Two Utilities Say Manitoba Hydro Refuses to Talk to WI
Citizens Save Our Unique Lands, Inc., press release
October 7, 2000
Manitoba Hydro, the state-owned utility of Manitoba, Canada, turned
down an invitation to address Wisconsin citizens about the 345-kilovolt
transmission line proposed by Wisconsin Public Service Corporation and
Allete (Minnesota Power).
On Wednesday, Pam Rasmussen, siting analyst for Xcel Energy (formerly
Northern States Power) and Don Lemke, board member of Jump River Electric
Cooperative, told a meeting of the Rusk County Retired Educators Association
that Manitoba Hydro had "refused" their invitation to address the teachers.
"Manitoba Hydro has declared secret all important data on its operations,"
said Roger Steffen, who attended the utilities' presentation. Steffen
is on the board of directors of Save Our Unique Lands, Inc., that opposes
the new 250-mile line.
On August 28, testimony by Pimicikamak Cree Nation of Cross Lake, Manitoba
at the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board's hearing in Proctor, Minnesota,
alerted Americans to the Canadian utility's practices:
"Such stonewalling by a Canadian utility should be completely unacceptable
and would be if it were an American utility, and yet it appears to be
an acceptable cost of doing business with Manitoba Hydro."
For several months, SOUL has pressed for public hearings and expanded
locales in northern Wisconsin, where the line would be built. "Our organization
is built upon researching and presenting the facts," Steffen said. "If
Manitoba Hydro refuses to meet with former teachers, I wonder how forthright
it is with American utilities?"
The Arrowhead-Weston transmission line would transmit Manitoba Hydro's
electricity through Wisconsin to Chicago markets. Northern Manitoba's
ecology is devastated as the Nelson River's flow is continually altered
to meet electric demand.
"As American citizens, we need to be assured that we can continue to
make decisions in a manner that includes all information," said Tom Kreager,
president of SOUL. "We need to continue to utilize our free speech to
speak for these people who continue to share their story with us."
For more information:
Roger Steffen 715-585-2349
Final environmental study issued on northwoods power line
Final environmental study issued on northwoods power line
Oct. 12, 2000
A final environmental impact statement on a proposed power transmission
line across northwestern Wisconsin comes to conclusions similar to those
in a draft report issued last May:
The 250-mile, 345-kilovolt line would help Wisconsin meet a growing
need for electricity, but at a cost to the environment.
The final statement, mailed out by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission
Tuesday and reviewed by the Duluth News-Tribune, makes no definite recommendation
for or against the project.
"It lets readers do that for themselves," PSC spokesman Jeff Butson
said. "That's all it's meant to do: lay out all the options, look at the
different route alternatives, make sure all the different issues that
have to be looked at are looked at."
But the statement raises the possibility that Wisconsin might meet its
power needs through a combination of new generators and transmission-line
projects of a smaller scale than the Arrowhead-Weston proposal.
Minnesota Power and Wisconsin Public Service Corp. propose building
the line between Hermantown, Minn., and Wausau, Wis.
Project supporters say it's needed to increase the reliability of the
region's transmission network and to meet Wisconsin's growing need for
Opponents contend the project poses a threat to health, the environment
and property values. Some say the state should meet its power needs by
building more power plants.
The environmental impact statement said 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. Between 1998 and 2007, statewide
electric demand in Wisconsin is expected to grow a total of 2,365 MW (megawatts),
or nearly 300 MW per year," it said.
More than 1,600 megawatts of new generation are planned in the state,
Butson said. Plans for more than 4,000 additional megawatts have been
announced, but utilities have not applied for state permits for any of
those projects as yet.
Besides, relying solely on building power plants may not be a wise policy,
the environmental impact statement says. "Traditionally, a blend of transmission
and generation projects and energy efficiency measures have been used
to keep up with increases in electric demand," it said. It could be cheaper
to build the line and buy electricity from elsewhere in the region than
to rely on new generation here, the statement said.
Although buying electricity from elsewhere in the region might be cheaper
than building new power plants, opposition to the line and the 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
The project cost is projected at $214 million or more, which could raise
electric rates by 1.2 percent.
The environmental impact statement is just one piece of evidence the
three-member PSC will consider in deciding whether to approve, reject
or modify the proposal. "A great deal of weight will be placed on the
direct public testimony that we'll be taking later this year," Butson
If the PSC approves the project, it would then decide on alternative
According to the statement:
- There are three possible routes between Oliver, just southwest of
Superior in Douglas County, and Exeland, in Sawyer County.
One would maximize opportunities to put the transmission line on existing
rights of way.
Another would minimize contact with people but would cut across at least
eight forests larger than 1,000 acres. Such forest fragmentation can affect
species such as wolves.
The third possible route would combine advantages of the first two.
- From Exeland, there are two possible corridors to Wausau: a northern
one near Tripoli, on the Oneida-Lincoln county line, and one near Owen,
in northern Clark County. Each corridor contains four possible routes.
Forest fragmentation, limited access, wetlands and streams are serious
concerns on all of the Tripoli routes. The northern segment has a lower
potential of breaking up forests, but would affect more farms.
"It looks like an interesting read," said Linda Ceylor, a member of
the anti-Arrowhead-Weston group Save Our Unique Lands, shortly after receiving
"I think they've examined a few more options," she said. "They do a
lot more deep cost analysis. The environmental impacts look like they're
going to be identical if not worse."
Minnesota Power spokesman Terry Johnson said the company hadn't received
its copy yet. "We are pleased that this step is completed, and we are
anxious to review the document," he said.
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