Bayfield Second Circuit Transmission Project

Estimated in-service date: 2020
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 19-22 mile 34.5 kilovolt (kV) transmission line and two new substations. The proposed transmission line would run from a new Fish Creek Substation about four miles west of the City of Ashland to a new Pikes Creek Substation about two miles west of the City of Bayfield, Wisconsin.  The western route options include an additional 2.5 to 3.5 mile 34.5 kV line connecting to the City of Washburn. View maps below.

The company is planning 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 at least two route alternatives. 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 2019, with an estimated in-service date in 2020.

Frequently Asked Questions

Current Phase of the Project

Xcel Energy hosted a routing workshop on April 4 at the Harbor View Event Center in Washburn. The purpose of the workshop was for residents on any of the alternative transmission line segments to get an in depth look at what goes into routing a new line, including data analysis, state criteria and more. Residents were asked weigh in on the proposed routes with the goal of identifying two route alternatives to be included in the application to the PSCW.  Feedback from the workshop overwhelmingly favored constructing the new second circuit within the same corridor as the existing 34.5 kV transmission line that serves the area.  Due to significant engineering and construction challenges associated with construction in the existing corridor it was also necessary to identify a second route in a separate corridor.  Workshop participants did not indicate a strong preference among the remaining alternative alignments; therefore Xcel Energy is focusing on the alignment that was initially proposed in August of 2017 (with some smaller modifications) as the second route alternative.  

After further field review 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 will allow the existing line to be de-energized and removed before constructing the new line, enabling crews to work safely away from energized equipment and alleviate more challenging energized construction requirements. The potential alignment for the temporary bypass line is shown in the project maps below (East Route 1 and East Route 2).  The intent would be to construct the bypass line as close to the roads as possible to avoid or minimize tree clearing that would be necessary. 

Project management, routing, engineering and construction team members held site visits in May and June to review project segments and begin developing more detailed engineering and construction plans, and are currently working on those plans based on the information collected.  Once the team has had enough time to develop more detailed plans a public open house will be scheduled, likely sometime later this summer.

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 (46 to 60 years old). The existing line connects the Gingles Substation south of Ashland and the Cornucopia Substation. 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 helps ensure that power remains on should the existing transmission line be damaged or require maintenance.

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

Outreach and Participation

In August of 2017 Xcel Energy presented a single proposed alignment for the Bayfield Second Circuit to the Bayfield County Board and at a public open house.  After receiving feedback on the August alignment Xcel Energy proposed additional route segments and another route alignment for the project. Mailings including property specific maps and comment forms were sent to all landowners adjacent to any of those new alignments in November 2017.  Xcel Energy project team members have attended several county and town board meetings and meetings hosted by the Bayfield Peninsula Energy Alternatives group to provide information about the project and answer questions. 

To assist in evaluation and comparison all potential routes were split into smaller segments based on location and/or construction type (single circuit vs. double circuit) and given a number. Double circuiting is shown in some segments along the existing 34.5 kV transmission line and would  involve constructing new poles (structures) and attaching the new and existing lines (both circuits) on opposite sides of the same poles; Parallel segments would be separate from, but parallel to, the existing 34.5 kV transmission line. For segments where there are existing distribution lines the transmission alignment follows the distribution alignment.  The distribution would either be underbuilt (built on the same poles beneath the transmission line), or buried in the same alignment.

The project team continues to work with internal and external stakeholders to evaluate alternatives as we work toward developing two final route alternatives.  Your input is important. You can review the materials and provide comments by filling out the project comment form or by sending an email at the contacts listed below.

Interactive Project Map

The interactive map below includes all of the potential route segments currently being considered.  Several combinations of individual segments are possible to connect the new Fish Creek Substation to the new Pikes Creek Substation. You can navigate between different options 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. The numbers are not intended to represent an order of preference, only to differentiate segment combinations, however at this time Xcel Energy is focusing on evaluating West Route 1, East Route 1 and East Route 2.  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.

Proposed Project Timeline

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


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