re: proposed transmission lines Background on proposed MN-WI transmission lines
Transmission line - Updates: 2002 . 2001: 01-04. , 05-09 .
• 2000: 01-04, 05, 06-07, 08-10., 11, 12..  1999 .
  WI Wisconsin's Rural Rebellion
Model Resolution on proposed Transmission Lines
re: hydroelectric power Background on hydroelectric dams destroying Manitoba Cree rivers
Hydroelectric Dams - Updates: 2001, 2000: 01-03., 04-07, 1999

 

power lines
Page Contents:
Proposed MN-WI transmission lines -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

May
2000 updates





ELECTRIC POWER ALERT - May 3, 2000 p14
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Minnesota environment board seeks limited hearing


MIDWEST UTILITIES CLAIM VICTORY IN REVIEW OF PROPOSED POWER LINE

A decision by Minnesota environmental regulators to limit the scope of a hearing on a possible environmental review for a proposed over-200-mile-long transmission line is being hailed by Wisconsin Public Service Corporation (WPS) and Minnesota Power as a major victory. Opponents of the line, which will be built jointly by the companies and cross over two state boundaries, had hoped for a region-wide review of the project's environmental impacts. But regulators decided to limit consideration of an environmental impact study to effects within the state.

In a petition for exempting the line from a full environmental review, the companies argued that full environmental study of the power line is unnecessary because the state of Wisconsin has already committed to conducting a full impact analysis. The Minnesota hearing agreed to by the state's Environmental Quality Board (EQB) will determine whether a full environmental study of the impacts of the line is necessary. The EQB in an April 20 resolution allows environmentalists and others to raise concerns about the transmission line at the upcoming exemption hearing that relate only to conditions within Minnesota.

As proposed, the 345 KV line would run from Duluth, MN, to the southern Wisconsin city of Wausau, and is an attempt to address Wisconsin's isolation from out-of-state generation and the resulting need for more electricity to solve reliability problems. The utilities asked the Minnesota EQB to exempt the line from an environmental investigation because it is already undergoing a full environmental impact analysis in Wisconsin, and the utilities had hoped to avoid a duplicate process for the 12 miles of line that would be laid in Minnesota.

Wisconsin is expected to complete its draft environmental impact statement by May 15. A final vote by the EQB on whether to hear the petition had been repeatedly postponed because some on the board had felt a broader examination of the line's impacts was necessary, according to an EQB source.

"There was some difference of opinion on the board and it was careful reasoned decision. It's a step that will result in cohesive decisions in the future," says the source. This source expects the hearing process will begin within six weeks. The EQB source contends, "In the end, the board applied a more conservative scope to keep the hearing limited to Minnesota. The decision was in line with what the staff recommended. The board was not convinced that they had the authority to broaden the scope [and] they decided that it was too cumbersome to include in one record all these outside issues."

One opponent of the line, in a letter circulated to various stakeholders says, "The powerline opponents from Wisconsin and Minnesota . . . left the Board meeting in silent defeat when the vote was passed. No effects or impacts that the powerline shall have outside Minnesota borders will be allowed at the hearing."

A source with Minnesota Power says the utility is "pleased with the decision [and] indicates that the project is moving forward." The source argued that "since Wisconsin has a full blown regulatory process ongoing it is not worthwhile" to duplicate the process. The source further argues that this exemption only applies at the state level and the utility will still be working closely with the local jurisdictional agencies in Minnesota to provide a "comprehensive review" of the portion of the line that is in-state. "Overall, we've had some delays, partly related to Minnesota Power taking into consideration a lot of the input we got from public hearings, [but] the process is moving forward, maybe not quite as fast as we anticipated, but it is moving," the utility source says.





Line would be part of network
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Supporters say proposed Duluth-Wausau power structure would tap into existing electricity



By Steve Kuchera
Duluth News Tribune, 7 May 2000

It's a natural question: If a high-voltage transmission line is built between Duluth and Wausau, Wis., where would the electricity to feed it come from?

