Cardinal Hickory Creek Application Submitted
HOW WE WILL ASSURE ITS DEFEAT
Nine, high-capacity transmission lines have been halted by utility commissioners in other states . With use flat, they looked at benefits that were razor thin and logically chose Non-Transmission Alternatives including energy efficiency and other load management tools to lower and localize future use.
One does not have to be clairvoyant to see that the world of energy is getting smaller, closer, more efficient, more self-sufficient and more responsible with every passing day. The demands of “end users” are officially driving renewables, declining use, most CO2 reduction and stabilizing electric bills. Within years, all utility investment will shift to cash in on end user passions. This can accelerated by electric customers and community leaders logically observing that, “enough is truly, enough.”
Since 2005, Wisconsin electric customers have assumed seven, high interest mortgages on seven expansion transmission lines. Since 2015, our state grid has been regularly and nationally recognized for its reliability .
Each the seven prior lines promised savings and CO2 reductions. Before deciding whether to add another expansion line, Cardinal Hickory Creek (CHC), PSC led study is needed to see what actually happened with those investments before educated expectation for another line is even conceivable. Wisconsin’s exceptional rate and fee hikes since 2005 are highly indicative ; to ignore these obvious cues is the worst business practice imaginable.
As the many individuals, groups and municipalities working to stop CHC come around the final bend head for the straight, we see the expansion lines being stopped all around us and must soberly ask ourselves, what did these movements do that is different? After all, we have grown stronger but we still failed 7 times.
First, a look at what we have in common with the successful efforts. In all 7 approved expansion lines, Wisconsin Commissioners have taken it upon themselves to personally vote against: record numbers of opposing electric customers, scores of municipal government resolutions, well-founded reservations of dozens of lawmakers and against cautions raised by experts on their staff. With only a sentence or two, Commission lawyers have dismissed highly cost and environmentally effective No Wire Alternatives founded on energy efficiency, load management and local power solutions. Why did the lawyers skip writing traditional critique of a more cost effective solution? Courts do not require them to .
All of these crucial, supporting factors will be larger and better-documented wth Cardinal Hickory Creek unless we lose steam. Our deficiency is not the number of citizens/electric customers engaged, the number of resolutions adopted or the incisiveness of the counter engineering opposition forces will mount.
The standout difference with the winning formulas is our commissioners in Wisconsin have yet to face a large number of outspoken, prominent community leaders rationally describing personal and community/business-minded reasons that further utility expansion is clearly not the way to proceed. The other difference is our leaders have yet to see their neighbors, regular citizens and electric customers, standing with substantial concern, in official capacity as intervenors before the PSC. These are the two, apparent, stones that can flip Wisconsin.
The first successful defeat of a superfluous, high-capacity transmission line occurred in West Virginia, Virginia and Delaware in 2009 . The proposal was met by 250, highly informed, public intervenors and more than 40 publicly outspoken municipal governments across three states. In Iowa in 2016, lawmakers adopted legislation to meet higher expectations of landowners and electric customers. In Missouri in 2016, four counties locked arms, denied access to transmission builders and made the utilities re-apply under improved terms. In Oregon in 2017, lawmakers and a wide array of community leaders made it abundantly clear to their commissioners that any questionable need resulting in a large, imposing and cost-ineffective transmission line is wholly unacceptable. As a result, regulators in Oregon fully backtracked and choose No Wire Alternatives .
In simple terms, Wisconsin Commissioners must be abundantly aware by 2019 that any vote for CHC is a clear vote against the wishes of business, industry, education, church and elected leaders. Leaders of this caliber rarely speak up and when they do, it demands everyones’ attention.
The talent engaged in CHC opposition is extraordinary. All we need to do is commit to helping more of our business leaders, mayors, county supervisors, chamber of commerce heads, church leaders and community and trade/industry organizations discover their personal visions and speak-up.
Yes, this does take some reading, thinking about how business and community leaders are most likely to grasp “right-sizing” and how growing utility spending directly competes with local goals and the health of our local economies. Instinctual appreciation of “waste not-want not” and rural/neighborhood traditions of self sufficiency await to be tapped. In the end, speaking up is not developing a clever strategy and facts go only so far. Once leaders are comfortable with their understandings, they excel speaking with heart felt care for the communities they love.
