Following approximately two years of study and analysis, American Transmission Co. (ATC) has determined that a 345-kV transmission line from the La Crosse area to the greater Madison area would provide multiple benefits to the state of Wisconsin including improved electric system reliability, economic savings for utilities and energy consumers, and access to additional renewable energy. As it finalizes its evaluation of the multiple benefits of the project, ATC will begin the public outreach efforts on the proposed Badger Coulee Transmission Line and will host a series of open houses this fall with the public and other stakeholders in the 150-mi area from La Crosse to Madison to explore routing options for the new line.

“There are multiple benefit indicators that make the Badger Coulee Transmission Line Project a plus for Wisconsin residents and the Midwest,” says John Procario, ATC president, chairman and chief executive officer. “It’s an exciting new project because it demonstrates multiple benefits. Badger Coulee enhances electric system reliability; it provides direct energy cost savings to electricity users, and it supports the public’s desire for the greater use of renewable energy resources.”

The Badger Coulee Transmission Line will improve electric system reliability in western Wisconsin by providing increased regional electric transfer capability into Wisconsin and alleviating stability issues in the Upper Midwest. ATC’s studies also indicate that building a more efficient high-voltage line offsets the need for approximately $140 million in lower-voltage upgrades in western Wisconsin communities.

The economic benefits of the Badger Coulee Transmission Line include providing utilities with greater access to the wholesale electricity market by reducing energy congestion. A new 345-kV line in western Wisconsin will give utilities greater capability to buy and sell power within the Midwest when it’s economic to do so, and those savings can be passed on to electricity consumers. A 345-kV line also delivers electricity more efficiently than lower voltage or heavily loaded transmission lines and reduces line losses in the delivery of power.

ATC’s studies further indicate that the Badger Coulee Transmission Line will support the transfer of renewable energy into Wisconsin to help meet public policy goals in Wisconsin and the Midwest region. That’s consistent with several regional transmission studies in which ATC is participating with other utilities that identify this corridor as key to moving renewable energy.

Announcement of the proposed Badger Coulee Transmission Line kicks off an inclusive and exhaustive process of public involvement and regulatory review. Following public input on routes, ATC currently expects to file an application to build the line with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin in 2013. If approved by the PSC, construction on the new line would begin in 2015 to meet an in-service date of 2018.