National, Regional Experts to Assess
Cardinal Hickory Creek Transmission Proposal
Chart Local Energy Futures
FRIDAY, MARCH 2
1 PM - 8:30 PM
318 King St. - Free Admission
Live Video Streaming
Are transmission line evaluations and energy planning as complex and confusing as utilities and officials emphasize? Once better energy directions are identified, what outreach and educational efforts have convinced the public and decision makers across the US to embrace them over expanded transmission?
Clearing our confusions and detailing successful techniques will enjoy highest priority in presentations by fourteen, thoroughly field-tested experts from across the continent during a free, half day energy forum, “STOP CHC: Harnessing our Energy Futures,” in Dodgeville, Wisconsin on Friday, March 2.
The forum starts at 1 pm with three, back to back, multiple expert workshops including time for questions and discussion. Following a networking-dinner break at the Badger Bowl location at 381 King St. three speakers will re-cap the day’s highlights starting at 6:30 pm. Attendees may stroll tables with printed materials and sign-up for new actions hosted by the seven Wisconsin organizations opposing the transmission expansion line and activities of allied organizations.
The six hour forum compresses critical awarenesses to help electric customers, elected officials and social organizers understand electric utilities’ capital expansion emphasis that competes with more cost and environmentally effective solutions preferred by most customers and communities. With this knowledge, citizens can publicly question the utilities’ reluctance to engage communities and talk common sense to lawmakers and the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin.
The event is scheduled on a Friday afternoon to facilitate attendance by state lawmakers. Email your state legislators and ask them if they are planning to attend or view the live video stream.
The forum in Dodgeville, is co-hosted by SOUL of Wisconsin, a 501(3)C organization that has formally intervened in expansion transmission line proposals since 1999 and the Inter-Municipal Energy Planning Committee (IMEPC) a coalition of six municipal governments in Iowa, Dane, Vernon, and Grant counties.Event co-supporters include Driftless Area Land Conservancy, Driftless Defenders, Citizens Steering committee of Grant County, Vermont Citizens Powerline Action Committee, Western Dane Preservation Campaign and 17 supporting organizations and businesses.
Evening speakers include California energy and environmental engineer Bill Powers, long time anti-transmission expansion activist Keryn Newman, of West Virginia and David Clutter, an expert on the lands and local economies under threat. Newman has been a crucial researcher and strategist in efforts leading to successful denials of expansion transmission line proposals in many states. Drawing upon 30 years of experience including authoring three counter proposals for expansion transmission lines in Missouri, California and Wisconsin, Powers will show how No-Wire, locally focused, futures based on accelerated energy efficiency, load management and home-business-community solar guarantee larger economic, reliability and environmental benefits compared to only potential benefits surmised by transmission builders that inexplicably assume customers will return to wasteful ways.
A Community Solar Farm supplying power directly to homes reduces CO2 emissions most effectively by directly reducing use of grid power averaging 74% fossil fuel generation in the Midwest. By lowering power flow through the substation, the solar facility creates three advantages: it prolongs the lifespan of expensive substation components, it shaves peak load lowering electricity costs for all customers and the facility can be installed at rock bottom price. [Illustration by Gary Cox]
Dear Wisconsin Legislator
Runaway Capital Utility Spending 1998-Present
A Simple Way to Better Alternatives
Prior to 1998, every time a Wisconsin utility wanted to build a new a power plant or expansion transmission line, utilities were required to prove to Wisconsin electric customers that their dollars would not be better spent on energy efficiency and local renewable power. In 1998, the PSC reasoned the process of producing head to head comparisons of costs and benefits for electric customers and decision makers to examine could be by-passed.
Seventeen years later, one can examine the official U.S. Department of Energy records for Wisconsin and observe how a modest investment in energy efficiency would have saved billions in lieu of unnecessary utility expansion.
From 1998 to 2015, our actual requirements for electricity grew a record low 11% while the PSC permitted utilities to increase available power generation a record 42%-- more than twice the reserve amount utilities have traditionally considered sufficient. Data
Had Wisconsin been directed - by spending analysis - to make small boosts in energy efficiency (a path many states chose) our use today could be the same as it was in 1998. This reduction would have saved 1.6 years of electricity and associated CO2 emissions. At documented Focus on Energy program benefit rates, the alternative $870 million over 17 years in rebate pools would have delivered more than $3 billion in energy savings and more than $10 billion in economic job creation. Electricity rates would have risen minimally. Data
The course Wisconsin took had very different impacts. Borrowing words from the PSC, Wisconsin’s “continuing spending cycle” on power plants and expansion transmission lines pushed rates up 25 percentage points compared to the national average and also doubled mandatory facility fees penalizing low income households and families who practice conservation. Data
Electric customers have started paying off billions in debt for seven high capacity “expansion” transmission lines that, clearly, did not lower rates and emissions as builders promised. And, as too few policy makers understand, the resulting “system charges” for the un-needed generation and transmission capital dramatically lower the price utilities pay for locally-produced power. These avoidable, negative impacts from long-term, high interest, payments for utility capital will burden our energy economy for decades adding additional challenges for Wisconsin businesses.
A Simple Measure to Restore Cost-Benefit Analysis
Fortunately, common sense analysis can be restored with a corrective measure the PSC can take. Eight Wisconsin legislators have collaborated with five municipal governments and drafted precise language to improve the agency’s application requirements for high-capacity transmission lines to ensure that applicants and PSC staff conduct the same type of cost-benefit analysis done before 1998.
