WMSN FOX 47
 

FOX47 NEWS - Power Line Proposal

Jeff Angileri
Mar 24, 2009, 10:53 PM


Madison at night is a sea of lights, and now the company that owns Wisconsin's power grid says more lines are needed to keep up with demand.

Power use in Dane County has more than doubled since 1980, according to MG&E.

Now, the American Transmission Company (ATC) wants to built a 345 kilovolt line from the Rockdale substation near Christiana to West Middleton, to keep up with demand. One proposal runs north, along the beltline. The other route goes south, through rural towns and farmland. Connections through Fitchburg, Verona, and Oregon are also possible. Supporters of the plan say it will make power more reliable.

It will continue to promote economic development, it can be constructed at a resaonable cost, and it will provide capacity to meet future electrical demand, said Diane Hesselbein of Middleton.

The plan would cost from $215 million to $245 million.

Ultimatley, it is rate payers within ATC service territory -- two-thirds of Wisconsin, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan -- who will bear the cost for this project, said Sarah Justus, ATC local relations manager.

Besides likely rate hikes, opponents of the plan are worried about the environmental impacts. They say no matter which location is chosen, the real estate there will be affected by what they call an electrical highway.

Would you want to put a highway in an area of small houses and farms in rural Dane County, or would you rather put it near an existing highway? asked Jim Danky, with Preserve Our Rural Landscape.

Property values of all the homes in the neighborhoods would be severly degraded by the aesthetic impact of enormous towers, by the health concerns associated with high voltage lines, said Robert Meyer of Madison.

Some people question whether the increased capacity is even needed.

I don't think building more, more, more, is going to help, said Steve Books of Mt. Horeb. I think we need to work on conserving, conserving, conserving.

Madison's reliance on importing power is another reason the increased capacity lines are necessary, according to ATC.

Dane County imports anywhere from 70% to 100% of its energy, depending on the day.

The Public Service Commission will issue its final decision on the project by July 6th. ATC could start approaching property owners as early as next year. If approved, the company expects the project will be complete by 2013.

There are two more public hearings on this project scheduled for Wednesday, March 25th. They start at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. at the PSC's headquarters at 610 North Whitney Way in Madison.

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