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Finally, Transmission Developers to Meet with Grant County, except*

February 20th  -  Lancaster, WI

By David Swanson

            *[American Transmission Company and ITC Holdings cancelled a previous agreement to meet with County Supervisors for a limited time period on January 23 due to schedule conflicts. The delay makes it harder for Grant County to obtain and comment upon information from the applicants in order to affect the scope and goals of the application during the designated public information phase of Wisconsin's high voltage transmission review process.]

            Since 2005, Wisconsin electric customers have spent an average of about $430 million a year on transmission lines previously approved [1]. For each of the seven, PSC-approved expansion transmission lines added in Wisconsin since 2005, transmission builders claimed the lines would save electric customers money.

            Official records show that rates and fee increases clearly accelerated as charges for the debt on the lines began to pour in [2].

            So why are utilities still building them? Because transmission line investors are guaranteed 10.2% [3] return once a line is approved by the state government whether it is used or not. Utilities are making lots of money by putting steel in the ground, but selling power involves slim profits. According to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC), our continued spending on new transmission and power plants are the key reasons our average electric costs average are the highest or second highest in the Midwest [4]. Electric usage has been dropping since 2007 – not from a slower economy or the growth in solar, but from more efficient appliances, improved building practices and states shifting taxpayer spending from new power plants and transmission lines into “accelerated” energy efficiency benefits that are steadily reducing demand[5].

            Wisconsin lawmakers are requesting the PSC to update application the requirements [6] to insure transmission builders conduct comprehensive energy planning and show electric customers that the millions of dollars builders want us to spend on expansion transmission projects would not be better spent on “end user” improvements in our homes and farms to reduce energy use and produce more power locally.

            Resolutions adopted by more than 130 municipalities across Wisconsin including six municipalities [7] in Grant County have formally requested the transmission builders and the PSC to conduct the cost-benefit analysis. In December, the Town of Wingville and the Village of Montfort urged the Grant County board to adopt a county specific resolution [8] asking the applicants for cost-benefit now so feedback can affect the scope and goals of the application and better represent electric customer and land owner priorities.

            American Transmission Company will be among the applicants making a presentation and answering questions about their Cardinal Hickory Creek (CHC) 345 kV transmission line proposal at the Grant County Board Meeting at 10 AM on February 20 in Lancaster, WI. I encourage you to attend the meeting, observe the interaction and by your presence urge the supervisors to quickly adopt the resolution for greater accountability for all of us.

        For more information about local government and resident meetings and responses to the Cardinal Hickory Creek expansion transmission proposal in Grant County,, email Laurie Graney.

[1] $428 million per year since MTEP 05, see

[2] WI rates increased at the pace of 1.7% per year from 1990 to 2002 and 5.1% per year from 2001 to 2016 These increases do not include billions that will be collected due to record increases in charges for fixed user fees starting in 2012

[3] The amount of 12% was challenged by a coalition of industrial energy users in 2013, see: A judge agreed with the request and recommended the 10.2% in 2016, see: Transmission builders are appealing this decision seeking the guaranteed rate be increased to 13% (FERC docket case EL15-45).

[4]  p.4, 31 PSC REF#220557

[5]  Various sources, starting on page 1:

[6]  Fifteen letters t\o date pertaining to transmission expansion proposals,

[7]  See map and lists with links to most recent filings,

[8] Resolution packet presented to Board Supervisors also includes estimated cost impacts on a Grant County dairy operation if the transmission line is built and two scenarios where energy efficiency and solar power alternatives costing no more are pursued.



Community Groups and National Experts Team-Up to Discuss Local Industrial Animal Operation Threats & What Can Be Done About Them

Saturday, Jan. 20
1:00 - 5:30 PM
Americinn Hotel 1700 Elm Street

           A conference with leading national authorities and local community organizers in the current effort to spare the Driftless region from the harmful, long-term effects of concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) contamination of Wisconsin’s environment, natural resources and public health. The event is sponsored by the Crawford Stewardship Project, Wisconsin’s state-wide coalition Sustain Rural Wisconsin Network (SRWN) and other groups. 

