Wisconsin town passes resolution opposing alignment of Badger Coulee line

The plan commission of Onalaska, Wis., has unanimously approved a resolution opposing an alignment for the proposed Badger Coulee transmission line that would bring the line through the town south of Holmen. Commission members told TransmissionHub they hope the resolution approved at the May 22 meeting will influence the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) to approve the route with the least impact.

“I’m not opposed to it coming through; I’m opposed to it coming through the French Valley area and the country club,” Onalaska Mayor Mike Giese told TransmissionHub May 30. “The one proposed route goes right through a big, planned development [and] would greatly diminish the value of that development.”

Alderperson Dan Ferries, also a member of the plan commission, agrees with Giese.

“My position is, if It’s going to come through, let’s encourage the [PSC] to look at the least invasive route that we can,” Ferries told TransmissionHub on May 29. “We want it to take the route that would influence the fewest people.”

The resolution opposes the planned grid expansion of the American Transmission Company (ATC) lines and specifically the 345-kV power line crossing through lands that are part of the city of Onalaska.

“I don’t know what the energy needs are going to be in 10 years … so I’m not questioning [whether] that might be a need,” he said. However, he wants to see the PSCW approve a route that is “the least invasive to any people. If there’s more of a rural area, less parcels that you have to negotiate with to go through.”

At present, there has been little expressed public opposition to the Badger Coulee line, Ferries said.

“The [Alma-La Crosse] CapX2020 line that stopped in Holman received quite a bit of opposition,” Ferries said. “If [ATC] came out and said, ‘This is the route that we’re gonna go,’ and it was one of them that we’d prefer not to, I think you’d see a lot of the residents come out and speak against it.”

ATC has proposed several routes for the Badger Coulee line that would connect to the proposed Briggs Road substation near the village of Holmen and would cross the city of Onalaska before heading east.

The final routing will depend on a number of factors, including public input and the final site of a new substation that will be built north of La Crosse as part of the project.

Studies indicate that the approximately $425m project will deliver benefits to Wisconsin and the Midwest region by improving electric system reliability, delivering economic benefits for Wisconsin utilities and electric consumers, and expanding the infrastructure to support greater incorporation of renewable sources of energy, the company said in a statement.

According to ATC’s project web site, the company plans to submit an application to the PSCW in 2013. Presuming the project is approved, the company plans to start construction in 2016 with an anticipated in-service date of 2018.

Giese said he would welcome the opportunity to sit down with ATC representatives and find a mutually acceptable solution.  “I’m fine with the line; I just don’t want it to go through some of our most valuable development land,” he said.

This story was updated May 30 to include comments from Onalaska Mayor Bill Giese.