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Transmission Line Project Gets Green Light in Wisconsin

Aug. 21, 2019
ATC, ITC Midwest and Dairyland Power Cooperative receive Wisconsin regulatory approval for the Cardinal-Hickory Creek Transmission Line Project.

Following years of public involvement and regulatory review, American Transmission Co., ITC Midwest and Dairyland Power Cooperative have received approval for the Cardinal-Hickory Creek Transmission Line Project from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. 

At its open meeting on Aug. 20, the three PSC commissioners verbally approved issuance of a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity and selected the route for the Wisconsin portion of the project. Additional regulatory approvals are required from the Iowa Utilities Board for the Iowa segment of the project, as well as federal agencies, including 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 approximately 100-mile, 345-kV transmission line is designed to electrically connect the Dubuque County, Iowa region to the Dane County, Wisconsin, region. The project also includes the construction of a new substation in Montfort, Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin regulatory review process required the co-applicants to propose two route options for the project. During the open meeting, the PSC commissioners selected the Applicants’ preferred route with some minor variations. The commissioners also determined the conditions the co-applicants must meet to construct the project. The written order containing these conditions for the project is expected to be issued by Sept. 30.

“We are pleased that the PSC has recognized the need for and benefits of this project,” says ITC Midwest Project Manager Aaron Curtis. “This project will help ensure electric reliability and provide access to lower-cost power and renewable energy for all-electric users in the region.”

“Dairyland’s cooperative members—and energy users across the region—depend on a reliable, safe transmission system,” said Ben Porath, Dairyland Vice President, Power Delivery. “The Cardinal-Hickory Creek line will help satisfy that essential need in a changing energy environment, while supporting renewable resources and delivering substantial benefits to Wisconsin in excess of the costs of the line.”

About 95 percent of the approximately 100-mile route that was selected uses existing utility and Interstate or U.S. highway corridors. The end points for the new transmission line are ITC Midwest’s Hickory Creek Substation in Dubuque County, Iowa, and ATC’s Cardinal Substation in the town of Middleton, Wisconsin. The estimated cost is $492 million.

As one of 17 Multi-Value Projects approved by the region’s Midcontinent Independent System Operator in 2011, the cost and benefits of Cardinal-Hickory Creek are distributed throughout the multi-state northern MISO region. About $66 to $72 million of the project’s costs will be allocated to Wisconsin ratepayers.

“Since we introduced this project in 2014, there has been a tremendous amount of public involvement. We sincerely appreciate the public’s constructive input prior to filing the project application, and during the state regulatory process,” says ATC Director of Environmental and Local Relations Greg Levesque. “We are pleased that in addition to the reliability and economic benefits, the PSC has also recognized the importance of this project as a way to support the changing energy mix in Wisconsin and across the Upper Midwest.”

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

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