ATC: Wisconsin regulators approve estimated $492m, 345-kV line

Additional regulatory approvals are required from the Iowa Utilities Board for the Iowa segment of the project, as well as from such federal agencies as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, for permission for the line to cross the Mississippi River, ATC said

American Transmission Company (ATC) on Aug. 20 said that it, ITC Midwest, and Dairyland Power Cooperative – collectively referred to as the applicants – have received approval for the estimated $492m, 345-kV Cardinal-Hickory Creek Transmission Line Project from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin.

The state commissioners, at their Aug. 20 open meeting, verbally approved issuance of a certificate of public convenience and necessity, and selected the route for the Wisconsin portion of the project, according to ATC, which also noted that the commission’s final order will be issued by Sept. 30.

Additional regulatory approvals are required from the Iowa Utilities Board for the Iowa segment of the project, as well as from such federal agencies as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, for permission for the line to cross the Mississippi River, the company said.

The approximately 100-mile line is designed to electrically connect the Dubuque County, Iowa region to the Dane County, Wis., region, ATC said, adding that the project also includes construction of a new substation in Montfort, Wis.

The Wisconsin commissioners selected the applicants’ preferred route with some minor variations, ATC said, noting that the written order will contain the conditions that the commissioners determined must be met in order to build the project. ATC said that about 95% of the line’s route that was selected uses existing utility and interstate or U.S. highway corridors. The company noted that the end points for the new line are ITC Midwest’s Hickory Creek substation in Dubuque County and ATC’s Cardinal substation in the town of Middleton, Wis.

ATC said that as one of the 17 Multi-Value Projects approved in 2011 by the Midcontinent ISO (MISO), the project’s cost and benefits are distributed throughout the multi-state northern MISO region, with about $66m to $72m of the project’s costs to be allocated to Wisconsin ratepayers.

ATC said that it, ITC Midwest, and Dairyland Power Cooperative will begin contacting Wisconsin property owners along the route beginning this fall, with construction expected to begin in 2021 in order to meet an in-service date of 2023, if final approval is granted by Iowa regulators and the federal agencies.

As TransmissionHub reported, according to the project’s final environmental impact statement (EIS), ATC, ITC Midwest, and Dairyland Power Cooperative in April 2018 filed an application with the commission for approval to build the project. If approved, ATC would own 45.5% of the project, ITC would own 45.5%, and Dairyland Power Cooperative would own 9%.

The final EIS added that the project also includes construction of a new intermediate Hill Valley substation in Grant County, as well as various modifications at substations in northeast Iowa and southwest Wisconsin, including the Hickory Creek, Turkey River, Stoneman, Nelson Dewey, Eden, Wyoming Valley, and Cardinal substations.

Discussing the need for the project, the final EIS said that the applicants’ stated purposes for the project include to provide economic benefits to Wisconsin customers; avoid the expenditure on reliability and asset renewal projects that would be needed if the project were not built; as well as increase the transfer capability of the electric system between northeastern Iowa and southwest and southcentral Wisconsin, ease congestion, and improve generator competition.