Wisconsin regulators question CapX2020 power-line proposal

From an article by Mary Juhl in the La Crosse Tribune:

WINONA, Minn. – The Wisconsin Public Service Commission isn’t convinced the La Crosse-area population will increase enough to justify a proposed $450 million, 345-kilovolt transmission line.

The proposed CapX2020 line would extend about 150 miles from Hampton, Minn., to the La Crosse area, crossing the Mississippi River at Alma and ending at a new substation near Holmen. Construction would begin in 2013, with the line in service by 2015.

The Public Service Commission, a state regulatory agency, released a preliminary review of the project this week that questioned some CapX2020 projections.

“The applicants state that the growing demand for electricity in the La Crosse/Winona area would exceed the capabilities of the existing electrical system to deliver power reliably under contingency conditions,” the agency stated in its report. “At this time, that conclusion is still being questioned.”

CapX2020 officials have projected the demand for electricity in the Winona and La Crosse area to increase significantly over the next 20 years, by 1.7 percent annually. Referencing its own data, the Public Service Commission says that estimate is high because projected population growth has slowed.

CapX2020 power line project gets federal fast-track

From an article by Chris Hubbuch in the La Crosse Tribune:

The White House announced plans Wednesday to speed up federal approval of a controversial high voltage power line planned for the area.

The CapX2020 line, which will connect power stations in Hampton, Minn., Rochester and La Crosse, was one of seven projects tagged by the Obama administration as key for creating jobs while modernizing the nation’s electric system.

“To compete in the global economy, we need a modern electricity grid,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement. “An upgraded electricity grid will give consumers choices while promoting energy savings, increasing energy efficiency and fostering the growth of renewable energy resources.”

The accelerated process will not affect state approval processes already under way, said Sahar Wali, spokeswoman for the Council on Environmental Quality. It will instead speed up federal processing by encouraging cooperation between agencies.

Tim Carlsgaard, spokesman for the consortium of utility companies including Xcel Energy and Dairyland Power Cooperative, said he hopes that means the federal process will be done by the time Minnesota and Wisconsin complete their reviews, likely in mid 2012.

CapX will need federal approval from as many as four federal agencies, including the Rural Utility Service. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Army Corps of Engineers will also have a say in how and where the line crosses the Mississippi River near Alma, Wis.

Joe Morse is a spokesman for the Citizens Energy Task Force, which opposes the project. He thinks the federal government is overstepping its bounds and pressuring states to hasten approval despite local opposition. Several towns have passed resolutions opposing the line, and a La Crosse County committee this week asked for more study.

Public meeting on power line Wednesday

From an article in the Juneau County Star:

The company that wants to build an electrical transmission line from Middleton to north of La Crosse will host an open house meeting in Mauston for the public next week.

Plans by American Transmission Company for the Badger Coulee line, introduced in 2010, are moving into phase 2.

The company says Badger Coulee is needed to bring less expensive power from states to the west into the Upper Midwest and to improve the reliability of Wisconsin’s electric transmission grid over the long term. “We’re looking out 10, 20, 30, 40 years,” said Sarah Justus, local relations manager for the company.

If the line is built, it would add about 75 cents a month to a $100 utility bill, Justus said.

The company has examined a broad swath from south-central to western Wisconsin and identified dozens of corridors to consider for the project, which will carry 345 kilovolts of electricity over 150 miles and will cost about $425 million.

Most of the possible routes for the line suggested by the company would cross the southwest corner of Juneau County along existing highways, including Interstate 90/94, U.S. Highway 12 and state highways 80, 82 and 58. . . .

The public open house is scheduled for 1 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 29, at Grayside Elementary School, 510 Grayside Ave., Mauston.

New ATC transmission line project surges ahead

From an article by Judy Newman in the Wisconsin State Journal:

About 40,000 homes and businesses from Middleton to north of La Crosse are getting letters this week from American Transmission Co. telling them a powerful electrical transmission line could be built within 3,000 feet — or about half a mile — and inviting them to public meetings later this month.

Plans for the so-called Badger Coulee line, introduced in 2010, are moving into phase 2. ATC has taken the broad swath from south-central to western Wisconsin and identified dozens of corridors to consider for the project, which will carry 345 kilovolts of electricity over 150 miles and will cost about $425 million.

• In Dane County, the line could run north from the town of Middleton or it could skirt the west edge of Waunakee and go through DeForest’s north side, then head up Highway 12, Interstate 39 or Highway 51.

• It could run along the edge of communities such as Prairie du Sac, Lodi, Poynette, Portage, West Baraboo, Elroy or Viroqua. It also could travel through Reedsburg, Wisconsin Dells or Mauston.

• Richland County will be spared.

The area being studied has been expanded north into Trempealeau and Jackson counties. That’s because the Badger Coulee line might meet up with CapX2020, a 700-mile series of mostly 345-kilovolt lines stretching from the Dakotas. CapX2020 proposes to cross into Wisconsin at Alma, in Buffalo County.

Wisconsin rules CapX 2020 transmission project app incomplete

From an article by Sarah Elmquist in the Winona (MN) Post:

A portion of the proposed CapX2020 electric transmission lines that would connect Alma, Wis. to a substation near Holmen, Wis. hit a snag this week, after the Public Service Commission (PSC) of Wisconsin determined the lengthy application was incomplete. The PSC included dozens of detailed requirements for information and documents that need to be added to the application for the project to be considered, including areas in the application where environmental review was deemed insufficient, where greater information was needed, and where the utilities need to further explore the ways that efficiency programs might change electricity use projections.

Two possible routes have been proposed for this portion of the CapX2020 project. One would run along the Mississippi River from Alma, Wis., to the La Crosse area. The other would travel from Alma east to Arcadia and then south to La Crosse.