Bayfield Second Circuit Transmission Project

Estimated in-service date: 2021
Voltage: 34.5 kV line
Estimated length: 19 to 22 miles (depending on route selected)

The proposed Bayfield Second Circuit Transmission project includes a new 34.5 kilovolt (kV) transmission line and two new substations. The proposed transmission line would run from the new Fish Creek Substation about four miles west of the City of Ashland to  the new Pikes Creek Substation about two miles west of the City of Bayfield, Wisconsin.  With feedback from landowners in the area, Xcel Energy has identified two potential route alternatives for the project.  The West Route alternative is approximately 22 miles long with an additional four mile 34.5 kV line connecting to the City of Washburn.  The East Route alternative, which uses the existing transmission line corridor, is approximately 19 miles long, and would require construction of a temporary bypass line in a separate corridor during construction of the new line.  Maps and more detail about the two alternatives are shown below. 

Xcel Energy plans to submit an application for a Certificate of Authority to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) in 2018 seeking approval for the project. The application will include the two route alternatives named above. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the State Historic Preservation office will review and provide input on the route alternatives. The PSCW will select the final route. If approved, construction is expected to begin in 2020, with an estimated in-service date in 2021.

Frequently Asked Questions

Project Need

Electricity is currently provided to communities on the east side of the Bayfield Peninsula via a single existing 34.5 kilovolt transmission line that was built between 1957 and 1971 (47 to 61 years old). Any failure on the line south of Bayfield or Washburn results in power outages to those communities as there is not a back-up transmission line in the area. The existing system experiences low voltages during peak usage days. The proposed Bayfield Second Circuit Project would increase reliability and solve voltage concerns by providing an additional source of electricity to the area. This second source of power also helps ensure electricity remains on should the existing transmission line be damaged or require maintenance. In addition, this project will strengthen the overall system in the area and allow Xcel Energy to rebuild the remainder of the 34.5 kV system on the Bayfield peninsula with minimal outages to customers.

Xcel Energy is planning to rebuild a transmission line that runs between Bayfield and Cornucopia beginning in late October of 2018.  This line is part of the larger Bayfield Peninsula transmission system, but is not included in the Bayfield Second Circuit Project. This rebuild is possible at this time because the line between Bayfield and Cornucopia does not currently serve any load, and is therefore able to be taken out of service to complete the construction. The rebuild will be located entirely within existing transmission line easements on the same alignment as the existing line.  Landowners affected by this line rebuild are being notified by mail.

For more information on Bayfield Second Circuit project need, please view the planning report. 

Route Alternative Details

West Route

The West Route follows the existing transmission corridor for approximately four miles between County Road G and Nolander Road.  The segment south of Nolander Road would be built on double circuit structures with the existing line.  Double circuiting involves constructing new poles (structures) and attaching the new and existing lines (both circuits) on opposite sides of the same poles.  At Nolander Road the line diverges from the existing corridor and follows Ondossagon, Wannebo and Church Corner roads to the west and north, before crossing a road- less stretch to Bayfield County Forest roads.  This part of the line would be single-circuit; meaning only one circuit would be built on each pole.  The tie line connecting the new transmission line to Washburn would also be a single-circuit line.

If the West  Route is selected,  locations where the new transmission alignment follows existing distribution lines, those distribution lines will likely be buried underground prior to construction of the transmission line.  Earlier in the process we had indicated that the distribution lines could potentially be place on the same poles as the transmission line (underbuilt).  After meeting with representatives from Bayfield Electric we have determined that relocating distribution lines underground along most, if not all, of the West Route, is the best option.

East Route

The East Route uses the same corridor where the existing transmission line is located.  If the East Route is selected the new line will be built on double-circuit poles with the existing transmission line.  The new line would be on one side and the existing line would be located on the other side of the poles.   Because electric service to Washburn and Bayfield needs to be maintained throughout construction of the new line, the project team has determined that the most viable way to construct within the existing transmission line corridor would be to construct a temporary bypass line separated from the existing line.  This would allow the existing line to be de-energized and removed before constructing the new line, and would alleviate a number of safety concerns and more challenging construction requirements.  The proposed alignment for the temporary bypass line is shown in the project maps below.  The bypass line would be done in two phases: Phase 1 from County Road G to Washburn and Phase 2 from Washburn to Bayfield.  The intent would be to construct the bypass line as close to the roads as possible to minimize the amount of tree clearing that would be necessary. 

Interactive Project Map

The interactive map below shows each of the proposed route alternatives.  The map also includes  the segments that were included in the route analysis and at the public routing workshop in April.  You can navigate between the maps by clicking the blue arrows at the bottom corners of the map or by clicking the list icon in the top left corner and selecting the map you wish to view.  To zoom to a specific location you can type in an address in the search box or use the + and – buttons to zoom in or out.

Outreach and Participation

Xcel Energy appreciates your input and has been working with the public as we determine the route options that will be presented to the Wisconsin Public Service Commission. In August 2017, a proposed alignment was presented at a public open house.  After receiving feedback, Xcel Energy proposed additional route segments and held a routing workshop in April 2018. The project team has attended several county and town board meetings, met with residents and distributed project updates.  Another public open house was held on September 24.

Proposed Project Timeline

2018 - Submit Certificate of Authority to Wisconsin Public Service Commission
2019 - Begin land rights acquisition (pending project approval)
2020 - Begin construction
2021 - Estimated in-service date

Contact Us

If you have questions or comments on the Bayfield Second Circuit Transmission Project you can contact:

Ellen Heine
Sr. Land Agent

Additional Information