ATC to spend up to $3.6bn on transmission infrastructure by 2022

American Transmission Company (ATC) will spend between $3bn to $3.6bn on transmission system improvements comprising more than 70 projects, according to its 10-year assessment released Oct. 3.

That amount compares to the $3.9bn to $4.8bn the company said it would spend between 2012 and 2021 in its 10-year assessment released in October 2012.

The 2013-2022 expenditures include $1.2bn in improvements and additions to the transmission network, $1.1bn in maintenance and $500m in regional projects. Other capital projects range in cost from $200m to $800m over the 2013-2022 period, the company said.

As regional planning efforts evolve and become more sophisticated, the economic benefits of transmission improvements become more evident, ATC said in the report.

“For the last three years, for every dollar we’ve spent in transmission investment, 99 cents of that dollar has been paid for by reduced congestion charges,” John Flynn, executive vice president of strategic planning and project development, said in a statement accompanying the release of the report. “I think that’s a powerful statement and it leads us into a different kind of conversation around transmission. It’s not just investment, it’s not just something our customers have to pay for; it’s an investment that brings reliability and economic benefits for our consumers.”

According to the report, the company has invested $2.8bn in transmission infrastructure since 2001. That includes upgrading more than 1,748 miles of line, improving 161 substations and building 589 miles of transmission line.

Since the last assessment was released in October 2012, ATC has completed eight projects in Zones 2 and 3, including the Rockdale to West Middleton 345-kV project. 

Project updates 

ATC and Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) plan to file an application with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin for the La Crosse-Madison transmission line, also known as the Badger Coulee line, this fall. In August, the companies said the line may result in up to $841m of economic benefits over 40 years.

For the Bay Lake project, ATC will file for approval of the Michigan facilities in the fall, and for the Wisconsin facilities in 1Q14, the company said.

Recommendations by zone

ATC broke down the recommended network and asset renewal projects by zone. Across its five zones, the company expects modest population, employment and demand growth. The greatest amount of electric load is projected to be 1.4% in southeast Wisconsin (Zone 5).

North Central Wisconsin (Zone 1)

Population and employment are expected to grow 0.6% and 1%, respectively, on an annual basis, and electric load is projected to increase 0.57% annually over the 10-year period. Primary demand comes from paper mills and food processing plants.

In the southern portion of Zone 1, the main performance issues include low voltages and thermal overloads, which will require a “combination of reinforcements,” the company said. The northern portion of Zone 1 also experiences voltages and thermal limitations, but the most severe limitations occur during off-peak periods.

ATC has planned 16 reliability and economic projects between 2013 and 2027 in Zone 1. Of these, eight are related to the company’s new Study-Based Ratings Methodology and are in various stages of development. The company has not implemented any projects since the 2012 assessment.

The most notable planned project, including in-service date, is:

  • The planned 161-kV Monroe County-Council Creek line

The most notable provisional projects, include in-service dates, are:

  • The provisional 69-kV Fairwater-Mackford Prairie line, 2018
  • The provisional 115-kV Bunker Hill to Black Brook rebuild, 2019

The most notable asset renewal project, including in-service dates, are:

  • The Montello-Wautoma 69-kV rebuild, 2015
  • McKenna-Lincoln Pumping 69-kV rebuild, 2018
  • Castle Rock-Mckenna 69-kV rebuild, 2019
  • Plover-Whiting 115-kV rebuild, 2019
  • Chaffee Creek-Wautoma 69-kV rebuild, 2019
  • Coyne-Saratoga 115-kV partial rebuild, 2020
  • Wautoma-Harrison 69-kV rebuild, 2020
  • Lincoln Pumping-Chaffee Creek 69-kV rebuild, 2021
  • West Wisconsin Rapids-Sigel 69-kV rebuild, 2021

Upper Peninsula and Northern Wisconsin (Zone 2) 

Zone 2 is expected to see less annual population growth and employment than Zone 1 over the 10-year period, or 0.4% and 0.8%, respectively, according to the report. Electric load is projected to increase 0.55% annually through 2022.

