Electric History


On January 2nd, 1915, the city purchased the Grand Rapids Electric Company. Municipal control of the electric and water utility in Wisconsin Rapids has officially began.


A substation is constructed just south of the present day intersection of 1st, Baker, and Market Streets.


A two story building is constructed at 3rd Avenue North and McKinley Street in order to house the new substation and switching equipment needed to meet the increasing electric demand on the city’s west side.


Demand for electricity continues to increase dramatically as World War II dawned. Substation equipment was purchased and installed at a new substation that was built at Market and Avon Streets to help meet the load on the city’s east side.


Construction was began on a 13,200 volt circuit that would encircle the city. Nine new substations are added at various points system wide to receive power from the new 13,200 volt circuit and reduce it to supply the existing 2,400 volt distribution grid.


Electric demand reaches the capacity of the 3rd and High Street substation. An alternate source of supply is obtained from the Petenwell transmission line and a new high voltage substation is built at 18th and Peach Street.


Construction is completed at 221 16th Street South on a new building to house the utility’s Office, Electric, Water and Engineering Departments all at one location.


Electric service is extended to large tracts of land recently annexed to the City from the Town of Grand Rapids. This area, roughly from 1st and Two Mile east to 8th Street and north to Pepper Avenue, had formerly been served by Wisconsin Power and Light. The distribution grid in this area was in poor condition and is rebuilt by utility crews in order to improve service and reliability.


A new substation is built at 3621 Airport Avenue near the site of Collector 3. It is named for the utility’s previous General Manager and called the Baker Sub.


WW&LC completes a series of construction projects designed to improve reliability and capacity. A substation is added to the east side in the 1800 block of East Riverview Expressway (the High School Sub) and to the west side in the 2000 block of Gaynor Avenue (the Gaynor Sub). A transmission line is built connecting these substations with the Baker Sub to enable the utility to serve the entire distribution grid from either side of the river if necessary.


Construction of a new high voltage substation, known as the West Sub, at 18th Avenue and High Street on the City’s west side is finished.


In response to rapidly changing power markets, WW&LC joins Great Lakes Utilities. Known by the acronym GLU, it is a consortium of municipally owned electric utilities from Clintonville, Kiel, Manitowoc, Marshfield, Medford, Rice Lake, Shawano and Wisconsin Rapids who have banded together to gain better access to the wholesale power markets and face associated power supply issues together.


WW&LC negotiates a purchase of 90% of Consolidated Water Power Company’s territory bringing approximately 1,000 new customers into the utility’s service territory. The geographical size of the utility’s service territory increases dramatically and now reaches nearly to the Village of Plover in Portage County.


The rebuild of the downtown feeder loop is completed and the Market Street Sub is rendered obsolete. Built in 1921, it is permanently de-commissioned.


A Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) System is designed and installed at all five of the utility’s substations. This computer system allows operators in the main office the ability to monitor and control the electrical equipment at the substations in order to increase system reliability.

All 14,000 electric meters in the system are replaced with new “smart meters”. This Advanced Meter Infrastructure (AMI) provides two-way communication between the main office and all of the electric meters.


The new Peach Street Substation is placed into service on May 25th, 2011. This substation is built just east of, and replaces, the existing 1957 Peach Street Substation.


A standard distribution is converted to a higher voltage across the entire WW&LC service territory. This conversion reduced line losses and also cut transformer inventory by almost half.


A new substation is installed at the site of the existing Coyne Substation to feed a new manufacturer named Matalco, who built an aluminum smelting plant in the East Commerce Park.