American Transmission Co. has energized the completed 32-mile, 345-kV Rockdale-West Middleton Transmission Line.

The project was first introduced to the public in 2004, kicking off with a comprehensive outreach effort which included 22 public meetings attended by 3,300 people over three years. More than 2,600 written comments were submitted by stakeholders and included in the company’s application to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin.

Much of the stakeholder input centered around environmental and visual impacts along the proposed routes. In 2009, after nearly two years of regulatory review, the PSC ordered a portion of the line to be built along the environmentally sensitive, highly visible and heavily traveled Beltline Highway in Madison, Wis.

Brian Fischer, Rockdale-West Middleton project manager, pointed to the company’s coordinated performance on multiple fronts during the past four years of planning, design and construction as evidence of the project’s success. “Our project team’s practice of collaboration and taking into account all factors—rather than considering each area or stage separately—resulted in unique solutions that saved time, money and minimized environmental impacts,” said Fischer.

  • Schedule: Construction and energization was completed four months ahead of schedule
  • Budget: Project came in 30 percent under the budget set by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin
  • Construction innovation: Helicopter structure setting and helical pier foundations in the Yahara Wetlands
  • Maximizing right-of-way and minimizing aesthetic impacts: Used five different pole types and a variety of conductor configurations in order to “thread the needle” through a congested urban area
  • Collaboration: Worked with nine municipalities and 179 landowners—reaching easement agreements with 97 percent of the landowner
  • Protecting the environment:
  • 30 waterways and 5.6 miles of wetlands crossed and only 0.054 acre of wetlands lost
  • 5 miles of mats used to preserve wetlands and protect agricultural lands
  • Excellent compliance, with no environmental violations or fines
  • More efficient line eliminates 34,000 to 140,000 metric tons of carbon emissions each year from coal plants not having to operate

Fischer noted several other factors in the project’s success. “We received outstanding support from local officials, and state regulators worked with us in a cooperative manner to ensure that their concerns were addressed effectively. Madison Gas & Electric and Alliant Energy also gave us excellent support in coordinating and scheduling the electric system outages that were needed during construction.”

The line can carry 1,267 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 239,000 homes.

“I extend my sincere thanks to those involved with the project,” said Fischer. “We had many partners in this project, and all of them deserve credit for our success.” In addition to Madison Gas & Electric and Alliant Energy, several contractors worked on the project, including:

  • Construction: MJ Electric, Tri-State Drilling, Inc.
  • DOT Coordination: Ayres Associates
  • Engineering: Sargent & Lundy, GEI Consultants, Power Engineers
  • Environmental monitoring: Stantec
  • Helical pier foundations: Helical Pier Systems Ltd.
  • Helicopter: Air 2, LLC; Erickson Air-Crane, Inc.
  • Real estate: Land Service Company
  • Restoration/traffic signage: Q3 Contracting
  • Surveying: AECOM Technology Corporation
  • Vegetation management: Asplundh Tree Expert Co.

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