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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Open house shows need of new 150-mile transmission line

From an article by Jessica Larsen in the Tomah Journal:

Area residents got their chance on Tuesday to learn about a possible new 150-mile electric transmission line running from La Crosse to Madison.

American Transmission Company announced in July its plans for the 345-kilovolt line after a two-year study. Now the company is making its way to eight cities to host open houses for people to voice their opinions and learn more about the project, which it is calling the Badger Coulee Transmission Line Project. In Tomah, 143 people attended.

According to ATC, the line will improve system reliability, economic savings for utilites and energy consumers and access to additional renewable energy. It will improve electric system reliabilty in western Wisconsin by providing increased regional electric transfer capability into the state and alleviating stabilty issues in the upper Midwest, according to ATC reports. The company’s studies show that building a more efficient high-voltage line offsets the need for about $140 million in lower-voltage ugprades in western Wisconsin.

The route for the line is not set. Per state law, ATC will first look at existing transmission and other electric lines and pipelines. Next, it will turn to state and federal highways and railroads. After that, it will turn to receational trails and lastly will establish new corridors using section lines or property boundries when feasable.

At the open house, residents watched a seven-minute video about the project and then walked around to different stations to talk with ATC staff. People got a chance to leave comments and to give input on where they do not want the lines. Most popular was farm land and near schools.

“We are seeing a lot of curiosity,” said ATC local relations manager Sarah Justus. “We want input, and people appreciate the opportunity to have a stake in it. ... We don’t know everything there is to know.”

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