The zone’s largest electricity users are ore mining and paper mills, and ATC noted that locally generated electricity, whether owned by industry, municipality or utility, is declining in the area, “with smaller, coal-fired generators most at risk.” 

ATC has planned 16 system reliability projects between 2013 and 2027, three of which are related to the Study-Based Rating Methodology and are in various stages of development.

The most notable planned projects, including in-service dates, are:

  • Atlantic-M38 69-kV line rebuild, 2013
  • Straits-Pine River 69‑kV double circuit rebuild, 2014
  • Mackinac 138‑kV substation; installation of a back-to-back HVDC flow control device, 2014
  • Chandler-Old Mead Road 138-kV double-circuit lines, 2014
  • Arnold 345-kV substation construction and 345/138-kV transformer, 2015

The most notable proposed projects, including in-service dates, are: 

  • Bay Lake: Holmes-Old Mead Road 138-kV project, 2017
  • Bay Lake: Benson Lake 138-kV substation; Installation of SVC, 2017

The most notable provisional projects, including in-service dates, are:

  • Munising-Seney-Blaney Park 69-kV line uprate, 2016
  • Victoria-Winona 69-kV line construction, 2019

The most notable asset renewal projects, including in-service dates, are:

  • Munising-Gwinn 69-kV line partial rebuild, 2013
  • Plains 138/69-kV transformer replacements, 2014
  • Rexton-Hiawatha 69-kV line partial rebuild, 2015
  • Conover-Mass 69-kV line partial rebuild, 2018
  • Powers-Chalk Hill 69-kV line partial rebuild, 2018

 

South Central/Southwest Wisconsin and North Central Illinois (Zone 3)

Steady growth in certain areas, new power plants, generation retirements and different generation dispatch scenarios are contributing to low voltages, high voltages and transmission-facility overloads, the latter taking place on 138-kV and 69-kV facilities, according to the report.

Electric load is expected to grow about 1.12% annually for the entire zone.

Since the 2012 assessment, ATC has implemented four network projects in the zone, including the Rockdale to Cardinal 345-kV project and the Nin Spring/Pflaum area line uprate.

ATC has identified 31 system reliability and economic projects in the zone between 2013 and 2027; of these 15 are driven by the Study-Based Rating Methodology, in various stages of development.

The most notable proposed projects, including in-service dates, are:

  • Sun Valley Tap-Oregon 69‑kV line rebuild, 2016
  • Badger Coulee: La Crosse area-North Madison-Cardinal, 2018
  • Spring Valley-North Lake Geneva 138‑kV line construction, 2019
  • Cardinal Bluffs: Dubuque County area-Cardinal 345-kV line construction, 2020

The most notable provisional projects, including in-service dates, are:

  • Colley Road-Brick Church 69‑kV line rebuild, 2018
  • Cardinal-Blount 138‑kV line construction, 2024
  • West Middleton-Pheasant Branch 69‑kV line rebuild, 2025

The most notable asset renewal projects, including in-service dates, are:

  • Doylestown-Rio Pumping Station 69‑kV line rebuild, 2013
  • Dam Heights-Portage 69‑kV line rebuild, 2016
  • Concord-Rubicon-Butler Ridge-Hartford 138‑kV line rebuild, 2016
  • Belmont-Rewey 69‑kV line rebuild, 2018
  • Boscobel-Lone Rock 69‑kV line rebuild, 2019
  • West Middleton-Stagecoach 69‑kV underground cable replacement, 2019
  • South Beaver Dam-Horicon 69-kV line rebuild, 2020

Northeast Wisconsin (Zone 4)

ATC identified low voltages in the Brown County area, with the most severe limitations taking place during off-peak periods. Peak electric demand typically occurs during the summer months, although the northern portion of the zone sees nearly equal summer and winter peaks, the company said in the report.

Some of the largest electricity users in the zone are paper mills and foundries in the Green Bay and Appleton metropolitan areas. Population and employment are expected to grow 0.8% and 1%, respectively, on an annual basis for the 2013-2022 period.

