News release: Regulatory review begins on transmission access project (Paddock Rockdale)
PSC begins formal review of ATC’s application for Paddock – Rockdale Project
180-day regulatory analysis of electric transmission access proposal begins
MADISON, Wis.—American Transmission Co.’s application seeking approval to construct a new 345 kilovolt electric transmission line in south central Wisconsin was declared complete last week by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. The determination marks the beginning of the roughly six-month regulatory review of the proposal, which will include engineering and environmental scrutiny and a public hearing.
This application, which was filed with the PSC in May, is the first transmission line proposal within the service area of the Midwest Independent System Operator (MISO) that is justified on economics. ATC’s projects in recent years largely have been constructed to address weaknesses on its transmission system and resolve reliability issues. “Although area reliability will be enhanced, the primary benefit of this high-voltage transmission line to the south comes from the ability of utilities to access and purchase cheaper power in the region for their customers,” explained Flora Flygt director of Planning for ATC. The proposed power line, called Paddock-Rockdale, will add a connection between the Rockdale Substation in the Town of Christiana in Dane County and the Paddock Substation located in the Town of Beloit in Rock County.
Although the PSC staff has requested a few additional pieces of information from ATC, a “completeness determination” by the PSC means the staff is confident that the information and data contained in ATC’s Paddock – Rockdale proposal will allow the agency to perform a comprehensive analysis of the proposal. “We hope to have a decision later this year or early next year,” said Flygt. “This regulatory review follows two years of analysis by our planners. If approved, this project will complete a connection to Illinois that will allow local distribution companies access to lower-cost power produced in the region.”
Wisconsin has limited transmission line connections to other states, which reduces access to wind energy and lower-cost sources of electricity from other regions. According to Flygt, six of seven scenarios studied by ATC showed that the project would pay for itself over its lifetime. “The new line could yield a 40-year net savings on the low end of $100 million and almost $1 billion on the high end. On an annual basis, the savings could be between $7 million and $125 million. The cost of the project is about $133 million,” she said.
“Timing is important and we’re encouraged by the PSC’s timetable for review. Our in-service target is 2010, which coincides with the expiration of some of the federal market protection for our service area. Supporting a more competitive market for utilities will translate to savings to consumers,” said Flygt. The regulatory application includes two possible locations for the new 345-kV circuit, and both make use of existing transmission line corridors. If the project is approved, the PSC will select one route for construction as part of its decision.