TOWN OF HOLLAND, Wis. (WXOW) – A current project to increase power transmission lines in Western Wisconsin has seen its fair share of disagreement with the public.
The proposed Badger Coulee Project, which would add 345-kilovolt power lines, would increase transmission lines from La Crosse to Madison at an estimated cost between $540-$580 million.
Xcel Energy and American Transmission Company, who would jointly develop the project, say it needs the extra lines to meet the growing demand for electricity—but homeowners who would find themselves in the shadow of these lines are trying to stop it.
With the current proposal, a big chunk of the line would stem off of Briggs Road Substation at the edge of Northern Onalaska.
“This helps us move energy more efficiently, more effectively, and more cost-effectively,” American Transmission Company spokesperson Kaya Freiman said.
The project could span between 160 and 180 miles, and Freiman said the benefits would outweigh the cost. “It could save hundreds of millions of dollars over the 40-year life of the line,” Freiman said.
The power lines would cut right through Holland, and affect Holland Neighborhood Preservation Association (H.N.P.A.) Secretary Christine Hirschfield’s neighborhood, and sit right next to her home.
“We know there is a need for power. We understand that, but we’re just saying that they shouldn’t be built right through small, residential neighborhoods,” Hirschfield said.
Hirschfield said the power lines would reduce the property value of her home and her neighboring homes, and she suggests changes to the current proposal.
“Bury the lines. Run it with the already approved CapX2020 line. We’ve been told, and I’ve heard at other meetings, that it’s doable, it just takes some creative engineering. I just don’t understand what the benefit is to the town of Holland with these lines,” Hirschfield said.
The Public Service Commission (P.S.C.) will weigh many factors before a final decision is made, and they said the public’s voice is their greatest resource.
Before the project is given the green light, the P.S.C. has to approve it. A decision could be made by April 2015. If approved, the Badger Coulee line would connect to the CapX2020 power line project coming from Southeast Minnesota.
The P.S.C. will hold four more public meetings through next Tuesday. The next meeting is on Tuesday at Cashton Community Hall from 3:00 p.m. until 8:30.