The most notable proposed projects, including in-service dates, are:

  • Pulliam-Glory Road 138-kV line conversion, 2016
  • Bay Lake: North Appleton-Morgan 345-kV and 138-kV line construction, 2017
  • Branch River 345-kV Substation construction, 2018

The most notable provisional projects, including in-service dates, are:

  • Shoto-Custer 138-kV line, 2022

The most notable asset renewal projects, including in-service dates, are:

  • North Appleton-Butte des Morts 138-kV line rebuild, 2014
  • Lost Dauphin-Glenview 69-kV line partial rebuild, 2014
  • North Appleton-Kewaunee 345‑kV line cross-arm replacement, 2015
  • Dyckesville-Sawyer 69‑kV line rebuild, 2016
  • First Avenue-Redwood 69‑kV submarine cable replacement, 2017
  • University-Danz Avenue 69‑kV underground cable replacement, 2018
  • Pulliam-Sobieski-Pioneer 69‑kV line rebuild, 2018
  • Oak Street-Highway V-Finger Road-Danz Ave 69‑kV line rebuild, 2018
  • Caldron Falls-Goodman 69‑kV line rebuild, 2019
  • Erdman-Lodestar 138‑kV underground cable replacement, 2019
  • Custer-New Holstein 69‑kV line rebuild, 2019
  • Wesmark-Manrap 69‑kV line rebuild, 2020
  • Finger Road-Canal 69‑kV line rebuild, 2020
  • Butte des Morts-Neevin-Woodenshoe-Mears Corners-Sunset Point 138‑kV line rebuild, 2020
  • Edgewater-Erdman 69‑kV underground cable replacement, 2021

Southeast Wisconsin (Zone 5)

The system in Zone 5 experiences heavy flows on aging facilities; heavy flows from Zone 3 to the west, resulting in heavily loaded 138-kV facilities in the western part of Zone 5; heavy market flows from and to the south, resulting in high 345-kV and 138-kV line loadings and the need to monitor potential multiple contingency conditions; and sagging voltage profiles in portions of Washington and Waukesha counties, ATC said in the report.

Population and employment are projected to grow 0.6% and 1%, respectively, on an annual basis until 2022. Electric load is projected to grow 1.4% over the 10-year period. Peak demand typically occurs during the summer months, the company said.

ATC’s current plans in Southeast Wisconsin include 24 system reliability and economic projects between 2013 and 2027, of which 17 are related to its Study-Based Ratings Methodology and are in various stages of development.

The most notable planned projects, including in-service dates, are:

  • Pleasant Prairie-Zion Energy Center 345‑kV line construction, 2013
  • Milwaukee County T-D 138‑kV lines, 2015

The most notable proposed projects, including in-service dates, are:

  • Arcadian-Waukesha 138‑kV line rebuilds, 2019
  • Spring Valley-North Lake Geneva 138‑kV line construction, 2019

The most notable provisional project, including in-service dates, is:

  • Arcadian 345/138‑kV transformer replacement, 2020

The most notable asset renewal projects, including in-service dates, are:

  • Concord-Cooney 138‑kV line rebuild, 2015
  • Waukesha-Merrill Hills 138‑kV line partial rebuild, 2016
  • St. Lawrence-Hartford 138‑kV line rebuild, 2016
  • Paris-Albers 138‑kV line rebuild, 2016
  • Merrill Hills-Summit 138‑kV line partial rebuild, 2017
  • Mukwonago-Edgewood-St. Martins 138‑kV line rebuild, 2017
  • Oak Creek-Hayes 138‑kV line rebuild, 2019
  • Summit-Cooney 138‑kV line rebuild, 2021
  • Paris-Burlington 138‑kV line rebuild, 2021
  • St. Lawrence-Barton-Auburn 138‑kV line rebuild, 2022
About Rosy Lum 525 Articles
Rosy Lum, Analyst for TransmissionHub, has been covering the U.S. energy industry since 2007. She began her career in energy journalism at SNL Financial, for which she established a New York news desk. She covered topics ranging from energy finance and renewable policies and incentives, to master limited partnerships and ETFs. Thereafter, she honed her energy and utility focus at the Financial Times' dealReporter, where she covered and broke oil and gas and utility mergers and acquisitions.