Regulators approve $21M power line to serve Epic Systems’ growing needs

May 26, 2019

Wisconsin utility regulators have authorized construction of a $21 million underground power line in Verona to serve the growing power needs of Epic Systems.

The medical software company, which expects electricity demand to double in the next decade, has agreed to pay $10.2 million of that to cover the cost of putting the line underground.

The remaining costs will be passed on to about 5 million ratepayers in eastern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

The Public Service Commission voted unanimously Thursday to allow American Transmission Co. to build the 1.3-mile high-voltage line, determining that it would not impair the efficiency of utility service and is reasonable to meet future requirements.

The 138-kilovolt line and substation are needed to provide backup in case of a failure on the primary connection, a lower-voltage line owned by Alliant Energy, according to ATC’s application.

Epic anticipates peak demand will grow from about 15.5 megawatts to 30 megawatts by 2028, which would exceed the current line’s capacity.

That would put the company on par with the state’s largest electric customers, which are mostly manufacturers. Epic is already one of Alliant Energy’s largest customers, according to documents filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Epic has 2.2 megawatts of on-site solar panels, currently one of the largest solar installations in the state. A company-owned wind farm near Waunakee can generate up to 9.6 megawatts of power, but the campus still needs a connection to the grid to meet the demands of computer servers and more than 9,500 employees working on the Verona campus.

Though the company says it’s looking at other renewable-energy options, ongoing energy conservation efforts won’t be enough to offset the growing demand, according to ATC’s application.

The PSC approved plans to bury all but one-tenth mile of the line, which would run parallel to Highway PD from an existing substation at the intersection with Highway M to a new substation that would be built on city land near the intersection of Woods Road.

ATC hopes to begin construction in January and have the line in service by May 2021.

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