Group restates support of underground lines in Wauwatosa

The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) told Wisconsin state regulators on Oct. 25 that it supports the undergrounding of two new power lines planned to serve the County Grounds area of Milwaukee County, Wis. (Docket No. 05-CE-139).

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) received a letter on Oct. 25, stating the association’s support for “the western route outlined in a resolution put forth by the city of Wauwatosa and supported by Gale Klappa, CEO of We Energies” along with the mayor of Wauwatosa, Wis., Kathleen Ehley, and Wauwatosa Common Council President Dennis McBride.

In July, Klappa and Milwaukee Mayor Thomas Barrett, and Milwaukee Alderman Michael Murphy sent a letter to the PSCW in support of burying the line that would come into the area along a northerly alignment.

While the MMAC had previously stated its support for burying the north-south line, its latest letter agreed with updated proposals to bury both lines.

“We acknowledge the additional cost of burying these power lines,” Steve Baas, the association’s vice president of government affairs, wrote. “However, we believe this additional investment is merited in this case to avoid the controversial community impacts overhead transmission lines would have on the impacted areas.”

While the routes proposed by American Transmission Company (ATC) include alignments that would place the north-south line completely underground, the company’s recommended routes for the east-west line are only partially underground.

The city of Wauwatosa has proposed a route for the east-west line that runs completely underground, from the point where it connects to an existing ATC powerline, to the new Milwaukee County substation proposed as part of the project.

ATC has not revised its recommended route for the east-west line, and reportedly has no plans to do so.

“We presented in our application a variety of [route] segments, and it’s up to the PSC[W] at this point to weigh all the options and ultimately decide if the project is approved and which routes would be taken,” an ATC spokesperson told TransmissionHub Oct. 29.

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 PSCW will determine the final routes for the two lines. ATC expects the PSCW 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 will build the necessary substation facilities, while ATC will build the transmission lines.

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