More than twenty of your constituents have co-signed this letter urging you to join lawmakers submitting their personal letters to the PSC commissioners in time to affect the potential PSC review of yet another high capacity transmission proposal, Cardinal Hickory Creek, potentially stretching from Madison to Dubuque, Iowa.
Wisconsin’s share of the long-term debt for regional transmission expansion projects is already averaging more than $400 million per year—eight times the amount we currently invest in residential energy efficiency. Underscoring the need to act now regional utilities are eyeing as many as five more high capacity lines for western and northern Wisconsin.
Electricity use is flat, we have a robust electrical system, there is over-abundance of power in all states and Wisconsin electric customers truly deserve results for the disproportionate expense we assume. Nationally and here in Wisconsin, community solar facilities are being created to remove load from transmission substations significantly prolonging their lifespans and avoiding very costly, long-term capital debt. Facilities that are or will become suitable for community solar support exist in communities of all sizes across our state. Your request to the PSC emphasizes “right-sizing” of our electrical needs to save, rather than add billions in coming decades. It is clearly time to renew cost-benefit analysis of all energy investment options.
Thank you for taking time to add your personal reasons in support of the specified improvements to the PSC’s application requirements. We look forward to tracking progress with you.
Undersigned constitutes with voting addresses.
Sen. Erpenbach/ Rep. Considine’s joint Letter to PSC:
Sen. Shilling letter to PSC (samples)
120 WI Municipal Resolutions asking For Cost-Benefit Analysis
Dane County Resolution Asking For Cost-Benefit Analysis
of Non-Transmission Alternatives
Dane County Board Formally Opposes
CARDINAL HICKORY CREEK LINE
Following the adoption a resolution requesting transmission builders to provide cost-benefit analysis of non-transmission alternatives in July 2017 and subsequent applicant refusal to provide the information, on February 15 ,2018, the Dane County Board of Supervisors voted 33-0-2 to oppose the Cardinal Hickory Creek 345 kV expansion transmission line proposed to stretch from Middleton to Dubuque, IA.
The Dane County resolution states, in part, “Now is the time to begin increasing reliance on advanced technology, robust regional planning, innovative commercial practices and coordinated local system operations rather than to construct the proposed 345 kV transmission line." It goes on to call upon the Wisconsin Public Service Commission, Governor Walker, and the Wisconsin Legislature to oppose the construction and operation of the proposed line."
"The approval of this resolution by a large margin shows that supervisors are very willing to stand up for the rights of both property owners and electric customers," commented Dane County Supervisor Pat Downey after the meeting. Support for the resolution was registered for the Inter-Municipal Energy Planning Committee by Michael McDermott who commended the Board for seeking accountability from the applicants and not being swayed by misleading conjecture that the project would increase the consumption or renewable energy; "There are better ways to meet our environmental and economic goals than to keep building line after line after line."
David Clutter of the Driftless Area Land Conservancy echoed this sentiment, "This is not a green line and it is not about reliability. Experts are observing that demand is flat and will continue to decline for many years. There are lower cost means including energy efficiency and local renewable energy that actually do guarantee results."
Tamlyn Aikins, an artist who organizes regular cultural events in the Town of Vermont, emphasized that the extraordinarily large towers would undercut the natural charm of local economies dependent upon tourism. Land owners in the Town of Vermont have been told real estate agents that the transmission proposal has frozen interest in buying property in the area.
The City of Dubuque, Iowa rejected the Cardinal Hickory Creek transmission proposal in 2014 and Iowa County, WI rejected it in 2016. The Grant County Board is expected to consider a cost benefit analysis resolution in March. The Board was recently told by applicants that they would not assure residents that building a city-scale 345 kV substation near Montfort, WI (pop. 700) would not attract other large lines through Southwest Wisconsin. Added Jon Callaway of American Transmission Company, "Anything is possible." The hard won terms of the meeting allowed the companies used 15 minutes for their presentation leaving only 5 minutes for questions from supervisors. The meeting was the first, formal meeting with government. The transmission builders announced their interest Cardinal Hickory Creek in Fall, 2014.
The value of information request resolutions stemmed from the experiences of more than one hundred municipal governments and nine counties across Wisconsin beginning in 2011. Observes Rob Danielson, Secretary of the Energy Planning and Information Committee of the Town of Stark in Vernon County, "Momentum grew with recognition that transmission builders refuse to provide fundamental electric customer accountability in time for customer feedback to challenge applicant bias. By law, the applicants must prove that a transmission line is in the best interests of the public. When applicants are can refuse to meet with a county to answer questions about need and not violate PSC review process, Dane County's 33--0-2 takes on additional significance. I read this as 33 supervisors seeing the PSC as not doing a complete job and two giving the agency the benefit of doubt."
Indeed, five state lawmakers are trying to address this shortfall by asking the PSC to use its discretion to update the agency's application requirements high voltage transmission lines to include comprehensive, quantitative cost benefit analysis of non-transmission alternatives. The request echoes resolution requests, "to inform electric customers of the economic and environmental benefits they would receive if the same millions applicants want electric customers to spend on a transmission line over 40 years were spent, instead, on energy efficiency, load management and developing local renewable power. "