Badger Coulee transmission line to cause business major landscape change

$580 million line will run from Holmen to northern Dane County

The Wisconsin Public Service Commission has voted to approve the 345-kilovolt Badger Coulee Transmission line.

The $580 million line will run from Holmen to northern Dane County.

It’s expected to provide lower-cost power and more renewable energy to the region, but it will also be forcing property owners to make some landscape changes.

Thursday’s decision by the PSC was the verbal order. The line is still technically approved, but there is still almost a month until the American Transmission Company can officially begin talking to property owners about how this 180-mile line will impact their land.

Whispering Pines Campground in Holmen relies on its land to stay in business, but this high voltage line is headed right through its property.

The Badger Coulee Transmission line will begin at the substation off Highway 53 and Briggs Road near Holmen. It will mostly follow Highway 53 North toward Blair, before heading East toward Black River Falls, then following Interstate 94 to Dane County.

“The northern route follows a significant amount of existing infrastructure. That is one of the higher priorities that the commission looks at according to Wisconsin state statute when selecting a route for a project,” said Kaya Freiman, spokesperson for ATC said.

When the northern route was chosen, Whispering Pines owner Alex Parcher knew that meant it was going right through his campground.

“From what we understood, they’re going to come in approximately 60-70 feet into our campground so we would lose our tree buffer line,” Parcher said.

The big trees block out the noise of passing cars from the highway. If the Badger Coulee line cuts them all down, the campground might need to look into a new name.

“No one really wants to be next to the road with no buffer line so we’ll probably end up affecting 20 some sites that we have here,” Parcher said.

He said he hasn’t spoken to the ATC yet, but has heard construction isn’t expected to begin near his campground until 2017, leaving him time to plan ahead.

“If they take spots from us, obviously, we’ll have to fill them in somewhere else,” Parcher said. “I know it’s not going to help, I don’t think anybody wants to come out of their camper and look at a power line so I don’t think it will help us.”

Friedman said once the final written order is issued, the ATC will review the official route of the transmission line, then it will begin talking to the property owners affected. The company said more than 600 property owners will be impacted.

The Public Service Commission’s deadline for the written order is April 24. At that point, people can appeal the ruling.

The Badger Coulee line is expected to begin construction in 2016 and be operational in 2018.