           Featured Speakers:

  • Dr. John Ikerd -- Professor Emeritus, Agricultural & Applied Economics, University of Missouri Columbia
  • College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources
  • Dr. Kelvin Rodolfo - Professor Emeritus, Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Scott Dye - Regional Consultant, Socially Responsible Agriculture Project
  • Mike Mueller - Pioneer Gardens Farm, Driftless Area Back to the Land Cooperative
  • Kris Walker Wubben - Concerned neighbor to newly permitted Timberwolf RE feeder pig CAFO
  • Gayle O’Meara Nielsen - Spokesperson for Citizens Concerned for Smart Growth

           Admission is free with donations accepted. For more information contact: Forest Jahnke, Crawford Stewardship Project , 608-632-2183 | or Mary Dougherty, Sustain Rural Wisconsin Network 651-253-9352 |



Dane County to Consider Opposition to Expansion Transmission Line 

            SOUL of Wisconsin encourages the Supervisors representing Dane County to support an upcoming resolution concerning the Cardinal Hickory Creek (CHC) expansion transmission line proposal for three reasons:

            The applicants for the transmission line have not acknowledged or responded to the County’s prior Resolution [1] adopted July 2017 asking for highly traditional cost-benefit analysis during the current, public information phase when informed comments from the county can affect both the scope, goals and accountabilities established by the application to be submitted. The new resolution addresses concerns about this inaction.

            The requested cost-benefit analysis is the only means by which the County can insure that priorities of electric customers, land owners, local economies and natural environments are considered in this case. Need cannot be determined, as the applicants have posed [2], only by comparing potential benefits between transmission line build options. In order to demonstrate that Cardinal Hickory Creek could be in the best interests of the public, the applicants must begin the review process by conducting comprehensive analysis showing that the same millions they want electric customers to spend on transmission expansion over the next 40 years would not be better spent on energy efficiency, load management and local power. Across the United States, high voltage expansion transmission lines are being withdrawn or denied [3] after quantitative comparisons are prepared for elected officials and consumers to evaluate. This is precisely what the County’s first resolution requests.

            Future energy spending in the state should go to investments that guarantee significant CO2 emission reductions over time. There are no such guarantees in the Cardinal Hickory Creek proposal. In fact, CO2 projections formally filed by MISO in Badger-Coulee proposal  [4] show that the planning conducted by regional utilities [5], assumes CO2 emissions will continue to increase even in the case that wind resources in the Midwest were to be increased five fold and significant carbon taxes were in place.

            Dane County supervisors will recall that requests made in 2006-07 for third-party, cost-benefit analysis [6] during the Beltline (Rockdale-West Middleton) 345 kV line were not able to significantly influence the outcome. By adopting the July 2017 Resolution that asks the applicants to conduct and share the cost-benefit analysis during the current, Public Information stage, the County addressed the procedural short-comings of prior resolutions [7].

            County receipt of the cost-benefit analysis conducted by the applicants before the application is submitted to the PSC allows governmental units and electric customers not only to affect the scope and goals of the application with their comments but also permits PSC staff to test it with necessary objectivity and public intervenors to represent ratepayer perspectives in yet a third, cost-benefit analysis. The resolution also requests inclusion of the PSC’s cost-benefit evaluation and recommendation in the agency’s official, position statements (Draft and Final Environmental Statements) where citable in requests for reconsideration and in appeal [8]

            Thus, applicant and PSC failures to conduct timely analysis in the interests of electric customers, land owners and governmental bodies can now be met with much greater force. A follow-up resolution citing the applicants’ failures to provide the analysis as requested and stating opposition to the project as brought forth is well-founded and appropriate. Such measures are essential towards the central goal of restoring fundamental protections for electric customers and setting environmental goals. They were required under the Advance Planning review process up to 1998 and their omission has lead to directionless state energy planning  [9].

            In regard to RENEW Wisconsin’s criticisms of the opposition resolution, we note that it is highly important that all parties, including RENEW Wisconsin, provide citations from utility accountable documents when promoting potential benefits from any utility proposal including Cardinal Hickory Creek. The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) is constrained to claims made by the applicants or intervening parties; opinion and speculation serve only to confuse discussion and decision-making.

            On a linked, annotated copy of RENEW’s letter [10], please find seventeen, marked claims for which we cannot find support for in the document the applicants have submitted to date [11].

            Regarding the impacts of remote wind generation on electric bills, we can find no statements by the applicants that wind energy lowers bills or that Cardinal Hickory Creek would increase the consumption of remote renewable energy in Wisconsin. Due to flat electricity demand, decreasing use of the electricity market as a whole [12], the fuel costs for all forms of generation are very low and reflect a small part of our electric bill [13] compared to costs for capital expenditures [14] like Cardinal Hickory Creek. In recent Strategic Energy Assessments, the PSC acknowledges that our continuing construction cycle [15] on transmission and power plants is a key driver behind Wisconsin’s region leading rate and fee hikes while C02 emissions remain essentially unchanged [16].

            Going forward, it is crucial that any new, large capital spending such as Cardinal Hickory Creek must be opposed unless such proposals pass stringent cost-benefit analysis that includes guaranteed CO2 reduction over time. Adding urgency, we note that utility interests have identified as many as four more expansion lines in western and northern Wisconsin for possible proposal [17].

