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Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States

Badger Coulee (Amer. Transmission Co.) power line project hits speed bump

| Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Jul 14, 2011 The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at

Original date: February 10, 2011

State regulators want more information before they will further consider CapX2020’s application to route a
high-voltage line through three western Wisconsin counties.

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin recently sent the energy company consortium a three-page list
containing almost 100 data requests on the proposed project, which would extend in the state from Alma to a
substation to be built in the town of Onalaska.

The requests range from updated cost estimates for the plan and any alternative routes to potential effects on
wetlands and grasslands to asking why aerial photos for La Crosse County were in black and white.

Both CapX2020 and PSC officials said the move was not unusual or unexpected.

“It’s just the nature of the process. They (the PSC) need to have all the data available at their fingertips before
they begin,” said Xcel Energy’s Tom Hillstrom, permitting leader for the Hampton, Minn., to La Crosse
segment of the project.

Critics of the project contend the new line is not needed and could harm property values, the environment and
tourism in the region. The Wisconsin DOT also has raised concerns the line could detract from Hwy. 35, part of
the Great River Road National Scenic Byway.

Hillstrom estimated it would take a month to gather the additional information, with the PSC then having
another 30 days to review. He did not expect it to alter the project’s timeline, with construction of the 345-
kilovolt line still set to start in 2013 and be in service by December 2015.

The PSC must declare the application complete to proceed with the public review and an environmental review
and impact statement, a likely year-long process.

The $450 million CapX2020 project would extend 120 to 145 miles in Minnesota and Wisconsin, crossing the
Mississippi River at Alma before cutting 40 to 55 miles through Buffalo, Trempealeau and La Crosse counties.

CapX2020’s application to the PSC in January had three route options, all tying to the 10-acre substation to be
added near Hwy. 53 and Briggs Road in the town of Onalaska.


About John Farrell

John Farrell directs the Energy Democracy initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and he develops tools that allow communities to take charge of their energy future, and pursue the maximum economic benefits of the transition to 100% renewable power. More

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