Dairyland Power Cooperative needed to retrofit an existing overhead 161 kV transmission line with static wire containing Optical Ground Wire (OPGW) to enhance its communications’ infrastructure. The project entailed replacing the existing static wire over an 18-mile stretch of transmission line between its Apple River and Poplar Lake substations located in Polk County, Wisconsin.
The WSB Natural Resources team was selected to help manage and facilitate much of the groundwork required before the project could begin. In addition to Natural Resources, work on the project required the expertise of our Survey, GIS and Environmental Compliance teams. The groups worked together to prepare NEPA documents on behalf of Dairyland to receive federal funding from the Rural Utilities Service (RUS), performed a level one wetland review, coordinated with local, state and federal regulatory agencies, provided cultural resources outreach, completed environmental permitting, and developed an Environmental Access and Stormwater Pollution Prevention plan to ensure the project complied with all environmental regulations.
Due the projects tight 9-month completion schedule, we leveraged drone technology to provide much of the “boots on the ground” research that was needed for the environmental review. Drone footage was used to review specific areas of the project that contained environmentally sensitive resources or other project constraints that winter weather would have otherwise made difficult. By utilizing drones with two-way live inspection our team was able to complete the environmental review in a few hours versus three to four days using field staff. This allowed us to significantly reduce the overall project cost and provide Dairyland valuable information that was used to identify wetland areas that should be avoided during project construction and provided valuable insight regarding where temporary clear span bridge crossings were needed. Using these tools, WSB was able to efficiently collect needed field data, secure project required permits, and meet Dairyland’s time-sensitive construction start date.