Badger-Coulee Appeal Launched
Oral Arguments scheduled for October
The Town of Holland in La Crosse County has filed arguments calling for the state district court to make the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) vacate its approval of the high-capacity, Badger-Coulee transmission project between La Crosse and Madison Wisconsin. The project was jointly proposed by transmission builder/operators American Transmission Company and Xcel Energy and approved in June, 2015.
More than 1,000 ratepayers filed formal comments in the trans-mission proceeding not only opposing the high capacity trans-mission line but requesting that future needs be met with non-transmission alternatives, especially conservation, energy efficiency and development of local solar resources.
The law suit follows the PSC’s refusal to rehear the transmission case as requested by the Citizens Energy Task Force and S.O.U.L. of Wisconsin (Save Our Unique Lands). The groups supplied new evidence that Badger-Coulee is poised to add considerable costs to Wisconsin electric bills rather than small, net reductions as utilities conjectured.
Marilyn Pedretti, clerk of the Town of Holland reflects, “The unacceptable outcomes of this project become more apparent every day. The mere prospect of Badger-Coulee has arrested millions of dollars of development in our town but this is small penance compared to the billions of electric customer dollars the PSC is betting on utility-biased guess work.” The town of 3,756 people has been at the forefront of local energy development with a solar-powered town hall and bulk solar purchasing options for town residents. “Nationally recognized electrical engineering firms refuted all need for the transmission addition and showed that any supply or reliability issue that could arise in the future is met most cost effectively with energy efficiency, load management and local solar power."
By considering the transmission builders’ joint application complete in April of 2014, the commission overlooked that the applicants had not complied with PSC staff requests to determine if the investment would be sound under declining energy use. “This law suit is hardly surprising,” accounts Rob Danielson, spokesperson for SOUL of Wisconsin, “The commissioners not only ignored the dropping energy use factor but allowed the transmission builders to avoid providing “ratepayer friendly” comparisons of non-transmission alternatives as petitioned by more 100 municipal governments, and twelve state legislators. The Town’s resolve in defending Wisconsin electric customers and demanding fair energy regulation should be echoed by each and every person in Wisconsin. It is senseless to continue wasting money on unneeded, utility expenditures that pile up debt, create the highest rates and fixed fees in the Midwest and allow CO2 emissions to continue rising irresponsibly.”
The appeal asks the judge to vacate the Badger-Coulee project without rehearing and includes these three arguments:
- That the PSC acknowledged that Badger-Coulee was not needed to provide an “adequate supply of electricity” as required by state law for all transmission projects;
- That in failing to require applicant accountability for flat and dropping energy use, the Commission is placing electric customers at great risk to significant, unproductive, additional costs; and,
- That the required Environmental Impact Statement failed to meet state laws to "study, develop and describe" non-transmission alternatives to enable electric customers and elected officials to sharply evaluate benefits they would receive from other available means of energy investment.
Even as Badger-Coulee is challenged in court, American Transmission Company continues to press electric customers for further investment in high-interest earning large transmission lines. Under current regulatory policies, the company is guaranteed at least 10% return on transmission projects.
Lessons learned from Badger-Coulee are spreading. At least five groups have quickly formed to resist the proposed ‘Cardinal Hickory Creek” line sought between Madison and the Dubuque, Iowa area. The 345 kV transmission line would be the eighth expansion project approved by the WI PSC in the last ten years. “We are aggressively challenging need for this proposal having observed in Badger-Coulee that transmission expansion does not guarantee lower costs or carbon emission reductions over time,” says Bruce Noble of Driftless Defenders in Iowa County. The economic and environmental stakes with transmission expansion are too profound for the PSC to continue experimenting with. Wisconsin electric customers deserve the guaranteed savings and emission reductions from less costly spending in energy efficiency and developing local, renewable power like community solar.”
The PSC's response to the Holland’s brief is expected in mid-August. Oral arguments, which the public may observe, are scheduled before State Circuit Court Branch #3 in La Crosse on October 10 at 1:45 pm.
Speaking: Howard Learner,
Environmental Law & Policy Center
Mr. Lerner will share his ideas about stopping the proposed Cardinal Hickory Creek transmission line before the transmission builders submit their application to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. The builders,, American Transmission Company and ITC Holdings announced this May that they are delaying their proposal, inexplicably, for at least two years. The Driftless Defenders meeting will be held at American Legion Post 97, North 324 N. Douglas St., Dodgeville, WI Map/Directions .
Defenders Greg Firkus, Lea Stroncek, Pat Murphy, Bruce Noble, Amy Noble and Betsy D’Angelo are picture above preparing to march in the 4th of July Parade in Mineral Point, WI. The group will also be participating in the July 9th Farmer's Appreciation Day Parade in Dodgeville.WI and will have an information booth at the Iowa County Fair Sept. 1-5. For more information about Driftless Defenders, their activities and to join the group's email listserv, contact DriftlessDefenders@gmail.com .
