American Transmission Co. projects

Project website for a Wisconsin-based company that owns and operates the high-voltage electric transmission system that powers communities in portions of the Upper Midwest.

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Construction advances for Cardinal-Hickory Creek project despite legal challenges 

New mat roads, foundations in place for forthcoming poles

On any given day in western Dane County, passersby can see hundreds of timber mats neatly stacked in five locations next to roads and ATC’s rights-of-way. Machinery, including forwarders and pulp trucks, continually deplete the stacks and transport them to create temporary roads that also protect against soil erosion. 

It’s no small feat. 

“There are roughly 45 crew members working in the rights-of-way,” said Zac Eide, senior construction manager for ATC. “In addition to shuffling the mats to create mat roads, we also have numerous foundation excavations drilled and as of today, 15 foundations have been poured. While that process is ongoing, we’re excited to begin standing up the first transmission line structures this month.” 

ATC is constructing the eastern half of the 345,000-volt Cardinal-Hickory Creek Transmission Line Project from the Cardinal Substation in Middleton, Wis. to the forthcoming Hill Valley Substation near Montfort, Wis. Project co-owner ITC Midwest is constructing the western half of the transmission line project in Wisconsin from the Hill Valley Substation to the Nelson Dewey Substation north of Cassville, Wis. Construction began in Wisconsin on Nov. 1, 2021, starting with vegetation removal in Dane County. Construction of the project in Iowa began in April 2021.  

An increased need, benefit to the region 

Requests to interconnect new renewable generation resources with the transmission system are at an all-time high. Not surprisingly, new projects are backlogged due to a lack of transmission capacity.  

Over 125 renewable developments across the Upper Midwest are contingent on the Cardinal-Hickory Creek Transmission Line Project, which will provide a vital bridge to the future of our region’s renewable energy developments and help meet public policy goals. Cardinal-Hickory Creek is the last of the 17 Multi-Value Projects identified over a decade ago by the Midcontinent Independent System Operator that is critical to ensuring a cleaner, safer and more affordable energy future for our state. Its construction and operation will reduce energy costs, improve the reliability and flexibility of the state’s transmission system, and help support the interconnection of renewable generation in the Upper Midwest.   

Update on legal proceedings 

Despite various court proceedings, ATC, ITC Midwest and Dairyland Power Cooperative continue to have the regulatory authorization to move forward with construction in a vast majority of the project route and outside the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. 

The Environmental Law & Policy Center on behalf of its clients (National Wildlife Refuge Association, Driftless Area Land Conservancy, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation and Defenders of Wildlife) challenged some of the approvals for the Cardinal-Hickory Creek project from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Rural Utility Service and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in federal court last year. These proceedings include the federal permits and authorization to construct through the Refuge. ATC, ITC Midwest and Dairyland Power Cooperative are all parties to the case.  

Additional information regarding our public statements on the project litigation can be found on the news and updates section of the Cardinal-Hickory Creek project page. Information regarding the Mississippi River crossing can be found here. 

Notable facts​​​​​​​  

  • 30,000 – approximate total number of project mats 
  • Over 200 – easement parcels 
  • 185 – height in feet of tallest pole 
  • 262 – cubic yards, largest foundation (12 ft x 54 ft) 
  • 127 – current number of renewable generation projects contingent on the construction of Cardinal-Hickory Creek 
  • 45 – total number of crew members typically working in the ATC right-of-way as of today 
  • 19 – current number of gigawatts the renewable generation projects total – enough to power millions of homes with clean energy  
  • 12 – ATC project contractors  
  • 5 – ATC laydown yards 
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ATC is a Wisconsin-based company that moves energy along the regional electric grid in parts of Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and Illinois, serving more than 5 million electric consumers. We are experts at what we do: planning, maintaining, operating and protecting the grid. As the electric industry moves toward renewable generation sources, we are transforming our system to continue delivering energy reliably and safely. We proudly support STEM education programs that empower youth with the skills needed to succeed in tomorrow’s energy workforce. For more information, visit and follow us on LinkedIn and X (Twitter).