American Transmission Co. has narrowed the potential routes for a $425 million power line it will seek to build from Dane County to La Crosse.
The Pewaukee power line company is proposing a 345,000-volt line that would stretch 150 to 170 miles, depending on the route selected.
ATC has scheduled six open houses across the affected area next month.
Responding to concerns about the power line, ATC has removed from consideration routes that would traverse scenic parts of Wisconsin’s Driftless Area in Vernon County.
“As a result of further evaluation and stakeholder comments, we have identified preliminary routes for the project,” said Sarah Justus, ATC’s local relations manager. “A majority of potential line segments previously being studied have been dismissed, leaving us with a smaller number of preliminary routes that may be suitable for a transmission line.”
The line would be built to link the Madison area with a 345,000-volt power line that has been proposed to come into Wisconsin from Minnesota.
Public hearings were held this month on that project, and a decision is expected by June from the state Public Service Commission, agency spokeswoman Kristin Ruesch said.
The Citizens Energy Task Force and other critics of both power line projects are raising questions about the need for the lines given the impact the recession has had on power demand across the Midwest. They say they are concerned that utilities are trying to profit from crisscrossing the region with high-voltage power lines, the cost of which will show up on monthly electricity bills.
The utilities that would profit from the proposed ATC line are its owners, the electric utilities serving eastern portion of the state: Wisconsin Public Service Corp. of Green Bay, We Energies of Milwaukee, and Wisconsin Power & Light Co. and Madison Gas & Electric Co., both of Madison.
Proponents say the lines will improve the flow of power across the region, including access to cheaper power in the wholesale regional market, and enable the transfer of renewable energy from wind farms in Minnesota and the Dakotas.
ATC built the Wausau-to-Duluth, Minn., power line several years ago, which gave the state its first major interstate power line connection with Minnesota. The La Crosse-Minnesota project would be the second and the so-called Badger Coulee line would facilitate more imported power, they say.
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