American Transmission Company and Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) will file two route alternatives for the proposed 345-kV Badger Coulee line with Wisconsin state regulators in 2013, an ATC spokesperson told TransmissionHub Oct. 8.
Anne Spaltholz, manager of corporate communications at ATC, said the preferred route goes along I-94 from Dane County to Black River Falls, then west to Blair and south to Holmen, while the alternate route goes north close to the interstate to Portage and then travels northwest alongside Highway 16. This route then goes west at Lyndon Station and proceeds north to Rockland. It then travels west alongside I-90 to Onalaska, ending in Holmen, she added.
“The northern route is about $500m and it’s about 170 miles,” she said. “That particular route, more than 90% of those 170 miles use existing utility and federal and state highway corridors. That compares with the southern route, which is about 60% shared corridors and the … cost estimate is about $475m and it’s about 160 miles.”
The Midwest ISO (MISO) has identified the line as a multi-value project, so the costs will be spread across the MISO footprint, she said.
“We actually started the routing and siting process over two years ago and did a considerable public outreach with landowners, public officials other stakeholders,” she said. “We started with dozens of route options and over the course of the last two years, based on that feedback as well as environmental analysis and actually going out in the field in these areas and observing whether specific corridors were suitable or not, we’ve now reached the point where we’re down to two route options.”
The companies said Oct. 5 that open houses will be held on Oct. 23-25 and 29-30. The open house format allows attendees to drop in at any time and discuss the project with ATC and Xcel Energy staff. There will be representatives from various areas including transmission planning, engineering, real estate, environmental and construction.
The companies also said that studies indicate that the project would deliver benefits to Wisconsin and the Midwest by improving electric system reliability, delivering economic benefits for Wisconsin utilities and electricity consumers, and expanding infrastructure to support greater use of renewable energy. If the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) approves the project, the final project length and cost will be determined after the PSC selects a route.
The line, if approved, may be in service in late 2017, Spaltholz said.