Milwaukee County Supervisors’ chair supports undergrounding new power lines

The chairwoman of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors has added her voice to those calling for the undergrounding of a new 138-kV power line proposed as part of the Western Milwaukee County Electric Reliability Project (Docket No. 5-CE-139).

In her letter that the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) received Sept. 17, Marina Dimitrijevic said she has long supported underground lines and cited a resolution passed earlier in the year by the County Board that supported the City of Milwaukee and its opposition to overhead lines on 95th Street.

“The construction of overhead power lines along 95th Street could have a negative impact on the aesthetic beauty of the neighborhood, and the removal of a portion of natural wetland forest would be necessary to complete the project,” she wrote. “The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors continues to urge that the power lines be constructed underground.”

Dimitrijevic joins Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, Milwaukee Mayor Thomas Barrett, Milwaukee Alderman Michael Murphy, We Energies’ CEO Gale Klappa, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, the head of the Milwaukee Montessori School, local civic leaders, and numerous individuals in urging the PSC to give serious consideration an underground alignment for the north-south line.

Klappa, Milwaukee’s mayor, and the alderman co-signed a letter July 30 supporting an underground alignment for the line that would serve the rapidly growing County Grounds area of Wauwatosa. The area is home to the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center.

In the letter, Klappa said We Energies had evaluated three potential underground routes east of Hwy. 45 for the proposed new power line, believes the three routes are feasible from an engineering perspective, and are cost-effective underground solutions for the highly urbanized area. Referring to them as reasonable alternatives for the commission to consider, the letter’s three signatories recommended that an underground routes be selected for the proposed 138-kV power line.

We Energies does not have a recommendation on the east-west line, and none is contemplated, the utility told TransmissionHub previously.

Two routes are proposed for the east-west line, which would extend from a new Milwaukee County substation to existing American Transmission Company (ATC) lines less than two miles to the west. Route A is the Walnut Road alignment, while Route B follows Watertown Plank Road and Underwood Creek Parkway.

State regulators are expected to hold hearings on the project in November and decide early next year whether the lines are needed. The PSCW would then select routes for the two lines and decide whether they should be built underground.

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.

We Energies is a subsidiary of Wisconsin Energy (NYSE:WEC).