            Current energy planning practices of transmission builders only estimate potential benefits under policy and economic conditions of their design. Electric customers deserve what Dane County and more than 120 Wisconsin municipalities have requested starting in 2011: to equally weigh the contrasting guaranteed savings and emission reductions that would come from improving energy efficiency through such programs as Focus on Energy, modern load management and development of local renewables. These expenditures are flexible over time and do not add to high-interest capital utility debt that ratepayers are forced to pay over decades whether the transmission facility is used or not.

            Opposing the Cardinal Hickory Creek proposal until the requested cost-benefit analysis is provided during the public information phase is respectful of ratepayers, of landowners and local economies facing significant devaluations [18], and all goals to reduce CO2 levels.

[1] PSC document reference PSC REF#:328524,

[2] Applicant’s narrative discussion, Section 3.4 – 3.4.2, p. 44-49 without budget to apply to alternative spending or quantitative analysis 

[3]   See The PATH, SWEPCO and MSTI expansion line proposals in Virginia, Arkansas and Montana were also withdrawn when tested with more cost-effective alternatives.

[4]   See p.19,; CO2 baseline and 2020-2026 data shows that MISO planning assumes growth in 5 of 6 futures. The only future that predicts CO2 reduction over this time frame is premised on expanded spending towards energy efficiency, load management and development of in-state renewables. The data shows that these reductions would still be realized if Badger-Coulee were not built.

[5]   2008-2011 planning founded on assumed growth in energy use and demand represented on p, 58-100,

[6]  The City of Middleton’s referendum with a significant majority calling for impartial analysis of need and assessment of no-wire alternatives accurately identified inadequacies in the application and PSC review process after the elimination of cost-benefit analysis with Advance Planning in 1998, For the Beltline, CapX2020 and Badger-Coulee transmission proposals, much lower energy and demand projections submitted by the public intervenors proved to be far more accurate than those of the applicants'. Further, use of interstate transmission and the electricity market did not accelerate as applicants projected.

[7]  For Belltline (Rockdale-West Middleton), applicants were allowed to omit quantitative analysis of non-transmission alternatives in their initial application. Subsequently, the PSC did not provide extensive, quantitative analysis. The analysis was finally assumed entirely by public intervenors  with no prior quantitative data or budgetary baseline established.

[8] A state court recently agreed to rehear the Town of Holland’s appeal of the PSC’s Badger-Coulee decision including basis of the agency’s failure to conduct comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of non transmission alternatives.

[9] Spending towards utility infrastructure at the expense of end user investment began when Wisconsin ceased Integrated Resource Planning in 1998 under the name of Advance Planning. Spending increases can be seen on 1990-2015 timeline p.25

[10]  The annotated letter may be accessed at :

[11]     See  Applicants have submitted this assessment of need to the USDA/Rural Utility Service as part of Dairyland Power Cooperative’s application for a $49 million dollar, low interest federally-assisted loan for which an EIS is required. Despite EIS requirements to conduct analysis of non-transmission alternatives (NTAs), the document contains no quantitative analysis of NTA’s.

[12] Trade data from electricity market “hub.”

[13]  The fuel cost of natural gas generation in the MISO electricity market in 2016 was less than 3 cents per kIlowatt-hour ($26.56 / MWH) See p. vi. (pdf p. 8) 2016 State of the Market Report

[14]  “...CapEx is likely to have the greatest impact on future retail electricity prices.” p. 26 with chart, Putting the Potential Rate Impacts of Distributed Solar into Context, Galen Barbose, January 2017, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory,

[15]  See p. 12, Excerpts from PSC REF# 220557 2020 Strategic Energy Assessment

[16]  See EIA [direct data download].  CO2 emissions associated with electricity generation in Wisconsin from 2006-2015 have not declined significantly as transmission builders insinuated in their applications. Emissions have declined roughly at the rate that electricity use has declined but also with retrograde such as a higher amount in 2015 compared to 2009.

[17]  See starting on p. 28 with links to MISO resources.

[18]  See  Devaluations in the range of 5-15% within view of an high profile transmission facility are typical. Valuation Guidelines for Properties with Electric Transmission Lines, Kurt C. Kielisch, 

to support ratepayer energy investment priorities is only $5!  Membership numbers are especially important when SOUL intervenes in utility cases and seeks funding for engineers and other experts.  Consider two or more memberships for your family.
Donations above the $5 fee are tax
deductible. Join online here or mail
a check to SOUL of Wisconsin,
PO Box 146, La Farge, WI 54639 




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Thursday, Jan. 18
6:30 PM


Discussion and planning to expand awarenesses about the Cardinal Hickory Creek expansion transmission line proposal, All welcome. 

