Portion of CapX 2020 power line now operating - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Portion of CapX 2020 power line now operating

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Holmen, WI (WXOW) -

Nine years in the making and now the power line that stretches 90 miles through Minnesota to Wisconsin is now energized and operating.

It's part the largest transmission expansion in the Upper Midwest in decades.

The Wisconsin portion of a power line stretching from Minnesota down to the La Crosse area is now complete. 
    
Energy providers say it will open up new avenues for reliable and renewable energy but that does not mean it was without opposition.

"It's like having an energy super highway into Western Wisconsin," Ben Poarth with Dairyland Power said.

The 345 Kilovolt power line will stretch from Hampton, Minn. through Rochester and cross the Mississippi into Wisconsin in Alma and then make it's way down to Holmen. Now the Wisconsin stretch is complete.

"This is going to bring increased reliability impacts to Western Wisconsin. It's going allow us to more easily to take maintenance and upgrade outages on other existing facilities to maintain the high reliability in this region," Poarth said. 

Construction to the Wisconsin side began in the fall of 2013 and by September 15 of this year it was fully operating. 

"It took us longer to permit the project than it actually did to construct it," Poarth said.

CapX 2020 had to complete a full environmental statement at the federal level just to cross the Mississippi River.

But not everyone was on board. Many didn't want to see the line go up for both environmental and aesthetic reasons, along with public health concerns.

"Some of the opponents to the line say it's not necessary because electric use is down and what is true is we're not growing as fast as we thought before but electric use is still growing, at least particularly in the La Crosse area," Grant Stevenson, senior project manager with Xcel Energy said. 

State regulators investigated those concerns and found the improvements were still needed. 

The Hampton-Rochester-La Crosse Transmission Line is a joint project owned by five energy companies across Minnesota and Wisconsin. That includes Dairyland Power Cooperative here and La Crosse and Xcel Energy.

When complete, the $500 million project will have 150 miles of constructed power lines and three new substations. 

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