While electric system reliability at WPS is generally good, the company is modernizing parts of its electric distribution system by burying or upgrading lines. The company applied for a Certificate of Authority (CA) for the five-year project with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin in late 2012. The project was approved by the Commission in July 2013. Construction will begin in 2014. Each year of construction will involve many "segments" of electric lines (see the interactive map). The WPS proposal involves electric lines that have the lowest reliability in its system — primarily in its rural areas that are heavily forested.

In the affected areas, electric reliability is lower than state and national averages. The areas targeted are those in which customers are repeatedly faced with the loss of power due to storms — sometimes for several days.

WPS plans to convert about 1,000-1,250 miles of electric distribution lines beginning in 2014. WPS has been in contact with the customers that will be affected by the 2014 and 2015 work. WPS is currently contacting customers that will be affected by the 2016 work.

The lead time for actual conversion of the overhead lines is significant. For the project to move forward, the company must identify landowner support for each specific "segment" of the project and receive their permission to access their land to determine if there are any geographical or environmental obstacles, as well as to begin a preliminary design for the new underground system. Another time-consuming aspect of the project is obtaining the necessary easements from landowners that allow WPS to bury the lines.

In the project, WPS will perform or contract work to bury and upgrade electric distribution lines that have proven to be the poor performers in its system, but where improvements make sense financially. The company has analyzed every electric distribution line to determine where the improvements will be made. Not all lines in an area will be upgraded. WPS will prioritize the lines to be upgraded or buried based on historical reliability performance data.

View a full screen version of the map below.

  • 2014 Project
  • 2015 Project
  • 2016 Project

For additional project information, single-click on the highlighted project areas on the map.