Grant County Public Meeting
Tuesday, July 12, Platteville, WI 7 pm
EFFECTIVE GOVERNMENT & CITIZEN RESPONSE TO
CARDINAL HICKORY CREEK
Rob Danielson of the Energy Planning and Information Committee (EPIC) of the Town of Stark in Vernon County and S.O.U.L. of Wisconsin (Save Our Unique Lands) will address ways that towns, villages and counties in the Cardinal Hickory Creek study area can use unique powers to encourage utilities to withdraw the unneeded Cardinal Hickory Creek transmission proposal. Central is the use of the "PSC Information Request Resolution" that has been adopted by more than 112 local governments including 7 Wisconsin counties and endorsement of 12 state legislators. Danielson's 45 minute presentation will be followed with questions, discussion and distribution of resolution materials for local governments, community groups and petitions for individuals. The talk will describe listing local economic, cultural and environmental sensitivities to increase the effectiveness of resolutions and ways to enlist crucial support from state legislators. The meeting starts at 7pm and will be held at Whig United Methodist Church, 7158 Whig Road, Platteville, WI Map/Directions . Contact Laurie Graney for more information at 608-348-3638 or email@example.com
SOUL OF WISCONSIN MEETING
Thursday, July 21 La Farge, WI 6:30 pm
Join us to participate in our efforts including opposition to the Cardinal Hickory Creek and Mark Twain transmission expansion proposals, reforming WI's transmission corridor vegetation management practices, unique community solar initiatives, our no and low cost energy efficiency and conservation projects and collaboration with pioneering renewable energy developer, the Russell Motor-Generator. The meeting will be held at Organic Valley Headquarters, 1 Organic Way, La Farge, WI, Map-Directions. Attendance via phone conference is also available, contact SOUL to receive an invitation. S.O.U.L. of Wisconsin (Save Our Unique Lands) is a non-profit, grassroots organization whose mission is to promote efficient and responsible management of electrical power for the public good, while protecting the natural, social and economic environments and citizens of Wisconsin. SOUL of Wisconsin accepts no direct or indirect funding from utilities and operates on volunteer labor. Our office is carbon neutral by virtue of an 8kW solar array.
CITIZENS' CLIMATE LOBBY
Iowa Co. Chapter
SUSTAIN IOWA COUNTY
Saturday ,July 9 , Dodgeville, WI 11 am
The joint meeting of Sustain Iowa County.and Citizens' Climate Lobby will be held at the Country Kitchen restaurant starting at 11 am. The restaurant is located at 1202 N Johns St, Dodgeville, WI Map-Directions For more information about the activities of these organizations, contact Chuck Tennessen via email
Electric Customer of the Month
Woman Files FERC Complaint Over Abuses of Transmission Developer Spending and Secures $4.2 Million for Arkansas Electric Customers
Martha Peine, a non-practicing lawyer from Eureka Springs, Arkansas successfully argued to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that transmission builder SWEPCO had been charging electric customers improperly in recovering transmission expenses for such costs as lobbying, advertising, charitable contributions and expenditures on entertainment of elected officials. A FERC staff review found even more improper charges in the rate structure of SWEPCO's parent AEP than the some $2 million Peine had contested. The agreement will prohibit many of these charges in the future. The refunds go to customers in a nine-state region including Arkansas in the form of a one-time credit on electric bills. Full story. Congratulations, Martha! She is a contributor to SOUL of Wisconsin's [Planner] email list.
350 Madison Monthly Meeting
Monday, July 11, 2016, 7- 8:45pm
Friends Meetinghouse, 1704 Roberts Court, Madison, WI
Meeting will include the screening and spirited discussion of "The Wisdom to Survive," an inspiring film about climate change, capitalism, and community. Praised as "exquisitely filmed" and "profoundly moving," this short documentary (less than an hour long) is a call for hope, action, and transformation. "Better than any other film I know, it makes clear that our profit-oriented growth economy has caused the climate catastrophe and cannot itself rescue us from disaster. We need new thinking and a new way of life." – Tom F. Driver Reviews and watch trailer here.
ACTION SUNDAY, JULY 10: Join Ronni Monroe and dedicatie a few hours to help get the word out about a July 14 community forum in Lake Mills, WI for folks living along the Enbridge pipeline. Sign up to drive or help tape flyers to mailbox posts.
Editorial of the Month
Dodgeville Chronicle, By Don Campbell
Mr. Campbell's editorial lists 5 reasons why its time to reject unnecessary spending on debt and waste inducing expansion transmission lines ending with a call to action being heard in many communities as energy use flattens, efficiency spending stabilizes local economies and aging transmission facilities have their lifespans expanded by community solar and modern load management tools.