Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

City: No power lines on North Edwards

by Chris Schultz

March 20, 2014

Lake Geneva is protesting a proposal to build a power transmission line along the city’s side of Highway 12, along Edwards Boulevard.
The proposal is part of two alternative routes selected by the American Transmission Co. (ATC), Madison, for a new and upgraded electric transmission system to serve southern Walworth and western Kenosha counties.
Dan Winkler, Lake Geneva public works and utilities director, said the city spent hundreds of thousands of dollars burying utility lines along the newer section of Edwards Boulevard, which loops from the Target store plaza to Sheridan Springs Road.
That section of Edwards faces the small shopping mall centered on Target and the Home Depot just to the south.
Other open land is available for future commercial development.
Winkler and City Administrator Dennis Jordan took the city’s objections to ATC’s public meeting on March 12 at Hawk’s View Golf Course.
Rather, the city is suggesting that the transmission lines go to the other side of Highway 12.
“If you can flip that to the other side, you’ve got me on board,” Winkler told ATC representative Charlie Gonzales at the public meeting.
The proposed $80.6 million project is called the Spring Valley-North Lake Geneva Electric Reliability Project.
The final route for the new construction will have to be approved by the state Public Service Commission. ATC tentatively schedules construction to start in summer 2017, with the new transmission lines in service by 2019.
It will involve construction of a new 138-kilovolt transmission line about 25 miles from the North Lake Geneva Substation to the Spring Valley Substation in western Kenosha County.
The new lines will be held aloft by 80-foot-tall weathered steel poles. Except for being taller, the new transmission towers will look very much like the 60-foot-tall ATC transmission towers that already stand in Lake Geneva.
Also at the ATC public meeting was Nancy Russell, Walworth County Board chairwoman and county supervisor from Lake Geneva.
Russell said she would want to keep the transmission lines out of residential areas.
As part of the written communication to the ATC, included was a map showing a line proposed by Lake Geneva Mayor Jim Connors.
Connors proposed that the new line follow an existing route along Center Street to Main Street, then south along Wells to Town Line Road.
Connors said the proposed route is already used by ATC.
The 50-or 60-foot tall poles could be replaced by the 80 foot poles and most people wouldn’t be the wiser, according to ATC. Studies show the proposed new transmission line will improve the area’s electrical transmission system and meet a growing demand for power in the region.
ATC’s project map shows two alternative routes from the North Lake Geneva Substation to the Kenosha County line.
Alternative 1 follows Highway 50. Lake Geneva officials have expressed a preference for alternative 2 along Highway 12.
Also included in the proposed ATC project are:
n Construction of a new electric substation near Twin Lakes.
n Construction of a new 69-kilovolt transmission line that will connect the new substation to the existing substation in Twin Lakes.
n A rebuild of the existing 69-kilovolt transmission line from the Katzenberg Substation to the Twin Lakes Substation, along with other area maintenance work.
According to ATC, studies show that the project would strengthen the electric transmission system to meet a growing demand for power.
The company claims that the existing transmission system is vulnerable to low voltages and power outages. The improvements will provide for redundancy and improved equipment maintenance.
ATC was founded in 2001 as a multistate, transmission-only utility. The company’s sole focus is to transmit electricity from the generator to distribution substations, which are owned by the utility companies.
The link between the power generators and the service lines, which bring the power to the customers, are the high-voltage transmission lines that carry electricity over long distances.
ATC owns, operates and maintains nearly 9,440 miles of high-voltage transmission lines in Wisconsin, Illinois and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Electricity from transmission lines is reduced to lower voltages at a substation. ATC owns 519 substations in its power transmission service area.
ATC is a public utility. It’s customers are the electricity producers and electric distribution companies.
As a utility, ATC is required to operate the transmission system reliably; assess needs and and plan system upgrades to meet those needs in time and to maintain the transmission equipment to minimize failures.
ATC first announced its expansion and improve project in January 2013. Originally, five alternative routes were proposed.
Three of those routes have been stricken as alternatives so far. Study of the remaining two routes will continue through fall this year.
An environmental field review will be conducted this spring.
More open houses for public comment will be scheduled for February 2015.
Application for siting the new lines will be submitted to the PSC in Spring 2015, with PSC hearings to start in summer that year.
ATC anticipates receiving PSC permission to proceed on a defined route by summer 2016.
ATC will design the project and acquire construction easements in 2016 and 2017.
Construction is expected to start by summer 2017, with the new service on line by spring 2019.
Dates are subject to change.