The town of Holland has challenged a decision by Wisconsin regulators to allow a high-voltage transmission line between Holmen and Dane County.
The Public Service Commission recently issued its final decision on the proposed Badger-Coulee project, formalizing a decision the panel made in March to permit the power line, and approved a route that would cut through the suburban La Crosse County community.
In a petition for judicial review filed in La Crosse County Circuit Court, the town argues the project is not needed. The decision “rests on deficient environmental analysis,” is predicated “on material errors of law and fact,” violates governing statutes and departs from PSC policy on routing, according to the petition.
The town is asking the court to send the matter back to the PSC “for a better analysis and an improved Environmental Impact Statement.”
The PSC did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment. A spokeswoman for ATC declined to comment.
A joint venture of Xcel Energy and American Transmission Co., the 345-kilovolt line will originate at a substation under construction near Briggs Road that is part of CapX2020, another high-voltage transmission project running across Minnesota and Western Wisconsin. Crews are at work raising towers along the $211 million portion of that project between Alma and Holmen, with work expected to be completed this summer.
ATC and Xcel say the project will improve system reliability, deliver cheaper power and provide a pipeline for wind energy from Minnesota and Iowa to population centers to the east.
The three-member commission, all appointed by Gov. Scott Walker, agreed, allowing the estimated $580 million cost to be passed on to ratepayers in Wisconsin and other Midwestern states.
Opponents contend Wisconsin’s energy use is flat, and the line will allow utilities to profit by trading energy while discouraging more cost-effective local alternatives such as energy efficiency and solar power.
Citing relatively flat projections from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the town argues that underlying assumptions about the growing demand for electricity “do not stand up.”
“This is no time to be forcing people to underwrite massive new investments in transmission lines,” Town Chairwoman Kathy Warzynski said in a statement.
The town also objects to the approved route, which will travel north from Holmen to Black River Falls and then along the Interstate 94 corridor to the outskirts of Madison.
“Our community is already reeling from the effects of the CapX eyesore under construction alongside Hwy 53,” Warzynski said. “Now we are expected to accept another right-of-way a few feet away on the other side of the highway.”
Other opponents of the project have vowed to appeal the PSC decision but have not committed to legal action.
“What we want to do is get the court to look at this,” said town Clerk Marilyn Pedretti. “It’s not a valid decision in our opinion.”