A $21.2 million transmission line to power Epic’s projected growth has earned state approval.
The Public Service Commission last month approved construction of the 1.3 mile, 138-kilovolt line, mostly underground along County Hwy. PD. Epic will pay for almost half the project, projected to be built next year.
The line will connect an existing substation at County Hwys. M and PD (the Cross Country substation) to a new a substation to be built on City of Verona-owned land south of PD and Woods Road (Northern Lights). Also, a 2.25-mile overhead line will be added to an existing power line serving the Cross Country Substation and extend north to a substation in the city of Madison.
American Transmission Co., the line’s builder, has been studying the best way to deliver the power since Alliant Energy notified ATC in 2016 that Epic’s electrical demand is likely to increase to 22 megawatts by 2022 and to 30 megawatts by 2028. At this load level, Alliant would not be able to provide redundant service to Epic in case of an outage on the existing 24.9-kV line that serves the property.
ATC studied alternative options, including bringing in power from substations in Verona or Mount Horeb and installing two 138kV lines from the Cross Country substation. It determined the proposed project provided the “best value solution,” to meet Epic’s requirements, according to testimony from an ATC engineer to the PSC.
Undergrounding the line to the Northern Lights substation adds $10.2 million to the project’s cost, but Epic has agreed to reimburse the additional costs in a deal with Alliant and ATC, according to the PSC.
The route the PSC approved allows most of the line to be constructed in the PD right-of-way, ATC spokesperson Luella Dooley-Menet explained.
An alternate route, also proposed to be underground, would have connected the two substations south of CTH PD. It cost more, an estimated $21.4 million.
ATC will begin discussions to acquire easements from two private landowners to install the line, Dooley-Menet said.
The City of Verona and Epic entered into an agreement about four years ago to allow construction of the Northern Lights substation on city property, city public works director Theran Jacobson told the Press. Because the new power line is largely in a county highway right of way, the city did not volunteer a comment on whether it preferred an overhead or underground installation into its property, said Jacobson.
“Obviously, anyone would rather have it underground,” he said.
Only 1 percent of the power lines ATC builds are underground, due to cost, repair time and unspecified environmental considerations, Dooley-Menet told the Press.
ATC had anticipated starting construction on the line this year, but Tuesday, Dooley-Menet said construction would likely be postponed until 2020.
That put the power line project on the same timetable as improvements to PD between M and Woods Road. Jacobson said every effort will be made to coordinate construction plans so both projects can proceed simultaneously without affecting the other.
The PSC allowed landowners Gerald and Linda Endres and Forward Development Group to intervene in ATC’s power line request. Both parties own property southwest of the intersection of PD and M, and both said they would be affected depending on the construction method selected for the project. However, neither filed any objection to the request, and representatives did not return phone calls Tuesday seeking comment on the PSC’s decision.
The PSC and the Department of Natural Resources jointly prepared an environmental assessment of the project and found no adverse economic, social, cultural or environmental impacts from construction of the new line and substation.
The existing 24.9 kV line will be taken down when the new line is installed. The new line is expected to be operational by June 2021, the originate date ATC proposed, said Dooley-Menet.