LA CROSSE, Wis. - A proposed project that would enhance power throughout the Midwest is getting some attention. That's because there's potential the massive power line would run directly through our area.
Studies indicate that the proposed transmission line would offer economic benefits to Wisconsin and the entire Midwest region. American Transmission Company, the business leading the project, says there are no doubt impacts to the communities where these power lines would run. That's why the company is holding open houses, to get input from community members who would be affected.
The approximate 150 mile high voltage power line would run from north of the La Crosse area to northern Dane County near Madison.
Manager of major projects with American Transmission Company, Dale Burmester, says the project is necessary if Wisconsin wants to tap into renewable power sources from the West and reduce congestion on the existing system.
"You can think of transmission of being the highways of the electric system. So, by building highways through an area you reduce congestion on the local system so your local streets and roads are less congested by having a highway going through the area,” said Burmester.
Right now ATC is in phase two of a four phase process. Maps shows all the possible corridors that run from La Crosse to Madison. Next spring these will be narrowed to preliminary routes and in the fall it will be narrowed to one proposed route before ATC submits an application to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin.
"These are still very broad corridors. Many different areas. A lot of them focused on existing infrastructure of one type of another,” said Sarah Justus, spokesperson for ATC.
Susan Stetter's home sits on property in north Holmen where one of the possible transmission lines could be routed.
If that route is chosen, a 130 foot power line tower carrying 345 kilovolts of electricity could be 100 feet from her home.
"These power lines are not good for your health. They're not good for children. They can cause cancer. And they're noisy. They're dangerous to be around,” said Stetter.
Stetter says another concern for her is that the La Crosse area could not directly utilize the power.
"It's so strong that it has to be cut down to come through our lines in Holmen. They're bypassing us and going to Madison,” said Stetter.
The project is estimated to cost about $425 million. ATC says the effect this cost would have on customers would be less than one percent of your total energy bill.
By holding several open houses, ATC learns how best to chose routes for the project.
"We get a better sense for what are the values for this community, what's important in this community and that really affects how we go about our routing process,” said Justus.
Once a proposed route is approved, the American Transmission Company wants to start construction on the Badger Coulee Transmission line in 2016. The line would not be in service until 2018. All of this is contingent on getting approval from the state.
The Badger Coulee Transmission Line Project would connect with the Cap X 2020 project that runs from the Twin Cities through Rochester into the La Crosse area.