The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, at its July 26 open meeting, determined that it was in the public interest to approve the application of American Transmission Company (ATC) regarding the proposed Mount Pleasant Tech Interconnection Project.
As TransmissionHub reported, ATC in late January filed with the commission an application for a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN), seeking authority to build the new 345/138-kV Mount Pleasant substation in the village of Mount Pleasant in Racine County, and to build 345-kV transmission lines to interconnect with ATC’s existing 345-kV transmission network.
The project includes installation of new 138-kV underground cables from the new Mount Pleasant substation to a proposed new substation that would be owned by Foxconn Technology Group (Foxconn), according to the final environmental impact statement (EIS) prepared jointly by the commission and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which also noted that the Foxconn substation construction is not part of the proposed project.
ATC would build two new double-circuit 345kV transmission lines that would run east from the new Mount Pleasant substation to existing Line PLPL101 in the village of Mount Pleasant. The final EIS added that a new 345-kV circuit would be strung on the vacant east side of existing Line PLPL101, beginning at the existing Racine substation in the city of Racine, and extending about 12 miles south to the existing Pleasant Prairie switchyard in the village of Pleasant Prairie.
The existing Bain to Pleasant Prairie line (Line PLPL91) would be rerouted in the village of Pleasant Prairie entirely on Wisconsin Electric Power Company (WEPCO, doing business as We Energies) property. The final EIS also noted that two structures would be modified/replaced in order to uprate the existing Racine to Elm Road line (Line L-ERG91) in the village of Caledonia and the city of Racine, and two structures would be relocated/replaced as part of the Racine substation expansion in the city of Racine.
The majority of the new structures that make up the proposed project would be double-circuit steel monopole structures, both in areas of new right of way (ROW), and where structures would be replaced on Segment 2, the final EIS said. Structure heights would vary from 100 feet to 160 feet in above-ground height depending on the segment and site requirements. ROW width would also vary by segment, from 100 feet wide on Segment 3, to a total ROW width of 320 feet on Segment 4 or 5 to accommodate for two double-circuit structures parallel to each other, the final EIS said.
The project is estimated to cost between $117m and $120m based on the route selected, the final EIS said, adding that much of the project has common route corridors, as work would occur either on existing transmission lines and structures, or on property owned by ATC or WEPCO.
According to the minutes of the commission’s July 26 open meeting, the commission determined that:
- The proposed project will satisfy the reasonable needs of the public for an adequate supply of electric energy
- There are no Energy Priority Law alternatives that exist that are cost-effective, technically feasible, and environmentally sound alternatives to the proposed project
- The proposed project will not have a material adverse impact on competition in the relevant wholesale electric service market
- The proposed project will not unreasonably interfere with the orderly land use and development plans for the area involved
The commission also determined that the proposed route – the ATC-preferred route – which consists of Segments 1A, 1B, 2, 3, 4, and 6, is the authorized route.
The minutes further stated that in addition to the standard general conditions imposed on similar projects, additional conditions are to apply – that is, ATC is to:
- Work with the DNR Natural Heritage Conservation program to develop plans for plant surveys
- Communicate with landowners or renters of agricultural lands to discuss timing of construction schedules and agricultural activities to avoid damage to crop yields as possible, provided, however, that landowners provide ATC with contact information for the renters
- Work with landowners, to the extent practicable, regarding the placement of facilities on their properties, including the location of off-ROW access roads
- Obtain all necessary federal, state, and local permits for a construction spread prior to commencement of beginning construction. For the purposes of this condition, construction spread means any subpart or segment of the proposed project established by the applicant for the purposes of managing project construction
The commission determined that ATC’s estimated costs of the project – from $117.2m to $120.3m – are appropriate.
Among other things, the minutes also stated that the commission approved the project with the conditions and directed the Division of Energy Regulation to draft an order consistent with its discussion during the meeting.