On behalf of American Transmission Co.'s Bay Lake Project team, I'd like to clarify some issues that were raised in a recent letter to the editor. The proposed project includes a new 345-kilovolt transmission line from the Green Bay area to Quinnesec needed to address electric reliability concerns.
Our studies indicate that simply upgrading existing lines will not meet system needs.
Routing and siting new transmission lines is a complex and lengthy process. Because we are in the early stages of the project, it is understandable that some confusion exists.
Our approach involves gathering as much local input as we can - we host a series of open houses over the course of 12 to 18 months to explain the project, listen to landowners and local officials, and seek comments that can help us identify a route that minimizes impacts.
We start by identifying man-made corridors (such as power lines, pipelines, highways, etc.) within which we could co-locate the new transmission line. After studying and reviewing these broad corridors, we eliminate some and narrow the remainder to identify preliminary routes.
After more detailed analysis, we ultimately propose a minimum of two routes in an application that is filed with state regulators.
We presented the preliminary routes for the Bay Lake Project at a second round of open houses in early October, and the Highway U corridor referred to by the letter writer is one of many preliminary route alternatives under consideration at this time. We anticipate presenting the final route alternatives that will be filed with the regulatory agencies at open houses in spring 2013.
The typical width of a right-of-way for a 345-kV line is about 150 feet. The 3,000-foot reference in the letter to the editor pertained to the corridors that were initially studied to determine the preliminary routes.
If the transmission line is approved, we enter into easement negotiations with affected property owners in an orderly and transparent process set by state law.
Real estate representatives meet with landowners to discuss easement acquisition, answer questions and address concerns about individual properties.
Appraisals are performed to determine fair market value for the easement. The right of eminent domain is used only as a last resort.
It is especially important to note that we do not build power lines over homes or other occupied dwellings.
We appreciate the time and effort area residents are making to learn about our proposal - more than 2,250 people attended the recent open houses. Additional information is available at www.BayLakeProject.com; landowners with questions can call us, toll-free, at 855-831-5853. (The number was listed incorrectly in the letter to the editor.)