Federal energy regulators rebuffed a challenge from power-line opponents in Wisconsin and Minnesota, seeking to block a high-voltage line linking Rochester, Minn., and La Crosse.
The Citizens Energy Task Force and Save Our Unique Lands petitioned the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission earlier this year, contending the project should not have been given the go-ahead.
The groups contended that the $500 million project would cause instability on the power grid – unless a companion project between La Crosse and Madison is built. But FERC sided with utilities and state regulators defending the project.
In a decision this month, FERC said the groups failed to provide any supporting evidence for their claim about the reliability of the system.
In addition, FERC said groups concerned about power line projects being reviewed by the overseer and operator of the Midwest power grid need to weigh in during proceedings of the Indiana-based organization, known as Midcontinent Independent System Operator Inc.
MISO is responsible for long-range planning for the power grid in the Midwest and operates a wholesale energy market in Wisconsin and 10 other states, as well as the Canadian province of Manitoba.
The project still needs one permit, from the Army Corps of Engineers for the Mississippi River crossing near Alma, but parts of the project, including a small power line in Minnesota and a Wisconsin substation near Holmen, have already begun.
The CapX2020 initiative is led by Xcel but includes other utilities, including Dairyland Power Cooperative of La Crosse and WPPI Energy of Sun Prairie.
The state Public Service Commission extensively reviewed the Wisconsin portion of the La Crosse-Madison project, and concluded the project was needed to “address the long-term needs of the La Crosse local area, while also providing regional benefits.”
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