American Transmission Co. has identified various new high-voltage transmission line projects that can help deliver renewable energy while also addressing reliability issues in the Midwest.

One potential project, an approximate 150-mile 345-kV line between La Crosse and Madison in western Wisconsin, is anticipated to provide multiple benefits and address needs identified in other regional planning studies. ATC has begun coordinating with the Minnesota CapX2020 group, which is proposing a 345-kV line from Minneapolis/St. Paul into La Crosse that would need to connect to ATC’s transmission system at that point. ATC also is studying the benefits of a 345-kV line from Madison south to Dubuque, Iowa, and a 345-kV line from Wisconsin’s Fox River Valley (Green Bay and Appleton areas) north and south along Lake Michigan. ATC’s studies also will examine the viability of voltage levels at 765 kV.

Each of these projects could potentially help meet the Upper Midwest Transmission Development Initiative objective for interconnecting more renewable resources to help meet state, regional and national policy goals. UMTDI is the five-state group including Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota, which formed last year to identify how together they could meet their individual renewable energy goals and site and pay for the needed transmission infrastructure.

John Procario, ATC chief executive officer, said, “We’ve been studying the La Crosse – Madison line since last year, and it appears needed to move wind associated with UMTDI state renewable portfolio standards. But beyond that, La Crosse – Madison is showing economic benefits for ATC customers, and it further solves a number of regional and local reliability issues including in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area and western Wisconsin. And that’s why we are pursuing the development of this line further. We develop and examine best-value projects that resolve multiple system issues that also can help states and the region meet their policy goals.”

Procario said, “Within the next number of months, ATC will be actively engaged in public outreach on one or more of these projects. As has been our practice, this will be a stakeholder-driven process involving our customers, landowners, local officials and any others interested in engaging in the discussion about needs, routing and siting.”

ATC has been a participant in several regional planning groups to ensure the transmission system can deliver the energy needed to meet states’ renewable goals. In fact, UMTDI last week released maps showing that renewable energy zones to the west need a strong tie to Wisconsin to move the energy to market. “We applaud the work of the governors and regulatory bodies of the five UMTDI states in identifying renewable energy zones and laying the ground work for solving the difficult cost allocation issues associated with interstate transmission lines,” Procario said.

Other regional wind planning studies being conducted by the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator and recommendations from Wisconsin Governor’s Task Force on Global Warming also identify the need for reliable transmission infrastructure in Wisconsin to help meet climate change initiatives.

As such, ATC’s transmission planning studies are centered in three general areas in Wisconsin that are proving to be a gateway for moving wind power from North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa to load centers in Wisconsin as well as the Chicago area and other points to the east.