“We may disagree with the PSC over who needs the power lines and why, but there should be no question that the process to plan and approve energy infrastructure should be transparent, comprehensive, and accountable to the citizens and ratepayers it is meant to serve,” said Debra Severson, who participated in the filings on behalf of the groups. Severson continued, “By choosing to ignore rather than address valid concerns, the PSC raises questions over whose interests they serve.”
New information cited by the groups in the request included minimal or declining growth in electrical demand, increased potential to further reduce demand, changes in La Crosse area electrical resources, and a Wisconsin court ruling regarding land-owner compensation.
More than three thousand individuals and ninety municipalities have asked for comprehensive analysis of alternatives to regional transmission. The lack of this analysis remains a point of contention for both CapX2020 and the Badger Coulee – the next section of new transmission lines that utilities hope will follow.
CapX2020 transmission would stretch form the Dakotas into Wisconsin near La Crosse. The Wisconsin segment was approved in May 2012. The proposed Badger Coulee line would plug into CapX2020 in the La Crosse area and travel non-stop to Madison, where energy from the Dakotas could be transferred further south and east.
The ability to transfer large amounts of electricity from the Dakotas both to and beyond Wisconsin was a driving force in approving CapX2020, and would require constructing the Badger Coulee line. Because of this, the groups feel the PSC should have considered the $514-$548 million Badger Coulee cost, and to not do so is misleading to the public and over-values the purported project benefits.
The Badger Coulee application has been submitted, but not yet considered complete by the PSC. SOUL is providing education so citizens can document their concerns during the Badger Coulee “scoping” meetings. These meetings will be sponsored by the PSC during preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement for Badger Coulee. Additionally, SOUL has applied for legal participant status in hearings on the Badger Coulee application.
Attorney Carol Overland, who filed the request on behalf of SOUL and CETF, said the groups are evaluating other activities to undertake to address CapX2020 concerns, before construction of the line begins in Wisconsin.