Everyone knows a least one, influential community leader to reach out to. All that is required is setting up an in-person meeting, printing out some favorite materials to share and starting a conversation. Leaders have opinions, questions and welcome information. Even more important than a few studied talking points is listening -- making sure you understand the values behind opinions and outstanding questions. Schedule a follow-up meeting to provide answers. There is much economic, moral and environmental fact at disposal . SOUL’s info email address is available to help find resources and answers. Our prior eNewsletters have useful information as well.
1. List bottom of p. 2, http://soulwisconsin.org/Documents/No-Planning.pdf#page=2
2. Wisconsin was ranked #1 in 2015 based on minimal service interruptions by US World & News Report . See p. 37 with link,
3. US Energy /EIA and other data, p. 40 http://soulwisconsin.org/Resources/FootnoteHarbour.pdf#page=40
4. Wisconsin appeals court rebuffs town of Holland power line challenge, http://bit.ly/PSC-GreatDeference
5. CITIZEN JOURNALISM: High-voltage opposition to a power plan http://bit.ly/250_intervenors
6. Non-Wires Alternatives Embraced by BPA as it Abandons 80-mile Transmission Line Project
7. WI's lack of modern energy planning http://soulwisconsin.org/Documents/No-Planning.pdf Discussion of wind power and
CO2 reduction http://bit.ly/RegardingWindPower-CO2reduction Discussion of Lagging Energy Efficiency in WI:
http://bit.ly/WI_LAGS_EE Additional resources are available.
The Reality Behind CHC's Estimated "Savings"
UNDERSTANDING CHC: ECONOMICS
In coming eNewsletters, SOUL will assist Wisconsin ratepayers and community leaders more comprehensively understand transmission builders’ supporting claims for Cardinal Hickory Creek [CHC] PSCW Docket 05-CE-146 http://bit.ly/chcdocket
First, a look at the potential economic benefits applicants estimate for Cardinal Hickory Creek for Wisconsin electric customers over 40 years, from 2023-2063 . Placing key transmission builder assumptions into logical order:
- IF Wisconsin electricity use should depart from the current trend since 2007 and start steadily increasing for some reason,
- AND to keep up with this increasing demand Midwestern states spend additional billions on new power plants, the majority natural gas and;
- IF Cardinal Hickory Creek and 17 associated expansion lines are built and in operation by 2023 ;
- UNDER THESE ASSUMED CONDITIONS, the large, associated electric bill increases in the range of $50-$90 per month would be cushioned 2 to 24 cents per month for the average residential electric customer .
CLICK GRAPHIC TO ENLARGE
Further, the transmission builders’ application does not show Wisconsin ratepayers what impact CHC would have on their bills if their growth predictions proved to be wrong and electricity use were to remain flat or in decline. This omission is great disservice to ratepayers and our ability to protect our interests.
Each, unnecessary power line and power plant added under flat and declining use greatly accelerates electric bill increases because, as the PSC states, “...without a growing sales base to absorb those costs, it is likely that customers’ rates will go up .”
If these rate increases and billions in utility expansion costs do not present enough concern, the recent PSC assessment also warns that in addition to the Cardinal Hickory Creek application, transmission builders are planning to propose as many as four more, 345 kV lines (in red) within the next seven years .
MORE WI LINES ANNOUNCED
Economic Benefits are summarized in tables 37-41 pdf numbered p. 70-71 of the CHC Planning Analysis
. Economic benefits come in two, dominant forms: “energy savings” by adding capacity to the grid and by delaying improvements to smaller transmission lines. labeled, “reliability/renewal.” To access this key document from the CHC application, visit
change the “viewdoc” file name to something useful like, “CHC Planning Analysis,” navigate to a place you would like to store the file on your computer and click “Save.”
