MILWAUKEE — A Milwaukee alderman expects the City Council to object to having its ratepayers share in the cost of $140 million in new electrical transmission line infrastructure needed to serve the planned Foxconn Technology Group manufacturing campus in Mount Pleasant.
And Alderman Robert Bauman believes that Milwaukee will prevail.
American Transmission Co. is seeking approval from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin for new electric transmission line infrastructure. It includes the new Mount Pleasant substation south of Braun Road along the east side of County Trunk Highway H and Braun Road to provide electrical service for the Foxconn campus.
ATC says the impact on a typical residential electric bill will be shared among approximately 5 million customers over a 40-year period. Company spokeswoman Alyssa Braatz said the project will cost ratepayers “pennies per month, pennies per year.”
ATC will submit an application to the PSC in February and is requesting a decision by August.
On Thursday morning, the Milwaukee city attorney briefed the city Public Works Committee, of which Bauman is chairman, about whether the city could plausibly object to sharing in the cost of ATC’s Foxconn-related projects.
The city attorney said Milwaukee does have standing to object, Bauman said. He added, “That’s probably what we’re going to do.”
He predicted there might be only one or two dissenting votes on the 15-member Milwaukee City Council. The next step, Bauman said, will come on Jan. 24 when his committee considers a resolution directing the city attorney to file an objection to the city’s participation in the ATC project costs.
“I’m looking for fairness here,” Bauman said.
The alderman also recently proposed the City of Milwaukee try to annex land in Racine County to help Milwaukee citizens reach Foxconn jobs. “We either transport our workers from Milwaukee, or the workers from Milwaukee will relocate to Racine,” he said.
About ATC’s proposed projects in Mount Pleasant, Bauman cited a case in which Milwaukee was in the opposite position: In 2011, the City of Milwaukee had applied to the PSC to recoup utility relocation costs incurred for Milwaukee’s downtown streetcar project. The City of Brookfield objected to sharing in those costs, Bauman said, and the conservative MacIver Institute lodged a complaint with the PSC.
“We made the argument that it’s pennies, or a fraction of a penny,” Bauman said. “We were told (by the PSC), ‘It doesn’t matter,’ ” and lost. He said the decision added $15 million to the streetcar project cost and delayed it by four years.
Because of that case, Bauman said he feels confident Milwaukee can get out of paying for ATC’s Foxconn work.
“If Foxconn wants to pay for it,” Bauman said, “they can build whatever the hell they please.”
Jenny Trick, Racine County Economic Development Corp.’s executive director, said that “American Transmission Co. has a duty to provide reliable transmission service throughout its service area. ATC has identified a need for transmission line and substation upgrades to meet the growing electrical needs in Racine County, including the new Foxconn campus.”
Trick added, “This project will require the review and approval by the Public Service Commission to ensure that the project is in the public interest; this review process will include significant opportunities for public review and feedback.”