It's a question without an easy answer, for the line wouldn't simply be a 250-mile-long extension cord connected to a single power source. It would, rather, be part of a complex, interconnected and increasingly strained network for moving electricity from generators to consumers across a large part of North America.

Right now, there are no contracts for electricity to flow through the line. There are no plans for new generation to power it. "No one will have to buy a new megawatt from anywhere and that line is going to load up the day it is energized because it would take its share of the existing flow off of the rest of the system,'' said John Heino, spokesman for Minnesota Power, one of the companies that wants to build the line.

Supporters of the proposed Duluth-Wausau line say it is needed to increase the reliability of the region's electrical supply. Opponents, concerned over the line's possible impact on health, the environment and property values, want Wisconsin to meet its electrical needs by building small generators to supply areas needing power.

Industry officials agree that more generators are needed. But no power plant runs all the time, they say, and provisions have to be made for that. "The reliability of electric supply depends on expansion of transmission as well as generation," said Mid-Continent Area Power Pool director of transmission services Bill Head.

Much of the United States and Canada east of the Rocky Mountains are tied together in one large electrical network. Inside the area generators run in sync with one another, all pouring electricity into the network. Each utility keeps track of how much electricity it is generating and how much its customers are using.

When a utility needs more electricity to meet its demands it has to generate more or buy it from other companies. When a utility has the ability to generate more electricity than it needs, it may sell the excess. The backbone of the network is the transmission lines that carry power from one area to another. There are 20,000 miles of transmission lines within the Mid-Continent Area Power Pool alone, which covers all or part of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

The pool is an association of utilities, regulatory agencies and power marketers. One of the association's duties is to ensure the reliability of the bulk electric system within the region.

"The whole transmission system was built with the purpose of interconnecting different utilities," said Mike Michaud, a staff engineer with the Minnesota Department of Commerce. "It was originally intended for backup purposes. If one big plant a utility owned went off line they could import power from somewhere else."

But as America has moved toward deregulating the electrical industry, that has changed. In 1996 the federal government ruled that any utility or broker could send electricity over any available transmission line at the same cost as the utility owning the line.

The open access ruling converted the transmission system into a marketplace for wholesale electricity like nothing seen before. Before open access there were around 3,000 power transactions a month in the Mid-Continent Area Power Pool region. Today there are nearly 10,000 transactions monthly. "Historically, utilities built their own generation or had firm contractual arrangements (with other utilities) to buy electricity," said Michaud. "The decisions today about what to buy from whom are pretty much driven by economics."

The changes in how electricity is bought and sold, along with America's growing economy and appetite for electricity, are straining the transmission system. Between 1996 and 1998, the number of major blackouts across the U.S. increased 64 percent. In February the Electric Power Research Institute announced it would undertake a two-year study of the causes of blackouts and to find solutions to prevent future outages.

One area of concern is bottlenecks in the transmission system. Wisconsin, with only four high-voltage connections to others states, is one such area. (Minnesota, by comparison, has 17 high-voltage connections to other states). The Duluth-Wausau line would have a capacity of 600 megawatts, with the ability to carry up to 750 megawatts for short periods of time.

Within the Mid-Continent Area Power Pool there is 42,598 megawatts of generating capacity. The peak demand in the summer of 1998 hit 35,998 megawatts. Generation and use, however, are not spread evenly across the region. So locations needing electricity buy it from areas with a surplus. "The large generation resources in the region are out in western North Dakota, where there is lignite coal," said Mid-Continent Area Power Pool senior engineer Charles Tyson. "And of course there's Manitoba Hydro, and also quite a lot of generation around the Twin Cities and in western Nebraska."

Hence, there is a natural flow of electricity from the west into Wisconsin. Over the next three years 2,016 megawatts of generating capability are planned or under construction for the state. But Wisconsin will remain a net importer of power.

Complicating the build-more-plants locally argument is uncertainty over the move to allow consumers to buy electricity from whomever they want to. "In the mid-1990s, when electric utilities throughout the country saw a movement toward an open retail electric market, they became hesitant to build facilities because they are afraid they couldn't recover all the costs," said Public Service Commission of Wisconsin spokesman Jeff Butson. Many states have moved toward some retail competition. In Wisconsin, planning for possible deregulation is on hold while the state deals with its reliability problems.


