Holmen village administrator Scott Heinig was disappointed with the Public Service Commission’s decision to approve a high-voltage power line from Rochester, Minn., to Holmen but was relieved commissioners agreed to route it around the village’s land targeted for future growth.
The 345-kv line will follow Hwy. 35 for about three miles to a new Briggs Road substation, according to a plan approved Thursday by the three-member commission. An earlier proposal had the line cutting a 150-foot swath through Holmen’s growth corridor, which includes Prairie View Elementary and the site of a future middle school.
“This is still an atrocity for our community and for north county,” Heinig said, noting it could still impact the growth corridor.
The exact locations of towers have not been determined, but maps provided by Xcel Energy show the line will cross Hwy. 53 just north of the intersection with Hwy. 35 and run along the highway to Briggs Road.
“Keeping that within the Hwy. 53 corridor is probably going to be the most favorable option to avoid impact to those delicate areas,” Heinig said. “It still will have a visual impact on our community without question.”
The approved route follows Hwy. 35 from Alma and then veers east just north of Trempealeau and cuts through Galesville before heading south to Holmen. It avoids the Van Loon State Wildlife Area, where the Department of Natural Resources said it would not issue permits because of impacts to sensitive wetlands.
Galesville Mayor John Graf was out of the country and could not be reached Thursday.
Heinig noted that bringing the CapX2020 line into Holmen sets the stage for a proposed Badger Coulee high-voltage line to run south from Holmen to Onalaska.
Of the possible routes suggested by American Transmission Company, three run from proposed substations near Arcadia and Galesville and across Jackson County before following the Interstate 94/90 corridor.
Other options run from a proposed substation north of Holmen through La Crosse, Monroe and Juneau counties to the I-90 corridor. One route follows I-90 to Sparta and Hwy. 71 through Wilton. Another follows Hwy. 16 to Rockland, veers south to Cashton and then east to the Interstate.
American Transmission Co. expects to decide by fall on at least two possible routes connecting CapX to Madison that will be proposed to the Public Service Commission in early 2013.
“This is just the beginning,” Heinig said.
The village board passed a resolution in opposition, as did the La Crosse County board and other municipal governments along the route.
“I just see this as a very disappointing decision,” said Marilyn Pedretti, clerk for town of Holland and a La Crosse County supervisor. “I was hoping they would see there really isn’t a need and doing more localized energy… Instead they’re sticking with 1950s technology.”
U.S. Rep. Ron Kind voiced disappointment with the PSC’s approval process and encouraged residents to contact both the PSC and ATC about the Badger Coulee line.
“This process has been confusing and the decision making secretive,” Kind said in a news release. “I’m disappointed in the way this decision was made.”