After more than five years of public involvement and regulatory review, the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin verbally approved a vital addition to Dane County’s electric transmission system. American Transmission Co. will build a new 32-mi, 345-kV electric transmission line through Dane County between the towns of Middleton and Christiana along a route that generally follows the Beltline and existing rights of way, and does not include placing the line underground.
“We are pleased that the PSC agreed with our assessment of this much-needed transmission line,” said Sarah Justus, ATC local relations manager. “This is a critically important project for the Dane County region. This regulatory approval is good news for homeowners, businesses and industries that depend upon a reliable electric system.”
ATC first identified the need for the project in 2002. In 2003, the project need was independently reviewed by the Energy Initiative, a group of Wisconsin utilities, public advocacy organizations, environmental groups and local stakeholders. The group evaluated the need for new electric transmission lines and the feasibility of alternatives in meeting Dane County’s present and future electric needs.
Before filing an application with the PSC in October 2007, ATC conducted extensive public outreach. “Over a five-year period we hosted 22 open houses attended by more than 3,300 people, and regularly corresponded with more than 13,000 Dane County residents, businesses and other stakeholders in an effort to address public concerns,” says Justus. “We appreciate the involvement of the public in helping to shape the decisions related to this project, and we are committed to keeping this dialogue open as we move forward.”
In discussing the Rockdale-West Middleton transmission line, the PSC asked ATC for design changes at locations along the route including near the Arboretum, Odana Hills Golf Course and the area near High Point Road. These design changes add approximately $1.2 million to the cost of the project, which is now at just over $215 million.
With receipt of the PSC’s approval, the next steps include ATC conducting detailed engineering and easement acquisition. “We will continue to communicate with affected landowners throughout this process, both by mail and by hosting information meetings as we begin construction,” says Justus.
Construction on the project is expected to begin in summer 2011, and the line is expected to be in service in 2013.