How does the American Transmission Company decide where new high voltage lines will be located?
John Callaway of ATC described the process and offered some insight into the world of electrical generation, transmission and distribution at the Aug. 16 Waunakee Rotary meeting.
Describing the basics, he told the club that generation begins with sources such as coal, wind or natural gas. Transmission, the business of ATC, is moving the power around, and distribution is sending it homes and bushinesses.
ATC sees that power is distributed for Wisconsin, Michigan Minnesota and parts of Illinois. The higher voltage 132kv lines are heavy and sway, he said, explaining that’s why trees in their corridors are cut down. An East Coast power blackout caused in Ohio created new standards for maintaining such high voltage lines.
ATC formed in 2001, and since then, it has improved 165 electric substations and permitted 60-plus projects. One recently permitted project was the Badger Coulee line north of Waunakee to the LaCrosse area.
It was needed to transmit power from various energy sources generated in Canada and the United States.
The Midcontinent Independent System Operator oversees power distribution in this region, and its objective is to provide customers with the least expensive electricity on a daily basis. MISO calculates the power demands, and bids for the energy.
Renewable energy mandates play a role in the need for transmission, as well. John noted that in Wisconsin, the state has a mandate to ensure 10 percent of its energy comes from renewable resources. But in order to meet that goal, it may for example need to bring in hydroelectric power from Manitoba, John said.
Some areas are better than other for generating renewable energy from sources such as wind, John explained.
When new transmission lines are built, the process begins with identifying every possible route. The state statutory process requires ATC to first look at where utility lines currently exist.
They can also identify highways and railroad corridors, along with recreational trails,
“Most are former railroad beds,” he said about such trails, adding they are linear.
“The last place to look is a brand new right-of-way,” John said.
The Badger Coulee line was proposed first 2010, and open houses followed. Then, in 2012, ATC locked in the options with preliminary corridors. ATC narrowed those down to two routes, as the Public Service Commission requires under state law.  

Bob Pulvermacher and Cory Randl, the greeters for the meeting, said a few words about themselves.
Bob is retired after 30 years working two jobs and is a proud Rotarian. Two items on his bucket list: to see the Brewers beat the Cubs in the World Series and for the Democrats to put somebody good on the ballot who can beat Gov. Scott Walker.
Cory just turned 40, a big milestone for him. He has two daughters, ages 5 and 7, and this year, they will both be in school full time. He’s had fun this summer with family doing some hiking, and is proud to be part of Rotary and the Waunakee community.

Other News:
–Emily Tucker, Rotary International’s Regional Membership Officer, attended the meeting. She previously worked in Evanston, Illinois, but when a remote membership officer position opened, she relocated to Madison. She is a resource for all things related to membership development.
–The club presented Allison Feldbruegge with a $500 check for the Sun Prairie Disaster Relief Fund.
Guests: John Callaway, speaker; Steve and Chris Landgray (?), guest of Ray and Harriet Statz; Paul Carderella, corporate associate in Liz Diehs’ place.
Visiting Rotarians: Emily Tucker, Rotary International.
Birthdays: Aug. 23, David Rupp.
Anniversaries: Aug. 26, Lori and Peter Derauf; Aug. 26, John and Debbie Cullen; Aug. 27, Danny and Lori Miller; Aug. 28, Connie and Marjorie Blau.
Greeters: Aug. 23, Thomas Roepke and David Rupp; Aug. 30, Bob Sachtjen and Troy Salisbury; Sept. 6, Ellen Schaaf and Todd Schmidt.