Steve Kuchera can be reached at (218) 279-5503 or (877) 269-9672, or by e-mail at skuchera@duluthnews.com.





Power available for Duluth-Wausau line
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


May 8, 2000
Associated Press Newswires

DULUTH, Minn. (AP) - A proposed high-voltage transmission line between Duluth and Wausau, Wis., would move electricity that already is being generated but is not being moved effectively in an overloaded network, a utility spokesman says.

"No one will have to buy a new megawatt from anywhere and that line is going to load up the day it is energized because it would take its share of the existing flow off of the rest of the system," said John Heino, spokesman for Minnesota Power, one of the companies that wants to build the line.

Supporters of the proposed 250-mile line say it is needed to increase the reliability of the region's electrical supply. Opponents, concerned over the line's possible impact on health, the environment and property values, want Wisconsin to meet its electrical needs by building small generators to supply areas needing power.

Industry officials agree that more generators are needed. However, they say provisions also must be made for times when power plants are pulled out of service.

"The reliability of electric supply depends on expansion of transmission as well as generation," said Mid-Continent Area Power Pool director of transmission services Bill Head.

Much of the United States and Canada east of the Rocky Mountains are tied together in one large electrical network. Inside the area generators run in sync with one another, all pouring electricity into the network. Each utility keeps track of how much electricity it is generating and how much its customers are using.

When a utility needs more electricity to meet its demands it must generate more or buy it from other companies. When a utility has the ability to generate more electricity than it needs, it may sell the excess.

The backbone of the network is the transmission lines that carry power from one area to another. There are 20,000 miles of transmission lines within the Mid-Continent Area Power Pool alone, which covers all or part of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

The pool is an association of utilities, regulatory agencies and power marketers. One of the association's duties is to ensure the reliability of the bulk electric system within the region.

"The whole transmission system was built with the purpose of interconnecting different utilities," said Mike Michaud, a staff engineer with the Minnesota Department of Commerce. "It was originally intended for backup purposes. If one big plant a utility owned went off line they could import power from somewhere else."

The transmission system became even more important as America has moved toward deregulating the electrical industry. In 1996 the federal government ruled that any utility or broker could send electricity over any available transmission line at the same cost as the utility owning the line.

The open access ruling converted the transmission system into a marketplace for wholesale electricity. Prior to open access there were around 3,000 power transactions a month in the Mid-Continent Area Power Pool region. Today there are nearly 10,000 transactions monthly.

The changes in how electricity is bought and sold, along with America's growing economy and appetite for electricity, are straining the transmission system. Between 1996 and 1998, the number of major blackouts across the United States increased 64 percent.

One area of concern is bottlenecks in the transmission system. Wisconsin, with only four high-voltage connections to others states, is one such area. (Minnesota, by comparison, has 17 high-voltage connections to other states).

The Duluth-Wausau line would have a capacity of 600 megawatts, with the ability to carry up to 750 megawatts for short periods of time.

Within the Mid-Continent Area Power Pool there is 42,598 megawatts of generating capacity. The peak demand in the summer of 1998 hit 35,998 megawatts. Generation and use, however, are not spread evenly across the region. So locations needing electricity buy it from areas with a surplus.

"The large generation resources in the region are out in western North Dakota, where there is lignite coal," said Mid-Continent Area Power Pool senior engineer Charles Tyson. "And of course there's Manitoba Hydro , and also quite a lot of generation around the Twin Cities and in western Nebraska."

Thus there is a natural flow of electricity from the west into Wisconsin, which is expected to remain a net importer of power despite 2,016 megawatts of generating capability are planned or under construction for the state over the next three years.



Copyright 2000. The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

 




Power line targeted by protestors
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Marilee Reinke
The Superior Daily Telegram,
May 10, 2000

On Tuesday morning a line of protesters stood outside the entryway at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center as Minnesota Power officials held their stockholders meeting. Wisconsin and Minnesota residents are angry with Wisconsin Public Services Corp. and Minnesota Power's proposal to build a 230-mile, 345-kilovolt transmission line from Duluth to Wausau.

