About ATC

Frequently Asked Questions

  • A rebuild of approximately 160 miles of existing electric power lines to add a new 345-kV high-voltage line from the ATC Columbia Substation in Columbia County north to the Arpin Substation in Wood County and west to the Xcel Energy Tremval Substation in Trempealeau County.
  • Expansion of the existing Arpin Substation.

Constraints on the electric grid, necessary reliability improvements, and access to lower-cost energy including renewable generation are all reasons for this project.

Our system planners evaluate several alternatives when determining the optimal solution that will meet the needs of the electric grid.

We work directly with the Midcontinent Independent System Operator – an independent, not-for-profit, member-based organization that manages the flow of high-voltage electricity across 15 U.S. states and the Canadian province of Manitoba – to help determine the viability, planning and interconnection design for this proposed project.

ATC is required to explore cost-effective options when proposing new high-voltage power lines, which is typically overhead construction. Construction, environmental issues, operational challenges and costs generally rule out underground power lines for most projects. Areas where overhead lines may not be feasible, such as near airports, may be evaluated for underground construction.

The PSCW is the regulatory agency that reviews and approves major utility projects in Wisconsin. ATC must submit an application for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, which generally includes all the documentation required for the PSCW and the WDNR to review the project and make a decision. The WDNR also fully participates in the review of the application. The PSCW will notify affected individuals when the review process has started and will schedule public hearings so community members may offer formal comments on the project. This review can take up to a year following the PSCW’s determination that the application is complete.

The estimated cost of this proposed project is approximately $1 billion (cost estimate by MISO in 2022 dollars). The cost of power line projects are paid for by utility consumers through their local utility electric bills. High-voltage infrastructure generally makes up approximately 8 to 13 percent of the monthly bill, which is shared across 5 million electric consumers in ATC’s service area. In Wisconsin, projects approved by MISO as an MVP historically equate between 13 to 16 percent of the overall project cost. The remainder of the cost is shared across the North and Central MISO regions, making regional grid projects – such as our Grid Forward – Central Wisconsin Project – an exceptional value for Wisconsin’s energy consumers.

We worked directly with MISO in a collaborative planning process to help determine the routes, viability, planning and interconnection design for this project. This project is included in MISO’s Long Range Transmission Plan and the routes will make extensive use of existing infrastructure corridors to help reduce the impact on local areas and communities.

The land needed for the utility corridor is determined by engineering requirements for safe clearances. We compensate landowners when an easement is needed on private property.

Incompatible or dense, woody vegetation within a high-voltage power line easement is removed to allow construction crews to work safely and to allow the power line to operate reliably and safely once it’s completed and placed in service. We will discuss any vegetation removal plans with landowners in advance.

Construction plans are included in our application to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin and finalized following project approval from the PSCW. Affected landowners will be notified in advance of construction activities with details associated with the work.

ATC works to minimize environmental impacts of construction, operation and maintenance and must comply with all laws that regulate activities that could significantly disturb birds, wildlife, wetlands and environmentally sensitive areas. During power line siting and design, ATC identifies sensitive areas and develops plans to reduce potential impacts where possible. These plans are identified in ATC’s regulatory application, which also is shared with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Each property is unique. There are many factors that influence property values and the presence of a power line would be just one of them. That’s why ATC hires a neutral third-party appraiser to assess what impact a power line may have on each property.

If the project is approved by the PSCW and your property is impacted by this project, an ATC real estate representative will be in contact with you to negotiate a proposed easement to build and maintain access to the line. The calculation of the amount of compensation for an easement incorporates the fair-market value of the landowner’s property and the easement rights required for the power line(s) on the property.

ATC has identified route options for the project substation. ATC’s application will be sent to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin in summer 2024. If the project is approved, the PSCW ultimately selects which route will be constructed.