Smart Growth Planning & Electric Transmission Facilities
Here are some suggestions for community planners and zoning officials on how to plan for electric transmission facilities in the Smart Growth planning and zoning processes.
For further information on electric transmission lines and the electric industry . For further ideas on Smart Growth planning for electric lines please contact Paul Rahn at (608)267-8967 or e-mail him at Paul.Rahn@wisconsin.gov.
What are electric
Chapter 66.1001(2)(d) directs communities to map existing utilities, including electric power plants and transmission lines, and to develop objectives, policies, goals, and programs to guide their future development. Many existing transmission lines will need upgrading over the next decade. Many new transmission lines and substations will be needed to serve Wisconsin's growing electricity use.
The owners of Wisconsin's electric transmission lines are the American Transmission Company (ATC), Dairyland Power Cooperative (DPC), and Xcel Energy. When more transmission capacity or service is needed in an area, two of the main goals of these entities are: 1) to upgrade existing transmission lines whenever possible, rather than to build new transmission lines, and 2) to build new electric transmission lines where existing lines are now located. The alternative is to acquire many miles of new rights-of-way in new locations.
Electric transmission lines are generally a permanent fixture
on the landscape, but in the past, they were seldom considered
in land use planning. Given the need for many miles of new
and upgraded transmission lines, communities may wish to
fulfill the requirements of Chapter 66.1001 by identifying
the location of existing transmission lines, deciding if
their current location is more desirable than a new location,
and taking steps to protect the existing and possible future
transmission corridors from conflicting land uses.
Any residence or occupied building, if located too near
an existing transmission line right-of-way, may make it
difficult or undesirable to site new transmission lines
in that location. The Wisconsin Division of Aeronautics
enforces Federal Aviation Administration rules that restrict
the location of aboveground transmission lines near public
airports and private airstrips. Due to concerns about the
potential harmfulness of magnetic fields, many people do
not want electric transmission lines located adjacent to
Farming (including Christmas tree farms), gardening, greenspace or conservancy, and parking lots
are compatible with transmission lines because the land under or around the transmission lines can
continue to be used for these purposes. In some Wisconsin communities, electric transmission line
rights-of-way are used for bike paths, horse trails, or even snowmobile trails. Industrial areas
and businesses are generally considered compatible with electric transmission line corridors, so
long as buildings are not so close as to restrict future corridor use. Roads and railroads are
often good locations for electric transmission lines, because these are also linear land uses.
In residential areas, lots adjacent to transmission lines are sometimes larger and thus may be
considered more desirable by some.
Wisconsin's transmission line owners will need to make major upgrades to the electric transmission line
system over the next decade. This is due to a number of factors, including the age of existing facilities,
increased electricity use by a growing Wisconsin population, and the change in national regulation of utilities. Communities
that have planned for new electric transmission lines (for example by protecting existing transmission line corridors) will experience
less disruption and uncertainty when transmission line owners must route new facilities.
A GIS database is available that shows the location of generating plants, electric substations and electric transmission lines in Wisconsin. For an electronic or paper map of electric facilities in your area contact Marilyn Weiss at Marilyn.Weiss@wisconsin.gov or (608)266-1613.
For further information about a specific electric line,
contact the appropriate electric line owner.
For ATC lines contact Charlie
Gonzales at firstname.lastname@example.org
or (262)506-6835. For DPC
& Xcel lines contact Don Neumeyer at Don.Neumeyer@wisconsin.gov
The ATC yearly develops
plans for transmission line improvements in five planning
zones in eastern Wisconsin. Xcel and DPC also conduct transmission
line planning. For Xcel and DPC contact Don Neumeyer at (608)
267-9304 or by e-mail at Don.Neumeyer@wisconsin.gov.
There are a number of possible means to protect rights-of-way, whether through planning or zoning activities. Once communities are aware of the existing and future electric system, they can decide what's appropriate for them. Here are some options:
A community may wish to identify some other linear feature than an existing transmission line as a future transmission corridor. For example, when new roads are built or existing roads widened, additional right-of-way might be purchased or reserved for possible future use for a new electric line.
New developments usually include plans for water, sewer,
and roads, but seldom for electric service. It might be
a good idea for each new development to include a check-in
with the local distribution utility so that if a new distribution
substation is needed, land for the substation can be included
in development plans.