Main Street Bar, 102 West Main St. Montfort, WI   Directions

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Saturday, Jan. 20
1:00 - 5:30 PM

Industrial Ag in the Driftless: How Do We Protect Our Communities?

Community groups joining national experts in discussion about the threats of large, industrial animal operations and steps that can be taken. AmericInn Hotel and Suites, 1700 Elm Street Boscobel, WI.  See column story for web access and more details. Free and open to the public. DIrections 

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Saturday, Jan. 20
1:00 PM

MLK Celebration


Event centerpiece will be Dr. King’s 40-minute speech about nonviolence and racial justice recorded in 1958 followed by a discussion about King’s hopeful and peaceful comments that apply directly to today’s political climate. River Valley Elementary School Library, 830 W. Daley Street,  Spring Green, WI

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Tuesday, Jan. 23
1:00 PM


Hwy 14  -  ARENA, WI

A meeting of representatives from WISCONSIN TOWN governments and allied organizations responding to the Cardinal Hickory Creek  Transmission Line proposal . To include planning for upcoming forum with national and regional experts experienced with confronting transmission expansion projects. For more information, contact Karen Carlock  DIrections 

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Tuesday, Jan. 23
6:30 PM


GrandStay Hotel

A meeting of citizens and representatives of local governments responding to the Cardinal Hickory Creek  Transmission Line proposal. To include planning of activities.  Contact WDPC for more information.   Directions

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Tuesday, Jan. 23
4:30 PM

WI Energy Institute



Presentation of a study  and discussion with panelists Gary Radloff, Joel Shoemaker, Mary Schlaefer and Tom Still concerning the manufacturing of load management technology and the potential to catalyze Wisconsin's energy economy and bolster job growth. Registration is free. 
1552 University Avenue, Madison, WI  Directions

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Thursday, Mar. 1

6:30 PM
 Join us, in-person or via conference phone call, at Organic Valley Headquarters, One Organic Way. La Farge, WI  Includes reports from individual and organizational initiatives and planning of future events.

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Thursday, Feb. 8
8:00 AM - 11:00 AM
 Breakfast gathering with speaker Katrina McMurrian continuing the organization's exploration of  "Grid Moderni-zation," or the shifting of electric customer dollars to realize more savings for customers while reducing and avoiding costs of updating older distribution and trans-mission lines and associated substations.. 

Following the same concept as Non- Transmission Alternatives, the end user improvements involve increased deployment of energy efficiency, load management and develop-ment of local renewable energy to reduce demand as well as more costly tech-nologies such as battery storage. 

For example, Alliant Energy 2013-2013 planning has identified many, costly substations across Southwest Wisconsin that are associated with municipalities and targeted for upgrades.  Electric customers in or near these municipalities who are looking for ways to realize lower cost community solar and load management can contact Megan Dwyer to discuss possible use of these end user improvements to save costs for all electric customers when making these improvements.  

Speaker McMurrian's back-ground indicates stronger ties with state regulators than with electric customers per se, but the opportunity to listen in and take part in discussion about this important topic is well worth attending.  The event features additional panelists not yet identified.   Registration is $35 for citizens and $20 for elected officials and staff.  The event will be held at The Madison Concourse Hotel and Governor's Club, 1 West Dayton Street, Madison, WI Directions



Tuesday, Feb. 20
10:00 AM

 Representatives of American Transmission Company and ITC Holdings, proposers of the Cardinal Hickory Creek 345 kV High Capacity, Expansion Transmission Line that would stretch 125 miles between Middleton, WI and Dubuque, IA through the heart of Grant County will be making a short presentation to the Board of Supervisors meeting.

The presentation is scheduled for 15 minutes including a few questions from County Supervisors. Grant County residents are encouraged to contact their supervisor and urge she/he to support the County's adoption of the Resolution put forward by the Village of Montfort and the Town of Wingville.  See lead story in main column,

The main board room on the 2nd floor of the County Administration Building at 111 S Jefferson Street,    Lancaster, WI  

Legislative Progress

 Include your signature among 700 constituents who have co-signed letters to their state legislators asking them to urge the Public Service Commission of WI to update its transmission application requirement  to require transmission builders and PC staff to conduct comprehensive cost & environmental benefit analysis of non-transmission alternatives when reviewing high voltage transmission proposals.

Contact SOUL if you would like to join a small group of fellow constituents and visit your state  lawmakers to share your energy priorities.

ASK WI Legislators
To Restore Cost & Environmental Accountability
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How long has it been since you sized up your household electricity use?  Doing so can produce energy savings and emission reductions equal to adding several solar panels and cost you nothing.

Email SOUL for a free,  personalized, online tracking sheet to record your monthly progress. Take advantage of the  CONTEST  tor house-holds starting to track use before the end of this month. 
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