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Meeting set on power line proposal

May 22, 2012
By KYLE WHITNEY - Journal Staff Writer ( , The Mining Journal

MARQUETTE -A company looking to commission a massive electric transmission line project stretching from Wisconsin to Marquette County will hold a public meeting in Ishpeming Wednesday to discuss the plans with landowners and other affected parties.

The meeting will be from 1 to 7 p.m. at Ishpeming's Country Village Banquet and Conference Center.

In early April, American Transmission Co. officials announced the company was planning to construct hundreds of miles of electrical transmission lines - at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars - to connect a substation in the Green Bay, Wis., area to a substation in Tilden Township.

The exact siting of the lines for the Bay Lake Project hasn't been finalized, but ATC has identified tentative routes.

During a series of meetings that began earlier this month, ATC is gathering public input and plans to begin narrowing the options.

ATC spokeswoman Anne Spaltholz said the company mailed out meeting invitations to landowners with property within or adjacent to the tentative lines. The company mailed out about 35,000 invitations.

"What we're looking for is, can they give us some feedback and input on any of these preliminary route segments," Spaltholz said. "It's a lot of information gathering for folks coming to the open house and generally their question is how might this impact them."

In three meetings held earlier this month in Wisconsin, Spaltholz said a total of nearly 1,500 people turned out.

At Wednesday's meeting, ATC representatives will be on-hand to discuss the project with interested citizens. At geographic information stations, meeting goers will be able to get aerial views of their property and discuss any possible impacts with planning engineers and real estate and regulatory staff, among other representatives.

According to preliminary estimates by ATC, the total cost of the project will be between $595 million and $895 million.

The plan is set to include a new 345-kilovolt transmission line, which will stretch about 175 miles from Green Bay to Tilden Township. As part of the project, ATC will also construct a 138-kilovolt line from the new Green Bay substation to a substation near Oconto Falls, Wis., and a pair of 138-kilovolt lines between Menominee County and the Escanaba area.

The company has identified dozens of possible locations for the project, which is intended to reinforce the electrical stability and reliability of the Upper Peninsula power grid.

This month, the company held a handful of public open houses across the Bay Lake Project area, including in Iron Mountain and Escanaba. Wednesday's meeting is the final one in this round.

Using information gathered at the open houses, ATC will identify three to six preliminary routes, which will be identified by 500-foot-wide corridors, and another series of public meetings will be held. Current plans call for those meetings to take place in October.

ATC will then identify a primary and an optional route and will do more public outreach next spring.

Regulatory filings will then be made with the Michigan Public Service Commission and the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin in late 2013 or early 2014.

ATC said it hopes to begin construction in 2015 and have the lines in operation by late 2016.

Kyle Whitney can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.



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