Power companies call it Power Up, Wisconsin.
Criticized impact statement
may be revised
It should really be called Up Yours, Wisconsin
July 6, 2000
MILWAUKEE (AP) - Opponents of a proposed electrical transmission line
in northwestern Wisconsin have assurances from state officials that an
environmental impact statement will be reviewed and possibly rewritten.
A preliminary draft of the statement that environmentalists have criticized
"is just that, a draft," Public Service Commission spokesman Jeff Butson
said. "It is a document that changes."
Wisconsin Public Service Corp. of Green Bay and Minnesota Power Corp.
of Duluth, Minn., parent of Superior Water Light & Power Co., want to
build a 250-mile, 345-kilovolt power line from a substation near Duluth
to a substation at Weston near Wausau. The state needs the current that
the line would provide, the utilities say.
Opponents say the line's transmission towers would be unsightly and
would reduce neighboring property values. On the final day for the commission
to accept public comment on the statement, Wisconsin's Environmental Decade
Inc. argued Wednesday that the line would increase the use of coal-burning
generators, causing more smog, mercury pollution and acid rain.
Decade spokesman Keith Reopelle said the project's proponents have "cooked
the numbers in their application to favor the line over less costly and
environmentally friendlier options like energy efficiency." The environmental
impact statement fails to consider the options, he said.
Wisconsin Public Service Corp. spokesman Jim Streed said comments on
alternatives will be available during hearings on the statement later
A 500-page study report by the commission in May, analyzing several
variations for the line's route, said one from near Duluth to Weston via
Tripoli ranked the highest in environmental impact. The route would affect
county forests, recreation trails and rivers, it said.
A route that would parallel an existing high-capacity line from King,
Minn., through Eau Claire would damage natural resources less but would
be visible in urban areas, it said. That route was not on the list of
paths proposed by the utilities.
The Citizens Utility Board, a customer-advocacy group, asked the commission
in May to postpone its consideration of the application, saying the documents
lacked a required engineering plan.
An agricultural impact statement in June by the state Department of
Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection said the construction could
force farmers to change planting patterns.
Save Our Unique Lands (SOUL), a northern Wisconsin organization of landowners,
said last week the commission is biased in favor of the project and that
the application should be considered by another agency.
PSC refuses to require new utility application for power line project
The Daily Globe [Ironwood MI]
July 10, 2000, p11
MADISON, Wis. -"Predictable," said Richard Steffen, a retired electrical
engineer and secretary of a northern Wisconsin group called SOUL, when the
Public Service Commission Thursday refused to require a new utility
application for a major power line proposed across northern Wisconsin.
Steffen was among several members of Save Our Unique Lands which is asking
the commission to deny the utilities' application to construct a
345-kilovolt transmission line from Wausau to Duluth. Wisconsin Public
Service Corporation and Minnesota Power claim the $125 million to $175
million line is necessary to keep up with electrical demands.
"Customers expect electricity to be there when it's needed, so we have to
make sure the delivery system can fulfill that expectation," said Patrick
Schrickel, president and chief operating of officer of the Wisconsin Public Service in a press release.
The issue before the commission Thursday was whether an engineering study
was submitted to the Department of Natural Resources 60 days before the
application was filed. SOUL representatives have taken issue with the
department's claim that an appropriate study was filed.
The Citizens Utility Board filed a complaint with the commission arguing the
utilities had not handed in the engineering plan to the DNR on time. At its
regular Thursday open meeting, the commission rejected CUB's request, citing
a letter from the DNR which indicated it was satisfied that the utilities
had met all legal requirements regarding the engineering study.
Rep. Marty Reynolds, D-Ladysmith, took issue with the commission's ruling.
"It is not the job of the DNR to assimilate information and create an
engineering plan," said Reynolds, who attended Thursday's meeting.
Ed Garvey, a Madison attorney representing SOUL, questioned the need for the
"I have seen nothing to indicate that they need this power Garvey said
following the meeting.
Reynolds said the power line approval process has been handled improperly.
"The process did not work for the people of the state of Wisconsin today
Reynolds said. "It worked for the corporations, but not for the people."
A PSC spokesperson said the commissioners made the only decision they
could. "We do not have the authority to make that decision, if the DNR
is satisfied then we do not have the authority on this matter to make
that decision,"said Annemarie Newman.
PSC responsible for power line decision
Some say commission is biased
By Cathy Peterson
The Bee, Phillips [WI], 19 July 2000
(Editor1s note: This is part of the Sawyer County Record1s continuing
coverage of issues relating to the proposed construction of the Power
Up Wisconsin power line running through northwestern Wisconsin.)
