MADISON, WI -

American Transmission Co. (ATC) and Xcel Energy filed an application on Tuesday with the Public Service Commission (PSC) of Wisconsin for approval to build a transmission line from the La Crosse area to northern Dane County.

Xcel Energy says, if approved, the Badger Coulee Transmission Line Project will offset the need for about $160 million in lower voltage upgrades in western Wisconsin, provide increased access to the wholesale energy market and could provide $259 million to $841 million in net economic benefits over the life of the project.

ATC and Xcel Energy proposed two route options for the transmission line, per the PSC’s requirement. The two companies say more than 90-percent of the 182-mile northern route uses existing utility and Interstate or U.S. Highway corridors. About 60-percent of the 159-mile southern route uses shared corridors.

Xcel Energy says both route options have the same end points: Xcel Energy’s new Briggs Road Substation near Holmen and ATC’s North Madison Substation in the Town of Vienna, continuing to ATC’s Cardinal Substation in the Town of Middleton. If the project is approved, the PSC will select the final route. The project is expected to cost about $514 million to $552 million depending on the route.

“We appreciate the public’s active involvement over the past several years in helping us evaluate possible routes,” ATC Environmental and Local Relations Manager Greg Levesque said in a statement. “We’ve looked at hundreds of paths for these lines and made adjustments based on what we learned from area landowners, businesses, community organizations and local officials.”

“The regulatory review process should take 12 to 18 months,” said Xcel Energy Project Manager David Rockwell said in a statement. “During that time, the PSC will provide opportunities for the public and other stakeholders to get involved.”

If the Badger Coulee Transmission Line Project is approved by the PSC, construction would begin in 2016 to meet an in-service date of 2018.