Opponents to the $125 million to $175 million line cite problems with stray voltage, electric and magnetic fields, decreases in property values and environmental and health hazards. Opponents say there are other energy sources like natural gas, wind and solar power and fuel cells. Those in favor of the project argue the line is needed to handle the increased need for reliable energy.

John Heino, Minnesota Power's manager of policy development, said in the last 20 years there has been no major upgrade to the system. "We believe a line is badly needed and the evidence supports that," said Heino.

The catalyst for the proposed Arrowhead-Weston transmission line was the interruption of customer power, a problem that started in the summer of 1997. Substitute power was brought in, however it came through a system not designed to handle such loads. In June 1998 a storm in the Twin Cities caused a power grid to fail in parts of Minnesota, the Dakotas and Canada, leaving these areas with no electrical power for more than an hour.

Lost previously was the King-Eau Claire 345-kilovolt line, which added to the problem. This is the only major power line running from Minnesota to Wisconsin.

"If the line was built it would take the load off the Eau Claire line," Heino said.

The power grid is overseen by Mid-Continent Area Power Pool (MAPP), which handles power flow in seven states and parts of Canada. The advantage of this power grid is if one utility operator needs more power, the electricity can be purchased from those with extra current.

"The line is needed to improve the reliability to the region," said Gordon Pietsch, MAPP's director of reliability.

Added reliability has been necessary with the advent of the federal government's 1996 decision to deregulate the electric industry. Deregulation means any utility can have access to transmission lines at the same cost as the owner of the line, said Pietsch. "It was supposed to level the playing field," Pietsch said.

But Mary Nelson of Richfield, Minn. disagrees with the idea another line is needed. Nelson owns 80 acres in Price County - acreage which the line is supposed to pass through. This land has been in her family since the 1930s. She and her husband had hoped to retire there.

"Our lives have been put on hold," said Nelson. "Five generations of my family are going to be affected by this. I believe there is no need for a line. Is it need or greed?"

Two routes are being proposed. One goes from Duluth to Superior to Ladysmith then to Prentice, ending in Wausau. The other has the line going the same route until Ladysmith where the line goes to Owen to Edgar and up to Wausau. Each route has at least two choices and up to five choices in the way the line can travel. Much depends on the environment, number of homes nearby, farmland, recreational uses of the land and archeological resources.

There are two structures available to use. One type is the two-pole H line. On average it would reach 90 feet in height and have a right-of-way of 150 feet. The second structure is a single pole connecting to an existing line and a new line on the same pole. It can reach 130 feet and has a right-of-way of 120 feet.

Ann Stewart, U. S. information officer for the Pimicikamak Crees of Canada, is against the line because Manitoba Hydro and a coal-generated electrical plant in North Dakota provides power to American utilities.

The Canadian company produces energy by damming the Nelson and Churchill Rivers, which flow through land owned by the Pimicikamak Cree nation. Stewart said Manitoba Hydro's generating plant has caused flooding, loss of bird migrating and breeding grounds, bank erosion, soil pollution and loss of traditional Cree ways.

"Manitoba Hydro has destroyed the Cree's way of life," said Stewart. "They have lost their hunting, fishing and trapping economy."

"I am protesting the line because I believe the Cross Lake Crees' human rights have been violated," said Diane Peterson of White Bear Lake, Minn. "I want no part in bloodstained electricity."

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin and Minnesota Environmental Quality Board will be holding public hearings concerning the line later in the summer, said Heino.

"It will be up to the regulators in both states to decide how the environment and landowners' concerns stand up to the electric needs of millions of people," Heino said.

If approved, the line could begin operation in 2002 or early 2003.


� Copyright 2000 Murphy McGinnis Interative. All rights reserved.





