Residents of Sauk and Columbia counties may soon be living with the high-capacity transmission line known as the Badger Coulee line, proposed to connect La Crosse and Madison. It would run on 150-foot towers through the Wisconsin River valley between Wisconsin Dells and Portage.
Proponents like to describe the Badger Coulee and projects like it as similar to new highways that meet the future energy needs of Wisconsin. In fact, large transmission lines are like a highway, but unfortunately they’re often the kind of highway you have to live next to and look at, but which most of us can’t actually get on.
The initial cost of building the system of generating plants and transmission lines that are the backbone of our electric grid is paid for by investors who own or finance power utilities. They get paid back by everyone who uses electricity when we pay our utility bills. Our Wisconsin Public Service Commission is the watchdog that makes sure our monopoly utilities only build the system we actually need, and that utilities charge reasonable rates.
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