GREEN BAY - A new $1 billion project is in the works to improve the flow of electricity in Northeast Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula.
American Transmission Company announced plans to expand transmission lines Tuesday, calling it the Bay Lake Project.
Preliminary plans include a line from a new substation in the Green Bay area to an expanded substation near Ishpeming, Michigan.
A new line would also run from the Green Bay substation to one near Oconto Falls.
Two other lines are also proposed between Menominee County and the Escanaba, Michigan areas.
The project is just in its planning stages, and the exact routes have not been selected.
However, its payment of the project that has some groups already concerned.
Additional transmission lines could be popping up across the region.
"The transmission system exists to move large amounts of power across large distances so we take it from the power plants where the energy is generated and deliver it to where it's used," said ATC spokesperson Jackie Olson.
ATC officials told us the system needs to be upgraded because of demand changes, reduced output from regional power plants, and reliability concerns.
The company says those reliability concerns stem from storms last May, which blacked out a large portion of the U.P.
"Basically the U.P. is served by one high voltage line, the 345-kV line and two 138-kV lines. The 345-kV line was out of service for maintenance and lightning struck the other two lines, causing a blackout," Olson explained. "If the event occurred somewhere further south on our system, we probably would have put Green Bay and Rhinelander in jeopardy too."
Olson says the project would primarily benefit ATC utility customers the UP and northern Wisconsin, like Wisconsin Public Service.
WPS has about 441,000 customers in northeast and north central Wisconsin.
However, Olson says all ATC customers would help pay for the project.
"Those customers pay for the services. It ultimately does show up on an end-user, customer's bill," Olson said.
That has some groups concerned, like the Citizens Utility Board of Wisconsin.
"This represents a really unusual situation where ratepayers in one state would end up making up the cost for projects that are really meant to benefit residents in another state," explained Executive Director Charlie Higley in a phone interview.
But the project is far from shovel ready.
A statement by Integrys Energy, the parent company of WPS and Upper Peninsula Power Company says, "We believes there is a need to reinforce transmission into the U.P. and ATC's project appears to fulfill that need."
However, the company is still waiting for an independent evaluation of the need in the U.P. and "the merits of ATC's proposed reinforcement."
So before anything can be done, Michigan and Wisconsin regulators will have final approval.
ATC officials anticipate the process could take years.
WPS says it's too early in the process to know how much customers' bill would be affected by the project if it goes forward.
ATC says it hope to have public meetings on the project starting next month.
However, no dates have been set.
The decision for whether or not Walmart can continue to investigate locating a store in Green Bay's Broadway District is now up to the city's redevelopment authority.
Explorers who removed a wooden slab from Lake Michigan this summer are taking an unusual step to determine whether it could have come from Le Griffon, a long-lost vessel from the 17th century.
A Green Bay-based beef processing company has submitted the minimum $12.75 million bid for an idled South Dakota plant, according to court paperwork filed Wednesday.
Repairs to a U.S. 41 overpass in Appleton will cost $175,000, with the company that struck the bridge picking up the tab, the state said Wednesday.
We have new details in a story about Minneapolis police officers who got into trouble in Green Bay.
The man who will lead the Medical College of Wisconsin-Green Bay's campus was introduced Wednesday afternoon.