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 afive-year project with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin in late 2012. The project was approved by the Commission in July 2013. Construction began in 2014. WPS was also granted a three year extension onto the original project, meaning construction will take place through the 2021 construction season. Each year of construction involves many "segments" of electric lines (see the interactive map). The WPS project 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 2000 miles of electric distribution lines through this project which began in 2014. Many of the customers that are located in the areas of the projects have been contacted but WPS is still working on communications to those in areas of the final years of construction.
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.
- 2016 project
- 2017 project
- 2018 project
For additional project information, single-click on the highlighted project areas on the map.