This Tuesday, one of a series of listening sessions will be held in Platteville concerning the proposed Cardinal-Hickory Creek 350mW transmission line project being planned for. Part of a plan that included the debated and discussed Badger-Coulee line, this line would run from the Madison area through southwest Wisconsin, crossing the Mississippi River into Iowa, installing a substation in Montfort along the way.The meeting will take place at Pioneer Lanes May 17, going on from 4 to 7 p.m.
The reasons behind the project, according to ITC spokesperson Tom Peterson, are to improve the reliability of the region’s electrical grid, build up the grid to reduce the costs of transferring power, and expand the connection between Iowa, where there are a large number of wind-generating stations, and Wisconsin.
“Wind energy is a big driver for this,” noted Peterson.
When the original plans for this new transmission line were unveiled two years ago, lines were not so defined, as much of Grant County was shown on maps to be considered for the path of this new line. Over the past two years, ITC and ATC, the builders of this transmission line and operators of transmission lines in Iowa and Wisconsin, have been trying to determine what was the best path for this line, narrowing down dozens of potential paths before coming ups with two possibilities.
The first would follow an existing transmission line that runs from Cassville, past just south of Lancaster, to Montfort, while the other would follow a line from Cassville to Platteville, then follow along STH 80 to Montfort.
One of the other areas where plans have come into greater focus is in the area of where the transmission line will cross the Mississippi River, and that will likely be in the Village of Cassville at the site of one of the two recently-closed power plants.
“We are working with a lot of agencies still to define where the crossing will be,” Peterson said, noting that because of the Upper Mississippi River Refuge, things will not happen until US Fish and Wildlife signs off.
Where the line would cross the river had been much of the discussion for the past two years, as the companies involved look at locations from Gutenberg to Dubuque. “Our priority was to figure out where we were going to cross the river,” Peterson continued, noting how important it was to set that point in order to come up with the rest of the path.
Because of the extensive approval process dealing with the Upper Mississippi River Refuge, the plans are to build the transmission line going over the river at double the capacity so that if the line would ever expand, this would mean not having to have to disturb the refuge again.
Currently there is a crossing near the Stoneman plant, but ITC and ATC are looking to change to having the line cross at the Nelson Dewey site. One of the reasons for the change is that currently the transmission line crosses over a school, a church, a number of homes, and the current regulation in Wisconsin would not allow a 350mW line to follow the same path.
With the redevelopment of the former power plant site still in the works by Alliant Energy, how would adding transmission lines affect the Nelson Dewey site?
“Our crossing the river would not impact with the site,” Angela Jordan from ITC said, noting that there are already some limitations for the site.
In trying to determine just where the transmission line should go, following an existing transmission line route is given a priority, which is why the two plans follow much of existing lines to get to the substation proposed for Montfort.
The State of Wisconsin requires that when it comes to utilities, two proposals are made to be reviewed by the Public Service Commission (PSC).
Representatives of ITC said neither of the paths shown are ranked higher than the other, but noted that there are items that the state will likely look at in its review. In addition to looking at whether or not there is an existing transmission line path, the PSC will look to avoid residential areas.
Peterson stated that the companies involved has attempted to contact all of the potentially affected landowners involved during the past two years especially with the plans more defined now. He said that if one was missed, talking to them at the listening session is very important.
He continued, noting that talking to the landowner of where the line may go is important because because they know their property better than anyone. “We want to be aware of every land feature, either manmade or natural,” Peterson continued. “The benefit to talking to landowners is they give insight. Insight into how the land is being used, topography is like, what is the makeup of the ground is.”
He also said that the path needs to be configured to what the landowner wants. If there are landowners who have issues with the path going through their property, they can look at alternatives. If the landowner wants to have the line in one section verses another, they can see what would work.
Peterson noted that this is just another one in a series of meetings and discussions that will take place as the project gets reviewed not just by the state of Wisconsin, but also the state of Iowa, and several agencies on the Federal level.
“Its a long term project that will be going on for many years yet,” Peterson noted, stating that the plans are to apply formally to Wisconsin, with the defined plans, probably either
in 2018 or 2019. Iowa and the Feds will also need to approve, so the idea if the line would come online in 2023.