For a list of other transmission lines the transmission builders assume will be built across the Midwest, see Figure 3: RGOS Wind Zones and Candidate MVPs, pdf numbered p.17 of the Panning Analysis,
As of January, 2018 five of the seventeen projects were in service. See chart with links pdf p. 39, http://soulwisconsin.org/Resources/FootnoteHarbour.pdf#page=39
For data sources, see descriptions at the bottom of the overview graphic for this article. Either click on the graphic to enlarge it or access it here: http://bit.ly/CHC_EconomicBenefitsDissected
PSC Wisconsin, Strategic Energy Assessment 2024
‒ Draft, pdf numbering p.50
PSC Wisconsin, Strategic Energy Assessment 2024
‒ Draft, Map: p.39, Table A-1 p.100
For other expansion transmission projects that have been recently considered by regional utilities for WI and other Midwest states, pdf p. 28, http://soulwisconsin.org/Resources/FootnoteHarbour.pdf#page=28
RESOLUTION & LAWMAKER
SUSTAINED EFFORT STARTED IN 2011
In August of 2011, the Vernon County Board of Supervisors was the first government unit to adopt a Resolution designed by knowledgable electrical engineers asking transmission builders and the PSC of WI to tell Wisconsin electric customers the benefits we would receive if the same millions of dollars utility interests want us to spend on an expansion transmission line over 40 years was invested, instead, in energy efficiency, modern load management and developing local power resources. Cost-benefit comparison of this nature is the definitive industry means of evaluated need for a high capacity transmission line, and, increasingly, expansion transmission line proposals across the US are failing to meet the test.
More than 120 local governments and 15 Wisconsin lawmakers followed Vernon County's example increasing public awareness for transmission builders to finally oblige and include the first Non-Transmission Alternative in a utility proposal in Wisconsin in 20 years. For all seven expansion lines previously approved in Wisconsin, transmission builders provided only comparisons of transmission build options despite requirements under the Wisconsin Environmental Protection Act.
The Alternative can be found in SECTION 5.3 staring on pdf page 30 of the Cardinal Hickory Creek (CHC) Planning Analysis.
Departing from requests made by Wisconsin lawmakers and the resolutions, the applicants have under-estimated CHC 40 year costs, emphasized utility-scale over local renewable development and restricted investment in energy efficiency. On the plus side, the transmission builders recognized the value of modern load management for the first time in Wisconsin as well as the role distributed generation including household, business and agricultural solar in shaping Wisconsin's energy future.
Intervenors opposing CHC, including SOUL of Wisconsin, will be hiring nationally-recognized specialists to critique the applicants' NTA as well as propose differing blends of non-transmission resources to realize substantially greater monetary savings and CO2 reductions.
Such accomplishments do not happen without an enormous amount legwork, education and persistence. Consider taking moment to thank one or more of the following individuals for their assistance in making the need for improvement apparent to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin and transmission builders.
DON'T FORGET TO SIGN YOUR EMAIL
State Representative Terese Berceau
State Representative Jill Billings
State Representative Edward Brooks
State Representative Dave Considine
State Representative Steve Doyle
State Senator Jon Erpenbach
State Representative Diane Hesselbein
State Senator Howard Marklein
State Representative Lee Nerison
State Representative Todd Novak
State Representative Sondy Pope
State Senator Jennifer Shilling
State Representative Travis Tranel
State Senator Kathleen Vinehout
Former State Senator Dale Schultz
Former State Representative Fred Clark
Former State Representative Chris Danou
The ability to First, a look at the potential economic benefits applicants estimate for Cardinal Hickory Creek
for Wisconsin electric customers over 40 years, from 2023-2063 
. Placing key transmission builder assumptions into logical order:
Harnessing Our Local
Meeting Our Priorities with Household and Local Solutions
Shortfalls in Transmission Review Process and Busting Utility Myths
Confronting the Harmful Land and Economic Impacts of Transmission Expansion
Trustee, Village of Montfort, WI
StopPATH WV, Shepherdstown, WV
Participation, Politics, and Public Opinion
Driftless Area Land Conservancy, Dodgeville, WI
Protecting the Natural Habitats and Local Economies of the Driftless Area from Unnecessary Transmission Expansion
Powers Engineering, San Diego, CA
Local-Based Energy Futures and the Obstacle of Transmission Expansion
The grid to nowhere
An argument against building giant transmission lines
BY MICHAEL LENEHAN
MARCH 1, 2018