Top ATC Exec Made Half a Million

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MTT News Desk's picture
By: 
Kevin Murphy

A Town of Middleton resident’s persistence about open records resulted in the disclosure that American Transmission Co. pays its top executive $510,000 annually.

Cynthia Richson, an attorney and a member of the town’s plan commission, became curious about what ATC pays its top executives after not finding it in annual reports the privately-held public utility files with the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC).

The information took on greater importance as ATC continued its route selection process for the Badger-Coulee transmission that would stretch from the La Crosse area to a substation in the town along USH 14, she said.

“It’s important that the public have all the information their entitled so there’s transparency in the process … as these agencies are involved in decisions that have a great impact,” Richson said.

Richson first requested the compensation information in April but was told by PSC Deputy Counsel David Ludwig that the information is considered a “trade secret” and exempt from disclosure under the state’s open record law.

ATC had filed the information with the PSC but asked that it remain confidential as it would aid competitors in hiring away ATC’s management. The PSC agreed, finding that ATC might have to replace people at higher salaries, causing rate increases borne by utility consumers.

Richson disagreed with the interpretation and sent the PSC legal arguments saying why such information isn’t considered a trade secret.

“ATC is required by FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) to provide salary information but it just doesn’t…They need to comply with requirements,” Richson told a reporter.

The PSC complied with Richson’s second request and PSC Chief Legal Counsel Cynthia Smith noted in a May 9 letter that ITC Holdings, the nation’s largest transmission company, and ATC’s utility owners, including MG&E and Alliant Energy all provide that information to the Security Exchange Commission and in links on their company websites.

“Given that ATC officers already have this information at their fingertips and can make their own independent decisions to stay or switch [employment] …I now conclude that such information would not significantly aid a competitor,” Smith wrote.

According to a report ATC filed with the PSC, which was released to Richson on May 29, annual salaries are:

Chairman/President/CEO John Procario: $510,000

VP/CFO/Treasurer Michael Hofbauer: $252,810

VP/COO Carol Chinn: $330,882

VP/General Counsel Robert Garvin: $106,221

VP/Construction Michael Rowe: $283,264

VP/Public Affairs Randall Satterfield: $253,555

VP/strategic Planning John Flynn: $305,000

 

(Garvin, a former commissioner with the PSC, left ATC on April 14, 2011.)

 

MG&E paid its President/Chairman/CEO Gary Wolter $2.01 million in 2011; and Alliant paid its President/Chairman of the Board William Harvey $6.71 million last year, according to proxy statements filed with the SEC.

 

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