The American Transmission Company (ATC) released the maps for its preferred and alternative routes for the Badger Coulee transmission line project on Friday.
The Badger Coulee line is a proposed $425 million, 150- to 170-mile, 345-kilovolt line from north of the La Crosse area to northern Dane County.
ATC says the line is needed to provide electrical infrastructure dependability and allow for energy trading along the nation's electrical grid. A number of grassroots groups throughout Wisconsin are opposed to building the line, saying it's unnecessary considering our nation's growing trend of electric conservation and an already dependable and well-maintained electric infrastructure.
The preferred route follows I-90/I-94 from Madison to Black River Falls. It then travels west to Taylor and goes south into La Crosse County.
The alternate route goes north from Madison to Lyndon Station, then travels west between Elroy and Union Center, skirting northern Vernon County and passing near Ontario and into Cashton. The line then turns north following Hwy. 27 near Sparta before heading west toward Rockland and eventually Onalaska and Holmen.
ATC and Xcel Energy are hosting five open houses where attendees can discuss aspects of the project with ATC and Xcel Energy staff. There will be representatives from a variety of areas, including transmission planning, engineering, real estate, environmental, and construction, according to ATC.
The public is invited to attend any of the following open houses. Open houses at all locations will be held from 1-7 p.m.
Dates and locations of the open houses are:
Oct. 23, Stoney Creek Inn and Conference Center, Onalaska
Oct. 24, Cashton Community Hall, Cashton
Oct. 25, Best Western Arrowhead Lodge & Suites, Black River Falls
Oct. 29, Anjero’s Sports Bar/Grill and Banquet Facility, Mauston
Oct. 30, Waunakee Village Center, Waunakee
ATC and Xcel Energy plan to submit the two routes to the PSC in early 2013. If the project is approved, the PSC will select one final route to be built.
According to ATC, studies indicate constructing the Badger Coulee Line would improve "electric system reliability, delivering economic benefits for Wisconsin utilities and electricity consumers, and expanding infrastructure to support greater use of renewable energy."
Opponents of the line have said that demand for electricity isn't increasing rapidly enough to support constructing such a line and adequate maintenance of the existing electrical system would serve current and future electrical needs. Height of the electrical towers (approximately 170 feet) and the impact on the property along the route are also concerns of opponents.