Powerline Resolution
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


From: Jeff Peterson peterson@win.bright.net
May 15, 2000

I'm pleased to report that the Wisconsin Green Party's Coordinating Council adopted the following resolution at their 5/13/00 meeting:

WHEREAS, Wisconsin Public Service and Minnesota Power propose to construct a 250-mile-long, 345-kilovolt transmission line variously known as "Arrowhead-Weston," "Arrowhead-Arpin," and "Power Up Wisconsin" across northern Wisconsin from near Duluth, MN to Wausau, WI; and,

WHEREAS, this line's right-of-way would be up to 150 feet wide, directly impacting some 4,500 acres of forest and agricultural lands; and,

WHEREAS, this line would directly affect 7,000 property owners, who face the likelihood of having their land condemned through the utilities' right of eminent domain; and

WHEREAS, this line would create undesirable aesthetic impacts with its 130' pylons (poles) as tall as a 13-story building; and,

WHEREAS, the use and maintenance of this line would create health hazards for people and wildlife due to the electromagnetic radiation it would generate and the herbicides which would be sprayed beneath it; and,

WHEREAS, this line would in all likelihood be used to supply power to the proposed Crandon mine and the existing Project ELF facility, both of which are opposed by the Wisconsin Green Party; and,

WHEREAS, this line would carry power generated by Manitoba Hydro in Candada, a business which has operated with total disregard for the cultural and economic welfare of indigenous Cree communities in Manitoba; and,

WHEREAS, the Wisconsin Green Party believes that power generation should be located as near as possible to the intended point of use, and should rely on renewable resources that have as little negative impact as possible on human communities and ecological systems;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Wisconsin Green Party joins with the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board, the Wolf River Watershed Alliance, the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council, the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC), the Sierra Club, Save Our Unique Lands (SOUL), and many other groups and organizations who have expressed their opposition to this line; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Wisconsin Green Party will seek to insure that the issue of this powerline is injected into all public policy discussions and political debates in current and future campaign seasons until it is defeated.




Power-line impact statement available to public
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Report includes project description and environmental consequences


May 20, 2000
By Nikki Kallio
Wausau Daily Herald


"We're looking at much better alternatives than this dinosaur they're proposing." -- Ed Garvey, SOUL attorney

MADISON -- A draft environmental impact statement on the proposed power line from Duluth to Rothschild will be in the mail to people who requested it by early next week, according to the Public Service Commission. PSC officials are sending about 2,300 copies of the 400- to 500-page report to people who already have requested it, said Jeff Butson, public affairs director.

The report also will be available online and in libraries in the proposed 250-mile route area.

The Public Service Commission, the state's utility regulator, met in Madison Monday to discuss scheduling for public meetings on the draft environmental impact statement and public hearings after the final statement is issued. The meeting was attended by attorneys for the utilities, environmental representatives and two busloads of Save Our Unique Lands, or SOUL, members from central and northern Wisconsin. SOUL opposes the proposed route for the power line.

The draft environmental impact statement includes a description of the project, an analysis of the need for the project, route alternatives and significant consequences to the environment, archeological sites, historical sites, agriculture and socioeconomics, Butson said.

Wisconsin Public Service and Minnesota Power are jointly proposing the 345-kilovolt power line to increase electrical capacity in the state. Opponents fear loss of property value, aesthetic value and negative health effects.

The public will have a chance to review the draft environmental impact statement and comment on it during informational meetings that will be held this summer in the proposed route areas, Butson said. These informational meetings are not the same as the public hearings at which people's comments will be entered into the PSC's record. Those hearings will be held after the final environmental impact statement is released, Butson said.

Officials hope to release it this fall.

The number of public hearings hasn't been determined yet but the PSC wants to hold several so no one has to drive too far, Butson said. SOUL wants at least eight meetings.

In the meantime, SOUL members plan to peruse the draft environmental impact statement and plan their testimony at the hearings, said Ed Garvey, a Madison attorney representing SOUL.

"We have experts on everything from the impact on birds to forest fragmentation, wetlands, what this could do to endangered species, threatened species, we have experts looking at land values ... and very importantly we're looking at much better alternatives to this dinosaur they're proposing," Garvey said.

