Badger Coulee Transmission Line to travel through northern route

Town of Holland chair calls it 'foolish decision'

The Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) voted Thursday to approve the Badger Coulee Transmission Line Project, selecting the northern route through the Town of Holland.

The 345-kilovolt high-voltage transmission line will connect to the CapX2020 line at the Briggs Road Substation in Holmen, travel north to Black River Falls, and follow the I-94 corridor to Madison. (The blue line in the above image shows the approved route from a previously released map.)

The project is estimated to cost up to $580 million.

“This foolish decision was short-sighted but the harm to our community will be permanent,” Town of Holland Chair David Carlson said.

Carlson said the Town is “disappointed and shocked with the decision” that the PSC approved the P-East route.  The Town of Holland continues to argue that the Badger Coulee Transmission Line was not needed, stating that “long-term research and learning in energy efficiency is now paying dividends in the form of reduced electrical growth and even falling electrical use.”

“The Commission had the opportunity to allow investment in our communities that would keep dollars here, in Wisconsin, where they belong.  Instead it decided to approve a power line that will pump money out of our state and leave us with a legacy of permanent blight and ugliness,” Carlson said.

Even though Onalaska won’t be affected by the new transmission line, they understand the frustration by communities that are impacted by the project.

“We would prefer that this power line just not happen so we had a half victory today. you know, I really feel for the Town of Holland because I know how I’d feel,” Onalaska Mayor Joe Chilsen said.

Senator Jennifer Shilling released the following statement:

“I appreciate all of the testimony and public input from individuals, local businesses and community organizations throughout this process. Over the past four years, I have joined a bipartisan group of legislators to repeatedly request that the PSC complete a full needs assessment of the project and provide more opportunities for the public to take part in the process. I am disappointed that our requests were not met and encourage more opportunities for public input moving forward.
“Our state’s energy infrastructure and sustainability efforts are critically important to local communities and the future of our state. As we continue to discuss and debate the direction of Wisconsin’s energy future, I hope that local residents will remain engaged in the decision-making process.”

Rep. Steve Doyle released the following statement:

“As the representative for the 94th Assembly District, my constituents and I have been watching this case very closely. The two proposed alternatives both crossed through this district, with the northern route going through the Town of Holland and the southern route intersecting the City of Onalaska.

“I am disappointed that the people who are going to be affected didn’t get a greater and more meaningful opportunity to influence the outcome. The residents of the 94th Assembly District have been very vocal in their concerns regarding the project and I am grateful that they continually included me in their communications to the PSC.

“I am proud to have joined with my legislative colleagues to repeatedly ask the PSC for a full needs assessment on this project, which would have opened the door for even more public input in the process. Unfortunately, this request was not met but I hope that it will not discourage the public from continuing to take part in these proceedings.

“As we move into the 21st century, it is more important than ever that we ensure that our energy infrastructure is strong. The debate on Wisconsin’s energy future is far from over and I hope that my constituents will continue to play such an active role.”

Joe Kruse, CAO of Mayo Clinic Health System Franciscan Healthcare, released the following statement:

“Mayo Clinic Health System – Franciscan Healthcare would like to thank the Public Service Commission for its thoroughness in making this decision. As a large consumer of energy, we are supportive of efforts to meet future energy needs of the Midwest. Our concern about the “west” option (which routes through Onalaska) was its potential to impede emergency and patient flow to and from the Sand Lake Road parcel, which is under development for a future care facility. We look forward to moving forward with developing plans that will create smooth entrance and exit for patients.”