ATC submits application for Barnhardt-Branch River project in eastern Wis.

American Transmission Company (ATC) on Oct. 16 submitted its application to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) for a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) for the Barnhardt-Branch River electric reliability project in eastern Wisconsin.

The proposed project will consist of two new 20-acre substations to be built in Sheboygan County and Manitowoc County, interconnected by a new 345-kV transmission line, associated facilities, and possibly related 138-kV transmission lines, depending on the project alternative selected.

ATC’s preferred alternative is to convert an existing single-circuit 345-kV line to a double-circuit line by constructing a new 345-kV circuit along its 51-mile length, an ATC spokesperson told TransmissionHub Oct. 16. The preferred alternative, which would primarily use existing structures in an existing transmission line right-of-way, would displace a 138-kV transmission line, which would subsequently be replaced by a new, 18-mile 138-kV transmission line constructed on one of two route alternatives.

In its application, ATC said its preferred alternative “maximizes the use of existing ATC facilities, thereby minimizing new right-of-way required, associated environmental impacts, and project cost.”

The second alternative is to add a new 40-mile, 345-kV line primarily as a single-circuit line within new right-of-way (ROW), the spokesperson said.

Both alternatives would also require modest alterations to existing substations. Depending on the alternative selected, those alterations could include the addition of a 345-kV line termination at the Forest Junction substation, a small expansion of the fenced area at the Howards Grove substation to accommodate the new 138-kV line, and expansion of the Point Beach Substation to accommodate the addition of a 345-kV line breaker.

Because of the size of the project, ATC also must apply for permits and approvals from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in addition to the PSCW. ATC submitted its application to the DNR Aug. 31.

ATC says the project is needed to strengthen the ATC transmission system, increase operational flexibility in eastern Wisconsin, and remove operating restrictions on the Point Beach Nuclear Plant in Two Rivers, Wis., and Kewaunee Nuclear Power Station in Carlton, Wis.

Reconfiguring the area’s 345-kV transmission system would alleviate those operating restrictions, which exist under both normal and contingency conditions, ATC said in its application. The reconfiguration is necessary to assure reliable operation of the transmission system, ATC added.

The Point Beach Nuclear Plant is owned by NextEra Energy (NYSE:NEE), while the Kewaunee Power Station is owned by Dominion Resources (NYSE:D).

ATC estimates the total cost of the proposed project to be between $193m and $262m, depending on the project alternative, route and substation sites ordered by the PSCW.

ATC anticipates a decision from the PSCW in early 2014. If the proposed project is approved, depending on the alternative chosen by the PSCW, ATC expects to begin construction in 2015 and to have the project in service in 2018.