The decision on whether the power line will be built could come by the end of the year but that still hasn't been determined, Butson said. Garvey and SOUL members hope the public hearings won't be held until January to allow sufficient time for review and expert testimony.


Copyright � 2000


NOTE: Public hearings 2-9pm on the adequacy of the Draft EIS will be:
      June 6: Abbotsford High School
      June 13: Solon Springs High School
      June 14: Ladysmith High School
      June 15: Tomahawk High School
Meetings will be on DEIS and are not the public hearings to develop the record.





Draft EIS: power line not without dangers
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Proposed line could harm environment more than 3 alternatives, report says


May 23, 2000
Steve Kuchera
Duluth News Tribune

MILWAUKEE
A high-voltage power line between Duluth and Wausau, Wis., would help Wisconsin meet its growing need for electricity, according to the draft environmental impact statement on the proposed project. But it could come at a cost to the environment.

The proposed 250-mile-long, 345-kilovolt Arrowhead-Weston line that Minnesota Power and Wisconsin Public Service Corp. want to build has a greater potential to harm the environment than three possible alternative lines elsewhere in Wisconsin, the draft EIS found. The Arrowhead-Weston line, however, is the only one that utility companies have asked to build.

"Part of our legal requirements is to look at alternatives," said Annemarie Newman, spokeswoman for Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. The draft EIS also examined the possible environmental impacts of using different routes for the Arrowhead-Weston line and considered the need for the project. One thing it did not do was make a recommendation for or against the project.

"This is not a recommendation on the project," Newman said. "This is a statement of environmental impacts." The PSC began mailing copies of the 500-plus page statement Friday. "It's too early to comment on the draft," said Ed Garvey, Madison attorney for the group Save Our Unique Lands, which opposes the line. "We haven't even had our experts take a look at it." Garvey said his office is sending the draft EIS to SOUL's experts today. "Then it's just question of continuing to marshal public opinion, which doesn't need much marshaling, because just about everyone we know is opposed to it," he said.

A number of people in Northwestern Wisconsin oppose the proposed line because of fears over its potential impact on property values, health and the environment. Project supporters say the line is needed to increase the reliability of the region's electrical system.

Regulators in Minnesota and Wisconsin will decide which argument carries the most weight. The PSC will make its decision based upon a final environmental impact statement and upon testimony at hearings held after it is released. Minnesota Power manager of public affairs John Heino hadn't seen the draft EIS by mid-afternoon Monday. But he was pleased that it's been released. "It's an important document that begins the process of considering the potential impacts on the environment," he said. "We are anxious to consider ways that we can build this badly needed line and do it in a way that minimizes the impacts on the environment."

Picking a route for the line, provided it is built, is one way to minimize environmental impacts. The draft EIS broke the proposed line into three segments, each containing three possible routes. Each route has pros and cons. The three routes in the Oliver-Exeland, Wis., segment illustrates that.

One route maximizes the opportunities to put the transmission line on existing rights of way. Another route would minimize the contact people would have with the line but cuts across at least eight forests greater than 1,000 acres in size. Such forest fragmentation can endanger species such as timber wolves. The third possible route would combine advantages of the first two, but may need tribal approval to use an existing transmission line right of way through the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation, the draft EIS said.

From Exeland there are two possible corridors to Weston: a northern one running near Tripoli and one running near Owen.

"Forest fragmentation is a very serious concern on all of the Tripoli routes," the draft EIS said. "Limited access to construct the new line across many wetlands and streams is also a significant environmental concern in the Tripoli sector."

The northern segment, by comparison, has a lower potential of breaking up forests. The tradeoff is that this segment's routes "are primarily in an agricultural landscape ... impacts on farm operations could be an important concern."

It will be up to the PSC to decide which, if any, of the routes the line follows. Concerning the need for the line, the draft EIS found that the ability to bring more electricity into the state from the north or west "could accommodate expected growth in the use of electricity in Wisconsin."

Foes of the line say that Wisconsin should meet its power needs by building more power plants. The draft EIS, however, noted that relying solely on construction of power plants alone "may not be wise public policy."

