A multimillion dollar power line project in our area is one step closer to becoming a reality.
Xcel Energy and American Transmission Company filed an application Tuesday to the Wisconsin Public Service Commission to build the 150-mile Badger Coulee Transmission Line.
For the past two and a half years, both Xcel and ATC have held public meetings to hear concerns about the project and to figure out the best route for the project.
Both start in Holmen at the Briggs Road substation.
One option heads up through Trempealeau County and takes Interstate 94 to 90 on its way down to Madison. The other option makes its way through Onalaska and Cashton before weaving its way to Dane County.
Not everyone is on board with the project.
“There's emerging technologies that really could make transmission a dinosaur,” said Debra Severson.
Severson and members of the group Citizens Energy Task Force are concerned about the Badger Coulee Transmission line and its impact on residents.
“I really believe that this is about increasing access to the whole sale energy market so that utilities can trade their energy beyond Wisconsin, and Wisconsin becomes a through-put state,” said Severson.
A spokesperson from Xcel, Tim Carlsgaard said building the line would avoid spending hundreds of millions in upgrades.
The project would serve the greater Midwest Region, but it would also provide lower-cost energy to local customers.
“The higher voltage lines are more efficient and carry more energy,” said Carlsgaard. “You lose less electricity as it’s flown across the line a larger voltage line like this.”
Severson said looking into energy efficiency through locally generated power would be the better route to saving money, creating jobs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
While there are other options like wind or solar energy, Carlsgaard said it's good to have a mix.
“Those renewable energy opportunities are only providing electricity for a small period of time,” said Carlsgaard. “At best, 20 to 25 percent of the time. So where is the energy going to come from the other 75 percent of the time? You need to have a balance of generation.”
The final decision on the project won't be made for a while, and in that time Severson and others will work to make their voices heard.
“We currently have 90 plus municipalities who have signed resolutions asking the Public Service Commission and the utilities to give equal consideration to non-transmission alternatives,” said Severson.
Another concern includes power lines being built in people's back yards that will ruin the scenic views in the area.
The Public Service Commission plans to hold a number of hearings within the next couple of months.
The review process for the application could take up to 18 months.
The project comes with a price tag upwards of $550 million.
If approved, construction would begin in 2016 and should end in 2018.