Original Date: June 2011 From the Coulee Region Sierra Club Newsletter of the Coulee Region Group
Xcel Energy, Dairyland Power and nine other utilities (CAPX2020) are proposing a 345kV ultra high voltage power line crossing from Minnesota to Alma, Wisconsin and then running either south or east to Madison. Most of the power line will be built by the American Transmission Company. The power line towers will be 15+ stories tall and have a right of way of 150 feet, which will be cleared by eminent domain and maintained by herbicides.
This project will have a major negative impact on scenic beauty, property values and natural habitat. The proposed route from Minnesota to Alma will cross the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, which provides habitat protection for fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, many endangered and threatened plants and a large percentage of migratory birds that use the Flyway. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has asked that the line be buried “due to the large number of eagles, egrets, herons and pelicans that use the sloughs and channels.” With regard to property values realtors agree any kind of power line diminishes property value, with some estimates of reductions of 18-53%. Finally, the purpose of CAPX2020 is not to provide needed electricity for Wisconsin; rather, the transmission of surplus coal-generated electricity from the Dakotas to states east and south of us where the power can be sold cheaply to large markets. ATC and CAPX2020 would have us believe that alternative energy (wind) will be carried on the power lines.
However, although the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission granted a Certificate of Need to CAPX2020 in April 2009 contingent upon the inclusion of wind energy on the power line, three months later, CAPX2020 filed a petition to remove the requirement for wind energy. Unless CAPX2020 can prove their commitment to wind, one must deduce the line is all about coal. Citizens Energy Task Force would like to see the Sierra Club, the Audubon Society and all organizations and individuals promoting the protection of wildlife and sustainability to sponsor one or more forums to address the pros and cons of this power line. For more information go to citizensenergytaskforce.org.
Linda Van Art-member, Citizens Energy Taskforce