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ATC: Transmission upgrade to continue despite Foxconn plant questions


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ATC: Transmission upgrade to continue despite Foxconn plant questions

Transmission developer American Transmission Co. LLC is moving ahead with a transmission system upgrade tied to a $10 billion electronics manufacturing facility in Wisconsin amid questions about what shape the plant will take.

Taiwanese electronics company Foxconn, owned by Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Ltd., announced plans in July 2017 to open a manufacturing facility in WEC Energy Group Inc.'s service territory in southeastern Wisconsin. The state later approved $3 billion in incentives for the company, which said it would make LCD screens for companies such as Apple Inc.

American Transmission, or ATC, is building new transmission lines and a substation to supply electricity to the facility and has already spent $23.5 million on the roughly $117 million project, according to a progress report filed with Wisconsin regulators Jan. 30.

Reuters reported the same day that Foxconn was shifting away from plans make the display screens at the site, raising questions about whether the multibillion-dollar manufacturing facility would be built. Then on Feb. 1, Foxconn said it is going to build the facility after all, according to a report from CNBC.

The report included a statement from Foxconn that said the Wisconsin campus "will serve both as an advanced manufacturing facility as well as a hub of high technology innovation for the region."

The company reportedly came to this decision after a conversation with President Donald Trump, who has pointed to the Foxconn project as a sign of the revival of U.S. manufacturing.

The back-and-forth about the Foxconn plant is not deterring ATC's plans for the transmission upgrade, known as the Mount Pleasant Tech Interconnection Project. Construction is nearly a third of the way complete, and should be finished for an in-service date in December, the company said in a statement.

The project will provide electric service for the Foxconn facility and support anticipated growth in the surrounding region. WEC Energy estimated the facility will have an initial electric load of about 230 MW.

"From our perspective, nothing has changed at this time," ATC said.

Work includes a new substation called Mount Pleasant and an underground 138-kV line to connect the new substation to Foxconn's campus. The project also involves building two new 345-kV transmission lines to connect the Mount Pleasant substation with existing lines. The project would involve rerouting the existing 345-kV Bain-Pleasant Prairie line and adding new equipment to an existing 345-kV line running about 12 miles from an existing substation in Racine County to a switchyard in Pleasant Prairie, Wis. It is the largest project by cost being undertaken in the Midcontinent ISO region, according to the grid operator's Transmission Expansion Plan 2018 report released in December 2018.