Hundreds are expected to testify during the upcoming public and technical
hearings on the proposed Arrowhead-to-Weston transmission line.
This joint venture of the Wisconsin Public Service Corporation and Minnesota
Power to build a 250-mile, 345-kilovolt electric power line would impact
11 northern Wisconsin counties. At the end of the hearings, however, just
the three people comprising the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin
will decide if the $125 to $175 million power line will be built. Although
the PSC is set up as an independent regulatory agency, those opposing
the power line question the PSC1s impartiality, and have filed a motion
with the PSC asking it to recuse itself from making any decision on the
The PSC commissioners were not available for comment since they are
not permitted to talk to the public about the issue, according to Sandy
Paske, a PSC administrative assistant. She explained that the commissioners
are prohibited from commenting on any open, contested case. In making
their final decision, the commissioners will be relying heavily on the
work of the PSC staff. Many of the staff members, including Neil Michek,
case coordinator, Jeff Butson, media contact, Kathy Zuelsdorff, environmental
coordinator, and others, have been involved in the project Docket Number
05-CE-113, commonly known as "Power Up Wisconsin."
In an official publication explaining who they are and what they do,
the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) describes itself as an
independent regulatory agency dedicated to serving the public interest.
The agency is responsible for the regulation of Wisconsin public utilities,
including those owned by municipalities. The PSC, which receives its authority
from the state legislature, regulates such utilities as natural gas, telephone,
water, combined water and sewer and electricity.
More than 1,300 utilities are under the agency1s jurisdiction and most
must obtain PSC approval before instituting new rates, issuing stocks
or bonds or undertaking major construction projects, including power plants,
water wells or transmission lines.
Most of the 28 electric cooperatives with activities in the state are
not under the jurisdiction of the PSC. Leroy Hanson, general manager of
the Price Electric Cooperative, said cooperatives do not come under PSC
jurisdiction because the cooperatives are consumer-controlled. He said
each cooperative is governed by its own board of directors who are selected
by the votes of the cooperative1s consumer-members.
The PSC staff includes auditors, consultants, engineers, rate analysts,
attorneys, planners, research analysts, economists, consumer specialists,
court reporters, and paraprofessional and clerical workers.
According to the anticipated schedule provided by the PSC in May, the
commissioners decision is expected to be issued sometime after the end
of the technical hearings in October. Public testimony will be taken at
a series of hearings expected in September.
However, Save Our Unique Lands (SOUL), a grassroots organization formed
to oppose the power line, has asked the three PSC commissioners to step
aside from making the final decision on the project. On June 29, SOUL1s
counsel, Garvey & Stoddard, filed a motion with the PSC the previous day
requesting the commissioners recuse themselves from the case because of
their bias and partiality toward the transmission line supporters.
Ed Garvey, a legal counsel for SOUL, stated in a press release that
it is clear the commission had made its decision before the hearings began.
He said the public deserves fairness.
The supporting brief for the motion to recuse the commissioners lists
several reasons for the request. These include:
"Everything is being followed according to prescribed procedure, " she said.
"All the comments I receive about the transmission line, whether by letter,
telephone or e-mail, and all the newspaper articles which I read about this
issue are being passed on to the Governor1s office."
- On April 15, 1999, when Wisconsin Public Service Corporation publicly
announced its plans for the project, Governor Thompson was quoted in
a WPS press release stating his support of the transmission line;
- After the application to construct this project had been filed, Governor
Thompson directed the construction of additional transmission lines
in his State of the State Address. Mary Moser, Governor Thompson1s Northern
representative, said the PSC has not made a decision and those who believe
they have are making allegations based on personal opinions. She said
the time for public comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement
ended on July 5 and public information meetings have been scheduled.
(Cathy Peterson writes for the Phillips Bee, a member
of the Up North Newspaper Network.)
Well-funded Environmental Groups Prepared
to Oppose Business Projects
to Linda Sturnot....
WISCONSIN NEWSPAPER LINKS
MILWAUKEE BUSINESS JOURNAL
Industry News Columns
Public Policy Journal, July 21, 2000
No matter how big or small the project, Wisconsin Electric Power Co.
goes out of its way to keep environmental lobbyists informed of future
plans and programs.
"The power of the (environmental lobbying community) is strong and growing,
and one doesn't want to overlook the value of an endorsement or to avoid
their opposition," says Mike John, a spokesman for Wisconsin Electric
Power Co., the state's largest electricity utility and a subsidiary of
Wisconsin Energy Corp., Milwaukee.
