Energies was interested in seeing what is underneath the surface to determine if there are any issues but wanted the county to accept liability for any clean up, a Milwaukee County spokesperson told TransmissionHub in July. The county countered that it would have been the utility’s digging that would expose any environmental concerns that may exist, so the utility should be liable for any clean up that may be needed.

On July 2, We Energies advised the administrative law judge (ALJ) for the case that 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.”

We Energies’ request for a delay was granted on July 12, when it was directed to inform the commission staff of the substation location and associated analysis no later than Aug. 29.

Moving the site to land already owned by the utility reduces the total estimated project cost by $183,000. Wisconsin Electric now estimates its portion of the project cost will be $10.8m.

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 transmission lines. Project co-developer American Transmission Company (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 total cost of the project is estimated to range from $20m to $40m.