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ATC, We Energies file power line, substation requests with PSC

Review process could take months to complete

Feb. 28, 2012

American Transmission Co. filed its application with the state Monday, detailing where it plans to place high-voltage power lines to serve the growing demand on the County Grounds in Wauwatosa. We Energies followed suit today, filing documents detailing its need for a power substation.

ATC seeks approval to build two transmission line connections to serve a new substation near Watertown Plank Road and 93rd Street, adjacent to the existing We Energies Milwaukee County power plant and substation.

But the clock hasn't started ticking on the case yet, said Matthew Pagel, commission spokesman.

"We have 30 days to review the initial application to deem if it is complete or if our staff needs more information," he said.

If the application is considered complete, the commission has 180 days - which could be extended by another 180 days if needed - by state statute to deliberate the necessity for the project and whether the route placement is acceptable.

An environmental assessment will be conducted, as will forums for public input, Pagel said.

The size and complexity of the project generally dictates the depth of review, including alternative supply sources, route locations, economics, safety, reliability and environmental factors.

The commission has required two route options for each transmission line - for a total of four options - each of which will cover about two miles. A map of the proposed routes can be viewed at atc-projects.com.

Several neighborhood groups have railed against putting lines in their neighborhoods and parklands. In response, the Wauwatosa Common Council passed a resolution earlier this month opposing two of the possible high-voltage power line routes: Route A along Walnut Road and Route B along Underwood Creek Parkway.

In addition, the council opposed placing power lines along natural areas owned and managed by Wauwatosa, Milwaukee County or the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District.

The resolution shows the council is interested in the proceedings, City Attorney Alan Kesner said. The city has hired Paul Kent, attorney with Stafford Rosenbaum in Madison, to represent the city's interests.

The city will request to become a party in the proceedings so that it can file objections, bring up concerns and make procedural motions throughout the process, not just at a public hearing.

"We get a little more input as a party," Kesner said. "The ultimate goal is to get the power in but making sure it's done the right way and in the right locations."

City staff will meet with county officials later this week and there are plans to sit down with the neighborhood groups to coordinate efforts.

The Bury the Lines group - residents, members of St. Therese Catholic Parish and the Milwaukee Montessori School - has repeatedly asked that ATC only put forth route options along 95th Street in Milwaukee bordering Wauwatosa that call for lines to be installed underground.

"We are very disappointed that ATC chose to present recommendations to the PSC that include putting high-voltage power lines over our neighborhood, school and church," said Monica Van Aken, head of the school, in a statement.

To review the documents, go to psc.wi.gov and search for Docket No. 5-CE-139.

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