"If they come out against one of our programs, it could be DOA (dead
on arrival)," John says.
Environmental groups and allied activists are aggressively fighting
the expansion of electricity transmission, power generation, transportation
and other projects.
Highway projects are routinely opposed by environmental groups in favor
of mass transit options that don't work or would be too costly, says a
spokesman for the Wisconsin Road Builders Association.
While state utilities and business groups believe there is still a chance
that the 250-mile, high-voltage Arrowhead transmission line will be built
from Wausau to Duluth, Minn., an opposition group called SOUL considers
the project all but dead.
Based in Wausau, SOUL -- an acronym for Save Our Unique Lands -- is
allied with environmental groups and other activists to oppose the Arrowhead
line. SOUL is confident the draft environmental impact statement from
the state Public Service Commission is riddled with flaws.
NO WIGGLE ROOM
Other eco-battlegrounds are unfolding in Wisconsin, where the environmental
lobby has established a combative presence. Proposed water pollution regulations
supported by most environmental groups could cost businesses, farmers
and residents more than $2 billion, and still there are claims the state
isn't doing nearly enough to protect lakes and rivers.
The nonpoint water pollution regulations are the most extensive environmental
rules ever considered in Wisconsin, says a spokesman for the River Alliance
of Wisconsin. The cost of implementing the clean water regulations is
of no consequence, the spokesman says.
"There is never much room for compromise with them," says Bill Reid,
a government affairs director for the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association
of Commerce. "(Environmentalists) are slowly turning up the heat, but
we will continue to fight. It's a tenuous situation because it only takes
one to file a lawsuit."
Collectively, environmental groups that lobby the Legislature are better
organized, have a higher level of funding and boast of more grass-roots
power than ever before, says state Rep. Jeff Plale (D-South Milwaukee).
Environmental groups are making life in the Democratic caucus more interesting,
"Sometimes, Democrats are put in an awkward position because we have
environmental interests pitted against labor interests in the fight to
maintain a balance of jobs and growth," he says.
MONEY TO SPEND
Thanks to refinements in the environmental associations' computer databases,
the groups are more sophisticated in mobilizing their membership and in
raising money, says Steve Hiniker, executive director of the Citizen's
Utility Board. CUB often joins the environmental lobby when opposing some
"I would be very concerned at WMC (Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce)
or any other business group that is traditionally at loggerheads with
the environmentalists," says Hiniker. "If legislators aren't paying attention
to environmental issues, it could come back to haunt them."
On the issue of energy, Wisconsin clearly needs more high-voltage transmission
lines and generation plants, says WMC government affairs director Eric
Borgerding. But environmental groups won't accept that a modern, growing
economy demands more energy, he says.
"They would have us believe we are supposed to solve our energy problems
with more conservation, renewables, and the promise of fuel cells and
distributed power," Borgerding says. "These things are not viable."
Hiniker says the next round of legislative elections this fall will
feature an energized environmental movement with money to spend on key
Plale, who is considered sensitive to environmental issues, doesn't
regret the involvement of environmental groups in the legislative or election
processes. But he wishes there was more room for compromise.
"The militancy of some groups paints the whole environmental community
with the same wacky brush, and that isn't fair," Plale says. "They do
a disservice to those of us who care but still seek a balance."
Pete Millard can be reached at 414-278-7788 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 2000 American City Business Journals Inc.
Foes hope to highlight project's environmental problems
Rivers Awareness Tour
By Steve Kuchera
Duluth News Tribune
July 24, 2000
Opponents of the proposed Arrowhead-Weston high-voltage transmission
line believe the project would create a 250-mile-long swath of
environmental destruction and increased hardships for Cree Indians
living in Manitoba.
To draw attention to their concerns, power-line foes begin a weeklong
trek from near Duluth to Keshena, Wis., Friday. Along the way, the
group will hold paddles, hikes and social events to deliver its
"We think environmental costs are being left out of this debate,"
said Linda Ceylor, a spokeswoman for Save Our Unique Lands, one of
the organizers of the Rivers Awareness Tour.
"Once you've built the line, it's there," she said. "If we decide
in five years that we don't need it, are they really going to say
`OK, we'll take it out?' We can't just put things back the way they
Project supporters say the 345-kilovolt line that Minnesota Power and
Wisconsin Public Service Corporation want to build between
Hermantown and Wausau, Wis., will increase the reliability of the
region's electrical system and help Wisconsin meet its growing energy
Project opponents worry that the line will harm property values,
health and the environment. They say greater emphasis should be put
on conservation, renewable energy sources and on small power plants
built where the electricity is needed.
