The Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) has just cause to make history in turning down the application for the Badger Coulee line.
The PSC has never turned down an application for an electrical transmission project in Wisconsin.
Over the next 180 to 360 days, the PSC will consider the fate of the Badger Coulee line, which is being pitched by the American Transmission Co. and Xcel Energy. The Badger Coulee Line is a 345-kilovolt electrical transmission line from Madison to La Crosse.
It’s a $550 million project that in the application phase is already a fossil.
It is part of a spider web of other similar lines. It is not to benefit those who live near it. It is a mechanism by which utilities can “trade” electricity.
Construction of this line is completely unnecessary.
Why create enormous electrical transmission infrastructure at a time when less electricity is being used and the overwhelming trend is to create renewable local energy sources?
Toss out whatever cliché you wish – the 800-pound gorilla in the corner, give it the duck test, identify the elephant in the room – at the end of the day, an unnecessary $550 million power line is still an unnecessary $550 million power line.
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Examining the documents leading up to this moment is a nightmare of tedium. You can find all of the formal documents on the PSC’s website http://psc.wi.gov under the case No. “5-CE-142.” Dating back to 2010 there are more than 350 documents, diagrams, attachments, figures, etc., on this list. None of them reasonably state why the line is needed.
There are cheerleaders for the Badger Coulee line — those who would profit from its construction. This includes the restaurant association and numerous trade unions for whom its construction would provide jobs. We can all agree that restaurants need to serve food and people in the trades need jobs. But they don’t need to get them by building an enormous, unnecessary electrical line.
More importantly, electrical rate payers do not deserve to pay 40 years’ worth of rate hikes for an unnecessary transmission line.
We live in a world where electrical rate payers are buying out solar farms — such as that offered recently at Vernon Electric in Westby. People understand and agree that they want local, renewable, clean energy sources. The Badger Coulee Line is a $550 million 20th century square peg that is being jammed into a 21st century vaporizing round hole.
Our world needs less of everything the Badger Coulee Line represents, not more.
A vote by the PSC to approve the Badger Coulee Line should be viewed historically for what it will be, an enormous money grab that ignores reality and the wishes of state residents, who have overwhelmingly asked for alternatives to this project.
Babies who haven’t been born yet will be approaching middle age and look to the skyline and see this enormous boondoggle on the horizon. If it exists, it will be an epic monument to our failure to recognize their needs.