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All facts needed with high voltage transmission line


August 10, 2017

A lengthy article in the Sunday Wisconsin State Journal on July 27, titled Battle lines widen as plans progress for a high-powered transmission line between Madison and Iowa, reported widening differences about the Cardinal Hickory Creek (CHC) high voltage transmission line. The article, one of several on the topic by Business Editor, Judy Newman, continues to stress the positions of the line’s developers and less the positions of the opposition in spite the promise of the title.

Whether we have this high voltage line or not will determine a lot of the appearance and future of our communities. Local newspapers can help all of us hear more needed facts.

While the State Journal article was long and presented different sides, it had more to report from ATC or from supporters of transmission lines than opponents or those with questions. Effects on property values, home sales and damage to the Driftless Area in fact were reported, while important events in local communities questioning and opposing the line were reduced to a few sentences.

The Cardinal Hickory Creek transmission line is a project of American Transmission Company (ATC), ITC Midwest, and Dairy Power Cooperative (DPC). The line is proposed to go from near the Wisconsin-Iowa border to the Cardinal Middleton substation on US 14. The companies cannot say where the electricity will go from there.

The line is one of eight planned for Wisconsin by the Midwest Independent Service Organization (MISO), a private organization controlled by utility and related organizations. The CHC line is the last one planned. The most recently approved and mostly constructed is the, separate, Badger Coulee line that can be newly seen entering the Cardinal sub-station from the north of highway 14. As late as 2013 ATC was still discussing various routes for Badger Coulee and now tower construction is near complete!

The CHC line will go through our communities regardless of which of two routes are taken. While the article mentions that 110 towns, villages and counties have passed resolutions questioning or opposing the line few details are given. Even more concerning is the fact that there is no mention of the absolute refusal of ATC and the others to answer any questions.

The resolution of the Town of Vermont, passed last June, highlights the need to analyze alternatives to the transmission system. These “non-transmisson alternatives” include increasingly efficient appliances, light bulbs and the like, smart grid load management and local generation and distribution of electricity.

None of the previous applications have even considered these options instead of new transmission lines. A study by a national engineering firm estimated that investing $30 million in such measures would have given the same benefits as the $650 million projected for the Badger Coulees line. The resolution asks if this the best way to spend our millions in the coming years.

Most importantly the article makes no mention of the refusal of ATC to meet with local communities. In January, 2017 the chairs of Arena, Wyoming, and Vermont sent a written request, along with questions to be answered, for a public meeting with ATC plans were to meet at the Arena town hall and dates in March were offered. Jon Calloway, pubic relations with ATC, responded with a big NO.

He wrote they would then have to meet with all the other communities affected, the questions would require an engineer to answer and that all the information needed could be found on the CHC website. This last is a mean spirited joke where you can see for yourself poor information.

ATC and company refuse to answer questions or meet on record. This insulting stonewalling is nowhere reported in the article. We need more complete reporting that stresses the needs of the citizens and not mainly those of giant corporations making millions that will come out of our electrical bills.

We deserve better coverage in our Madison newspaper. Our local newspapers can fill this void.

Michael McDermott

Chair, Vermont Citizens Powerline Action Committee


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