Holland town board has Q & A with ATC about power line [La Crosse Tribune, Wis.]
(La Crosse Tribune (WI) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Aug. 29--Representative's of the American Transmission Co. and Xcel Energy met with the Town of Holland Board and Plan Commission for a question-and-answer session about the impending Badger Coulee Transmission line Wednesday night.
"This is not a public hearing," board chairman David Carlson said. He informed the crowd of concerned citizens gathered that there will be several opportunities for citizens to voice their opinions at hearings in the future.
Instead, this meeting was about the town board getting some much wanted answers.
"The board still has a lot of questions," explained town clerk Marilyn Pedretti.
The public was encouraged to participate by writing down questions they felt weren't being addressed and pass them to the board for discussion with the power company representatives.
Charles Gonzales of ATC opened up the meeting by explaining where The Badger Coulee Line project is in the planning process. He suggested that the plans are all very tentative, and that the town board will have opportunities to express its concerns to the Public Service Committee.
The Badger Coulee line is a 345kV transmission line planned to connect the CapX2020 line, another 345kV line that runs about 780 miles from South Dakota to the Briggs Road Substation, to the Madison area.
Two possible routes have been submitted to the PSC for consideration. One heads south from Holland through Onalaska before cutting east across much of La Crosse and Monroe counties before turning south toward Madison.
The other route follows the CapX2020 line back north through Holland; ultimately heading east to the Interstate 94 corridor. The line would then follow that to the Madison area.
Coming into Wednesday night's meeting, many Holland residents felt that the northern route was the preferred route by the power companies.
"Why do we want it twice?" asked Wanda Hutchings.
With one line already running through the town, some residents wonder why a second line, affecting a whole new stretch of real estate, is even needed.
"Why can't you run it up the same poles?" questioned David Hutchings.
'We understand the need for investment and infrastructure," Wanda added, "But why wasn't this coordinated?"
The board shared these sentiments.
One member of the town board asked why the substation couldn't be built farther north; especially if the route was heading that direction anyway.
"That was studied and considered," explained Brad Nelson of Xcel Energy's La Crosse office. But the Briggs Road Substation is also a major terminus for local power needs
"It a major hub for the La Crosse-Holmen area," Nelson said.
Other questions expressed by the board and residents address issues of property value, stray voltage, lightning strikes and even the idea of burying the line as it passes through Holland.
While the meeting wasn't likely to change anyone's minds about the project. Some people in attendance felt that the meeting did help.
"Some of the questions have been answered," said Jerome Pedretti, "There was a lot of misinformation out there. So this helped" he added. Pedretti, who owns a farm that would be affected by one of the possible routes through Holland, explained that before today, a lot of people felt that the northern route was the one preferred by the power companies.
But the representatives suggested otherwise.
"We are as objective as we can be," Nelson explained. ATC and Xcel submit both routes to the PSC without saying which they prefer.
"There are pros and cons of both routes," he said.
(c)2013 the La Crosse Tribune (La Crosse, Wis.)
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