Schmidt Frank Jablonski, Attorney
Local Issues Coordinator Porter,
Jablonski & Associates Wisconsin's Environmental Decade (608) 258-8511
(608) 251-7020/442-0121 firstname.lastname@example.org
Wisconsin's Environmental Decade today asked two Public Service Commissioners
and several utility executives to 'immediately and fully disclose'
any communications and records of private discussions concerning the
controversial Arrowhead-Weston transmission project.
The demand came as Decade released information secured from the
PSC under the Open Records Law showing that Public Service Commissioners
Bie and Garvin met privately with representatives of the American
Transmission Company (ATC) and other advocates for the transmission
project while the case was designated as an 'active' court type proceeding
by the PSC.
In "Type I" contested cases, the Commissioners sit as judges.
Sign in records from the PSC show Commissioner Bie met with ATC
executives Jeff Rauh and Julie Voeck on September 12, 2001. The Commission
was then considering the form of its final order on the Project.
Frank Jablonski, attorney for Wisconsin's Environmental Decade,
said "It looks like the Commissioners are breaking the rules set up
to make the process fair. We cannot see how fair minded Commissioners
could meet with one side to a case where they are sitting as judges.
The utilities already have hundreds of times as many resources as
the citizens opposing the line. Separate meetings with utilities makes
a lopsided situation even worse."
Additional meetings occurred after rumors surfaced in 2002 that
the Arrowhead Weston project, still designated as an "active" case
before the PSC, would cost about $231 million more than the PSC had
approved for recovery. On August 12, 2002, Rauh, Dale Landgren, ATC
Vice President and Chief Strategic Officer and three other ATC executives
signed in for a three hour meeting with "Garvin et al."
Rumors of massive cost overruns were confirmed by ATC in late October
of 2002. (Milw. Jrnl.-Sntnl. October 21, 2002).
ATC's Vice President Mark Williamson, who had been hired specifically
to "manage the Arrowhead-Weston transmission line project," (ATC Press
Release, May 29, 2002, "Williamson joins American Transmission Company"),
Rauh, and Daniel Doyle, ATC's Chief Financial Officer, signed in for
a meeting with Commissioner Garvin and former Commissioner Mettner
on September 30th, 2002.
Meetings involving more than one Commissioner at a time may violate
Wisconsin's Open Meetings law, which requires advance notice and open
access when a quorum of the Commission (two Commissioners) meets and
conducts any government business. The PSC has only three Commissioners.
PSC records show Doyle and Rauh also met with Commissioner Bie the
following afternoon, on October 1, 2002. A political appointee from
the Department of Administration, John Marx, joined the meeting with
Bie, according to the sign-in records. The Arrowhead- Weston Transmission
line had been touted as part of former Governor McCallum's energy
Claire Schmidt, local issues coordinator for Environmental Decade
had the following comments:
"Commissioners Bie and Garvin and the utilities should immediately
and fully disclose all private dealings that they have had with each
other over this issue."
"When utilities first proposed this environmental disaster, people
from Northwest Wisconsin openly wondered if they could get a fair
shake from this Commission. Their fears were justified. Any decision
coming from this process is now suspect."