"An ecological approach to energy stresses conservation and the
alternatives available in the Midwest," said Kevin O'Brien,
spokesman for Minnesota Witness for Environmental Justice, which is
also involved in the rivers tour.
Much of the media attention on the power-line debate has focused on
the concerns of property owners along the line, creating an
impression that opposition to the line is a not-in-my-backyard
reaction, said Ann Stewart, another event organizer.
"But there are other issues, which are the ecological and the
bioregional ones, the effects of transmission lines crossing wild and
scenic areas," she said. "This line would cross a lot of special
The line would cross several rivers along its route, as well as pass
through forests, farms and wetlands. A draft environmental impact
statement done by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin found
the Arrowhead-Weston line has a greater potential to harm the
environment than three possible alternatives elsewhere in the state.
The Arrowhead-Weston line, however, is the only one that utility
companies have asked to build. And the firms say they will do what
they can to limit environmental damages.
"At all of the major streams and rivers we will use existing rights
of way, and most of those are transmission lines," said Bob
Lindholm, senior environmental compliance specialist with Minnesota
Lindholm has met with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
and Public Service Commission, the National Park Service and U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers to discuss ways to reduce the environmental
impact of the line. There have been discussions about improving the
scenic qualities of some rivers by having Minnesota Power pay to
redesign local power grids to eliminate several distribution lines
currently crossing the rivers.
There is no single route planned for the line. There are several
possible routes, each with pros and cons. Some routes run through
more remote areas -- keeping it away from people but breaking up
forests, which can affect animals, such as timber wolves, that
require solitude. Others make greater use of existing power or
pipeline right of ways -- reducing the problem of forest
fragmentation but bringing the line into close proximity to a larger
number of people.
It will be up to the Public Service Commission to decide if the need
for the line outweighs its environmental impacts and which, if any,
of the routes it will follow.
The commission's staff is working on a final environmental impact
statement, and is expected to begin hearings on the proposed line
Beyond the U.S. border
One issue the commissioners won't consider, but that some power-line
foes want people to be aware of, is the controversy between the Cross
Lake Cree and Manitoba Hydro. Four members of the Cross Lake (or
Pimicikamak) Cree Nation are scheduled to attend the River Awareness
"Part of this event is to make people aware that there is a problem
in Manitoba," Ceylor said. "It's something that has to be faced.
It's not just about us in our backyards."
The conflict between the Cross Lake Nation and Manitoba began in the
1970s, when Manitoba Hydro built dams on Nelson River north of
Winnipeg, flooding large tracts of land.
The flooding released mercury locked in the soils, polluting water
and fish. Fluctuating water levels, erosion and trees washed into the
reservoir have made water travel difficult and harmed wildlife. All
this, critics say, have devastated the Cree.
"You took a vibrant subsistence culture and destroyed it and are
replacing it with handouts," said Stewart, a lobbyist for the Cross
Four of the five Cree First Nations affected by the hydro projects
have accepted settlement packages totaling more than $350 million in
compensation. Some of the nations support further development.
The Cross Lake Cree, however, haven't reached a final settlement with
the company or province (which owns Manitoba Hydro) and don't want
development they view as destructive.
If Arrowhead-Weston is built, O'Brien said, "It will give Manitoba
Hydro the rationalization to double the amount of construction in
Manitoba Hydro's hydroelectric capability totals 5,003 megawatts, 60
percent of which is sold within the province. The company has an
untapped potential of another 5,000 megawatts.
By comparison, the Arrowhead-Weston line's normal capacity would be
600 megawatts, with the ability to carry up to 750 megawatts for
brief periods of time. And if it is built, the line would carry
electricity from a number of different sources, Minnesota Power
spokesman Terry Johnson said.
Trying to link Arrowhead-Weston with future, large-scale expansions
of Manitoba Hydro is "one of those unfortunate exaggerations we are
trying to contend with some of the folks campaigning in the U.S."
said Donne Flanagan, a Manitoba government spokesman. "They are
proponents of things like wind and solar and don't like hydro energy.
They have thrown some of the legitimate, long-standing issue of the
folks at Cross Lake into the middle of their campaigns."
O'Brien's group, Minnesota Witness for Environmental Justice, is
pressuring the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to cancel a
contract between Northern States Power and Manitoba Hydro. The group
urges more investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy.
