Wisconsin regulators to hold hearings on 345-kV line in October

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin will hold two public hearings in Beloit, Wis., on Oct. 19 regarding American Transmission Company’s (ATC) application to build a 345-kV transmission line, substation and related facilities from the existing 345-kV transmission system to interconnect a new electric generating facility, to be located in the Town of Beloit, Rock County, Wis., the commission said in an Aug. 30 notice.

One hearing will be for parties admitted to the proceeding, while the other one will be members of the public, the commission said.

According to an Aug. 31 scheduling order, the intervenors in the matter are Citizens Utility Board, Wisconsin Industrial Energy Group, and Wisconsin Power & Light.

According to the direct testimony on behalf of ATC and ATC Management of Paul Walter, manager of System Planning, Interconnections, and Special Studies for ATC Management, the project is needed to connect Wisconsin Power & Light’s (WPL) Riverside Energy Center Expansion (RECE) project – a new 700-MW natural gas combined cycle plant with an additional 2 MW solar energy facility – to ATC’s electric transmission system.

After WPL filed an interconnection request with the Midcontinent ISO (MISO) to interconnect the RECE project, MISO asked ATC to help conduct a System Impact Study (SIS) as part of its Definitive Planning Phase (DPP) study process, Walter said. That SIS identified the project as the best alternative for connecting the RECE project to ATC’s system, he said.

The commission, which has already determined that the RECE project is needed and in the public interest, has granted WPL a certificate of public convenience and necessity for its construction, Walter said. As approved by the commission, the RECE project is expected to be in service by late 2019, or early 2020, he said.

As noted in the direct testimony on behalf of ATC and ATC Management of Mark Sanzenbacher, senior project manager of ATC Management, the transmission project involves the construction of a new 345-kV substation – known as the Kittyhawk substation – in the Town of Beloit, and a new loop-in, loop-out 345-kV double-circuit line that would tap into an existing 345-kV line, Line W10, which runs parallel to Gesley Road, about four miles west of the proposed Kittyhawk substation.

WPL’s new Riverside Energy Center would tie in to the Kittyhawk substation, he said, adding that the loop out portion of the project would have the designation of Line W17. In addition, protective relay packages would be upgraded at the Paddock and Rockdale substations, and protective relay settings would be upgraded at the Rock River and Townline Road substations, Sanzenbacher said.

The project includes a new switching substation named Kittyhawk, which would be located on a 30-acre parcel that WPL currently owns on South Walters Road in the Town of Beloit in Rock County, he said. The substation would be built as a five-position breaker and a half-bus configuration to accommodate ATC’s two new 345-kV lines and WPL’s three 345-kV generator interconnection tie lines, he said. The substation would be located within a proposed fenced-in area of 6.2 acres, and would be designed to account for future expansions, which, if built, should also be able to fit within the existing WPL-owned parcel, he noted, adding that ATC would operate the new substation.

ATC would upgrade protective relay packages at the remote ends of the project, and would update relay settings at the Rock River and Townline Road substations to improve clearing times, he said.

The total project cost estimates range from about $41m to $43m, Sanzenbacher said.

He also noted that the proposed construction schedule for the project calls for right of way (ROW) clearing activities, as well as substation construction, to start in July 2018; transmission line construction to start in August 2018; and for the project to be in service in April 2019.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, in a draft agricultural impact statement, which was received by the commission on Aug. 29, noted that the 345-kV double-circuit electric transmission line, if approved, would be built primarily along one of two routes – an ATC preferred route or an ATC alternative route in the Town of Beloit. ATC has also reviewed a third route, which combines the preferred route and alternative route (referred to as the ATC preferred variation route), the department said, adding that the routes are about 4.5 miles long.

The project would require a 150-foot-wide ROW for most of the route segments, as well as easements of between 63 and 64 acres of farmland, mostly cropland, the department said.

The department noted that having reviewed the materials provided by ATC and comments from property owners, it does not recommend a specific route due to the similarity of impacts between routes. The department listed various recommendations to the PSC, ATC, and agricultural property owners to mitigate impacts to farmland and farm operations.

Under recommendations to the commission, the department noted, for instance, that a number of acres of farmland in the area are operated by renters. To mitigate impacts to farmland and farm operations, the department said that it recommends that ATC ensure that renters of agricultural land, as well as farm owners affected by the proposed project be kept up to date and informed of construction schedules, as well as potential impacts, so that farm activities can be adjusted accordingly.

Under recommendations to ATC, the department said that the company should, among other things, consult with affected farmland owners to determine the least damaging locations for transmission structures.

Under recommendations to agricultural property owners, the department said, for instance, that landowners should examine the language of any easement contract carefully and verify that it contains all agreed-to terms.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3286 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares was TransmissionHub’s chief editor until August 2021, as well as part of the team that established TransmissionHub in 2011. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial from 2005 to 2011. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines.