Originally, ATC proposed a larger Bay Lake Project that included constructing transmission lines in the State of Michigan. CUB was instrumental in scaling back the size of that project when ATC proposed it to the regional electric grid operator, MISO, in late 2011. The cost for the original project was approximately $1 billion.
CUB intervened in the PSC proceeding and retained an expert witness to examine the need and cost effectiveness of the project. CUB recommended that the PSC not approve the 138 kV portion of the project, or at minimum, delay a decision on the 138 kV portion to allow for less costly generation proposals to be firmed up. CUB challenged the validity of ATC’s claim that the 138 kV portion of the project, at a cost of $120 million, was needed to preserve reliability in Wisconsin. CUB also pointed out that Michigan and Wisconsin customers drove the apparent need for the project, yet Wisconsin customers would bear most of the project’s costs. Notwithstanding CUB’s arguments, the PSC found that ATC and MISO established the need for the project including the 138 kV line, and it rejected the proposed delay of the 138 kV portion. In its May 2015 order, the PSC approved ATC’s application and authorized construction of the Bay Lake Project.
In October 2013, American Transmission Company and Northern States Power Company – Wisconsin jointly filed an application with the Public Service Commission seeking approval to construct a 345 kV transmission line from the La Crosse area to Madison. The proposed line would be approximately 150 to 190 miles long and was expected to cost approximately $540 million to $580 million to construct.
The project is unusual in that the total dollar cost of constructing the transmission line would be shared across the footprint of the regional electric grid operator, MISO, since it is designated as a Multi Value Project, or MVP. Because MISO spans a number of Midwest states, and operates in other regions of the United States and Canada, the cost to Wisconsin ratepayers for constructing the line would be about 15% of the total cost, or up to $87 million.
CUB intervened in the proceeding before the PSC to review whether the project makes sense for Wisconsin ratepayers given their share of project costs, and given assumptions about future energy usage and the cost of alternatives. Ultimately in May 2015, the PSC issued an order approving the Badger Coulee Transmission Line Project at a total estimated cost of $581 million.