"A cost comparison of the proposed 345 kv transmission line with transmission and non-transmission alternatives indicates that construction of the proposed line and the use of regional purchase power may be more cost-effective than relying on rate-based generation alternatives," the draft EIS said.

However, opposition to the line and a resulting need to condemn a large number of properties could drive up the project's costs, "making some of the alternatives more cost-competitive," the statement said.

The draft EIS also evaluated the relative risks of environmental impact of the Arrowhead-Weston line and three alternatives: one running between Chisago, Minn., and Weston, Wis.; one between the Twin Cities and Weston; and one between Red Wing, Minn., and Columbia, Wis. The Arrowhead-Weston route has the highest number of acres of county forest, the most miles of state trails, the most rivers listed in the Nationwide Rivers Inventory, and the most river and shoreline miles of Outstanding and Exceptional Resource Waters, the draft EIS said.

"These factors indicate an area largely dominated by natural landscape features that could be seriously harmed by the construction of a major high-voltage transmission line," the draft EIS says.

But the proposed Arrowhead-Weston line would also cross the area with the lowest density of roads and humans. That could translate to fewer landowners concerned over property values, health and safety. The public has until July 5 to comment on the draft EIS.

The state will use those comments as it prepares the final EIS, which could be completed by mid- to late-August. The PSC has to wait at least 30 days after the final EIS is released before it can begin public hearings on the project.

If the commission decides to hold hearings this fall, it could decide by the end of the year whether to allow the line to proceed. Before the line can be built Minnesota Power and Wisconsin Public Service Corp. also need permission from the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board to build 12 miles of line from Hermantown to the St. Louis River near Gary-New Duluth. Dates for public hearings in Minnesota haven't been set.


� 2000 PioneerPlanet / St. Paul (Minnesota) Pioneer Press - All Rights Reserved


 

 

Study: Duluth-to-Wausau power line could harm environment
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

May 24, 2000

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (AP) - Routes for a proposed power line running through the forests from Minnesota to central Wisconsin would have more impact on the environment than paths through populated areas, a state report says. Green Bay-based Wisconsin Public Service Corp. and Duluth-based Minnesota Power have proposed building a 240-mile, 345-kilovolt power line from the Arrowhead substation near Duluth to a substation at Weston near Wausau. The line would ship electricity from Canada and western states to Wisconsin. ut a route stretching from near Duluth to Weston via Tripoli ranked the highest in environmental impact, according to a 500-page environmental impact report the Wisconsin Public Service Commission recently released. The report analyzed several variations of the Duluth-to-Wausau route and alternate paths that would run more directly through central Wisconsin. The Duluth-to-Wausau route contains a high number of acres of county forest, miles of state trails, rivers and shorelines, a landscape that could be seriously harmed by construction of a major high-voltage line, the report said.

Another route that would parallel an existing high-capacity line running from King, Minn., through Eau Claire would damage natural resources less, the report said.

Still, that path would pass through high-populated areas, which could result in visibility problems, noise and property value issues, the report said. But that route is not among the paths the power companies have proposed. Date Valine of the private Wisconsin Public Service Corp. said the company is still analyzing the report's details.

"We have not had the time to get into the details of it. It's going to take us a few weeks," he said.

He said it is no surprise that the northern route would have the most impact on forests. A proposed southern route from Exeland through Owen to Wausau would affect agriculture, he said.

The application also requests authority to build a 42-mile-long transmission line from tje Oneida County village of Tripoli to the U.S. 8 substation in Rhinelander and to build a substation in Tripoli.

A final environmental statement is expected be released this fall. That report will be presented at public hearings to determine whether the power line should be built and what route it should take.

The Wisconsin Public Service Commission will make the final decision on the line.

� Copyright 2000, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. All rights reserved.

 




Wisconsin Utility Agency Says Power Line Would Ease Shortages,
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Raise Concerns



May 25, 2000
Lee Hawkins Jr.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

May 25--Staffers at the state's top utility agency said Wednesday that construction of a 240-mile transmission line stretching from Wausau to Duluth, Minn., would ease potential electric shortages but raises significant environmental concerns.