"The Minnesota electricity consumer is purchasing a product from
Manitoba Hydro that doesn't meet our minimal Minnesota standards for
the environment and human decency," O'Brien said.
A new provincial government took office last year and has a greater
commitment to working with Manitoba's aboriginal peoples, Flanagan
"There is no denying there has been devastation caused by hydro
development over the years," Eric Robinson, Manitoba's Minister of
Aboriginal and Northern affairs and a member of the Cross Lake Cree
Nation, said. "As a new (provincial) government we are determined to
correct some of those wrongs that have been imposed upon our people."
"We have been misrepresented by environmental groups," Robinson
said. "It's my hope that these groups are not trying to achieve
their own ends by using the suffering and misery of Indian people."
Upper Midwest's River's Awareness Tour Kicks Off
Friday Evening, July 28
Paddlers, Native Americans, Environmentalists and Landowners To Unite
Against Threats to the Bioregion's Rivers from Proposed Duluth-Wausau
Catawba, WI, July 13 -- Grassroots organizations, tribes and individuals in
the Upper Midwest are joining forces this summer to bring attention to the
human and ecological impacts of a proposed 250-mile electric transmission
line from Duluth, Minnesota, to Wausau, Wisconsin.
"This spring's conference in Minneapolis about the lack of environmental
justice in the upper Midwest's energy policies, and the May 19 release of
the DEIS (draft environmental impact statement) on the proposed routes in
Wisconsin propelled us to take a bioregional perspective," said Linda
Ceylor, spokesperson for Save Our Unique Lands, Inc., a Wisconsin group.
"An ecological approach to energy stresses conservation and the alternatives
available in the Midwest," said Kevin Sands O'Brien, spokesperson for
Minnesota Witness for Environmental Justice.
According to the DEIS, the line will cross rivers such as the St. Louis, St.
Croix, Namekogan and Flambeau, as well as the Ice Age Trail. Other
ecological impacts mentioned are forest fragmentation from road and corridor
construction and degradation of wetlands.
"We've asked Pimicikamak Cree Indians to join us, since some of the power
transmitted on this line would be generated in their traditional land in
northern Manitoba," said Ceylor.
The week of events will include paddles and walks along the routes, as well
as social and educational activities in towns such as Gordon, Ladysmith,
Tomahawk and Medford.
All events are free and open to the public but registration is suggested,
but people will not be turned away on the day of the event. The tour begins
Friday evening, July 28 south of Duluth and ends at the Menominee Nation's
annual pow-wow in Keshena on Friday, August 4.
For information about events in Wisconsin, call 715-474-2271
For information about the kick-off in Minnesota, call 612-871-8404
(Information Officer, Pimicikamak Cree Nation)
121 West Grant Street/Suite 116
Minneapolis MN 55403-2340 USA
The River Awareness Tour
Coming through Tomahawk area - August 1
You may have heard about the folks from Canada coming through
our area to talk to us about how our use of power affects people far away.
The River Awareness Tour RAT, will bring members of the Cree Nation
through the Tomahawk area this coming Tuesday, August 1, for a walk
and paddle awareness event.
We want to invite you and friends to
participate with us to walk, or paddle, or just come for a visit and
a meal. We will be leaving from the parking area at the Mobile
station where the Highway 86/County D exit is on Highway 51 just East
of Tomahawk. We want to leave at 3:00 for a 2 mile walk down D to a
boat landing on Lake Alice. We will all pile into canoes around 5:00
for a one hour paddle over to Lee's Landing on County Highway A for
some food and visiting. The boat landing is off County D on Birch
Road 1.3 miles East of 51. If you can bring a canoe and vests,
please launch them before we start the walk, someone will be there to
watch them. Our plan is to eat around 6:30, food and refreshments
will be provided, it would help if you can bring a dish to pass or
deserts. Lee's Landing is about 5 miles East of Highway 51 on County
So come for some of it, or all of it, meet our neighbors to the
North, and do your part to stop the proposed transmission line from
passing through the Northwoods. I guarantee it will be ten times
more fun than a PSC hearing!! Feel free to pass this message around.
If you need more details, call 453-8510 or 453-6015, or send
questions to email@example.com. There are other RAT events
starting tomorrow in Duluth, details found on www.wakeupwisconsin.org
Paddle on! Jim Wise
Jim Wise firstname.lastname@example.org
DEMOCRACY IS LIKE A
MUSCLE WE MUST USE IT OR WE WILL LOSE IT
phone 715-453-6015 fax 715-453-9170
124 W Wisconsin Ave Tomahawk Wi 54487