Proposed powerline won’t be derailedEfforts to redirect the route of a new transmission line appear to have failed.
By: By Jeff Holmquist, New Richmond News
Efforts to redirect the route of a new transmission line appear to have failed.
Following objections from landowners in the Town of Star Prairie and Town of Stanton, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission reopened the docket for the Somerset-to-Stanton 69 kV powerline.
But while residents had hoped that the PSC would re-evaluate the entire route of the line, it only will take comments on the placement of poles along the already designated route.
“It’s very disappointing,” said Janet D’Ambrosio, a local landowner and one of the organizers in the battle against Xcel’s line.
She said the landowners tried to get the PSC and Xcel to consider routing the transmission line along Highway 64 instead of the current route, which impacts many more homeowners, but the idea fell on deaf ears.
“The current route is not the best choice,” D’Ambrosio said. “The bottom line is it’s going to be an eyesore in our community. It will impact everybody’s property values.”
The transmission line, which will travel 8 miles primarily along 210th Avenue and County Road C, will be supported by large steel poles that will tower 75 to 110 feet above the ground.
The PSC did approve two slight changes in the route for the transmission line. Because the Town of Stanton Board won’t allow Xcel Energy to place poles on public property near the old town hall and the community park on the Apple River, the transmission line will instead head to the north of JJ’s Outpost Bar & Grill and cross the Apple River in that location. The line will then meet back up on the original route along County Road C.
A small section along 210th Avenue will also be rerouted to lessen the impact on a wetland area.
“The PSC kind of was throwing us a bone,” D’Ambrosio said of the small routing changes.
The PSC reopened the docket July 8 and accepted written comments from affected landowners through Aug. 15. All other comments are due by Sept. 21.
A local hearing on the transmission line is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 21.
D’Ambrosio said the hearing should be well attended, even though property owners may not be able to accomplish much.
“There will be a large attendance … for people to vent,” she said.
The unintended outcome of the landowner’s battle with Xcel is that now people are trying to get poles moved off their property and on to a neighbor’s land, D’Ambrosio said.
“It’s begun to cause divisions in the community,” she said. “It’s done more of a disservice to the community than anything else. It never was about pushing it to someone else’s property.”
D’Ambrosio said most are resigned that the transmission line is coming and little can be done to change the course of action.
“We’ve done everything we could,” she said. “If we would have acted sooner, we may have been able to do something. But now, it is what it is.”
Xcel officials claim the transmission line is needed to improve the reliability of electricity service in western Wisconsin. And with anticipated growth in New Richmond area, they claim, the need for expanded electrical capacity is important.
For more information on the transmission line plans and the related documents, visit http://psc.wi.gov and enter 4220-CE-172 to find the case file.