The 345-kilovolt Arrowhead-Weston line could help meet Wisconsin's growing demand for electricity and be more cost-effective than alternatives. But it could also cause environmental problems by cutting wide swaths through forested areas passing over wetlands and streams, according to an environmental impact statement issued by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission staff.

The report was devised to give the public and the ageny's three commissioners information on factors such as environmental implications and route alternatives, said Jeff Butson, a spokesman.

"This document is not reaching conclusions. Its purpose is to provide information to the public and utility regulators about the utilities' proposal," Butson said. "That will be left to the public and the commissioners. This is simply an analysis of the different components and criteria."

Wisconsin Public Service Corp. of Green Bay and Minnesota Power Inc. of Duluth would build the line, which they say is needed because Wisconsin's power supply system often operates "close to the edge." If approved, the power line would cost an estimated $125 million to $175 million and would be the state's first major long-distance power transmission project in 30 years.

Although no specific route has been selected, the commission staff studied eight possible paths for the line based on the impacts each would have on state properties, trails and river ways, road and population densities and other factors.

Construction of the line could ignite protests from environmentalists and landowners, according to the staff.

The routes that impose the least on public landowners tend to have a greater impact on the environment, and those that have the least environmental impact seem to cross further into the public domain. The power line and its 150-foot right of way could cross an Indian reservation and important wetlands, rivers and forests in central and northwestern Wisconsin.

For example, a route that would extend from Exeland to Weston by way of Tripoli would cross over the highest number of county forest acreage and the most miles of state trails, but it contains the lowest road and human population densities, the report says.

Another option would cross the lowest percentage of wetlands and the fewest state properties but "could result in greater public visibility and an increased level of concern regarding noise, property values, and health and safety issues," the report shows.

With a dearth of generation in Wisconsin, utilities often try to import power from Minnesota and other sources over a single transmission line across central Wisconsin -- the state's only connection to the west. But utilities have branded that transmission line one of the most congested in the Midwest. Wisconsin Public Service and Minnesota Power have said the overburdened line "leaves the entire upper Midwest vulnerable to blackouts." Staffers also said the project and the fact that utilities will buy some power on the competitive market would be cheaper than alternatives, which included wind generation.

The commission plans to hold four informal public information sessions in June and could hold public hearings in September.


To see more of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.jsonline.com
(c) 2000, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News




Duluth power-line hearings scheduled
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Duluth News Tribune
May 26, 2000
http://www.duluthnews.com/today/dnt/local/pow.htm

Minnesota has set the schedule for hearings on the Duluth-area segment of a proposed transmission line between Hermantown and Wausau, Wis. Public hearings will begin at 7 p.m. on Aug. 28 and 29 at the Black Woods Conference Center in Proctor. People can comment on or ask questions about Minnesota Power's request for an exemption from certain state requirements for route designation and construction permits for 12 miles of proposed transmission line. The 345-kilovolt line would follow an existing 115-kilovolt line from the Arrowhead substation in Hermantown to the St. Louis River near Gary-New Duluth.

The public hearings will last until all interested people have spoken or 10:30 p.m., whichever comes first. If a third public hearing is necessary. It will be held on Sept. 9 at a time and location yet to be determined. The evidentiary hearings in the matter will begin at 9 a.m. on Aug. 28 at Black Woods and run daily through Sept. 1. If necessary, the evidentiary hearings will resume on Sept. 5 and run daily through Sept. 8, then on Sept. 11 through Sept. 13. Administrative Law Judge Kenneth A. Nickolai released the schedule Friday in a prehearing order.

 

 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
top
Background on proposed MN-WI transmission lines
Transmission line - Updates: 2002 . 2001, 01-04 , 05-09 .
• 2000: 01-04, 05, 06-07, 08-10, 11, 12 . 1999 .
Wisconsin's Rural RebellionModel Resolution on proposed Transmission Lines
Background on hydroelectric dams destroying Manitoba Cree rivers
Hydroelectric Dams - Updates: 2001, 2000: 01-03, 04-07 . 1999 .
Midwest Treaty Network Contents