Public weighs in on proposed routes for power line project

HOLMEN, Wis.– The public had another chance to sound off Monday night on a controversial power line project that would run through our area.  People gathered in Holmen to weigh in on proposed routes for the CapX2020 project.

Construction on the project is making its way closer and closer to Wisconsin and it’s been a topic of controversy from the very start.  Monday night’s meeting was specifically a discussion on possible routes through Holmen.

One of the biggest complaints is the massive size of the power poles.  The current plan is to have the project cross over into Wisconsin near Alma, and then make its way down towards the La Crosse area.  But Xcel Energy says this is a chance for the public to suggest alternatives.


“There’s trade-offs.  There are several routes being considered.  If we put the route in one spot, there’s impacts to one group people, maybe more environmental-related impacts. If you put the project some place else, it may have more impacts on people and human development, so those are the kinds of trade-offs,” says CapX2020 Permitting Manager Tom Hillstrom.

Energy officials say the project is needed to meet growing energy demand.  Critics say the transmission lines will cripple property values and may lead to health and environmental problems.  That’s why some would like to see a different conversation altogether.

“What the Xcel people are talking about tonight is what route would be wise or what would be best and what really needs to be discussed is do we need this power line at all and we don’t think it’s needed at all,” says Joe Morse from Citizens Energy Task Force.

The state will begin holding public hearings on the project starting in March.  Hearings are already planned in Centerville and Alma.

Last week, the La Crosse County Board passed a resolution officially opposing the project.  That is filed with the state Public Service Commission, which ultimately has the final say on if and where the transmission lines can be built.