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: 2003, 2001, 2000: 01-03., 04-07, 1999
power lines
Page Contents:
Proposed MN-WI transmission lines -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Updates: 2002

Jan. 28
ACCESS DENIED to Minnesota Power By Douglas Count 
Jan. 31 Power line hits big snag
Feb. 26 Sawyer County Board reaffirms opposition to 345KV power line
Mar. 20 Plan would bury cable under lake
Mar. 25 marked SOUL's first appearance in appellate court since filing an ...
March

Douglas County (Wisconsin) Stands Firm
Apr. 12 An amendment to the energy bill that could all but eliminate the NEPA process...
May 30 Eminent Domain Hearing, Marathon WI
May 29 MG&E executive joins ATC to jump start stalled project Williamson will lobby for planned transmission line
July 23 Federal Review Set for Arrowhead: National Park Service To Study River Crossing
Aug. 14

Wisconsin residents divided over planned power line, survey finds

Nov. 11

Cost estimate soars for power line

Nov. 14 Power line crossing Namekagon River is opposed Citizens speak out
Nov. 18 ALERT: Write NPS on transmission line by Wednesday!
Dec. 17 "Language in the "Notice of Request for Comments", - Public Service Commission

-------------------------------------

 


ACCESS DENIED TO Minnesota Power By Douglas County
-------------------------------------


Tue, 29 Jan 2002
From: SOUL tierpeg@yahoo.com

 

 

On January 28, 2002 the Douglas County Forestry Committee UNANIMOUSLY DENIED a request by Minnesota Power for access to County Forest property.

The request was being made to do "survey, borings and endangered species searches" on the proposed route for the Arrowhead Weston Line. The six members made the decision with little discussion citing the resolution passed in October 1999 by the full County Board (17-4) against the Arrowhead-Weston Line.

Three Minnesota Power executives left the meeting after the decision with little comment. About a dozen SOUL members were on hand for the meeting. It is apparent that the Douglas County Board is going to stand by its resolution and fight the Arrowhead-Weston Line.

 


Power line hits big snag
-------------------------------------

Douglas County committees refuse to
allow work on public land; new route might be needed

Januay 31, 2002
by Steve Kuchera
News Tribune Staff Writer


Douglas County has thrown a large monkey wrench into plans to build the Arrowhead-Weston high-voltage transmission line between Hermantown and the Wausau, Wis., area.

Two county committees have unanimously denied Minnesota Power permission to enter county land to conduct work necessary before the 345-kilovolt line can be built.

While that doesn't necessarily kill the project, it could force the utilities to go back to the Wisconsin Public Service Commission with a request to find a new route for the line.

"When the commission approves a route, there's a small amount of leeway on either side,'' said Public Service Commission spokeswoman Annmarie Newman. "But going outside of that would need commission approval.''

Minnesota Power is disappointed by the county action, company spokesman Terry Johnson said.

"At this point we're still investigating how we can work this out with the county,'' he said. "If we can't, I think we'll have to go back to the Public Service Commission and say, 'We're not able to follow through on the survey work because they haven't granted us permission.' ''

Minnesota Power's partner on the project, Green Bay-based Wisconsin Public Service Corp., can condemn private property for the line. But it has no such power over public property.

About 15 percent of the 208-mile route the Wisconsin Public Service Commission approved crosses public land. More than 13 miles cross Douglas County property.

On Monday the county's Forest, Parks & Recreation Committee rejected Minnesota Power's request to conduct surveys, soil boring and environmental studies on county-owned forest land.

"We had about a dozen SOUL members in the audience, and their faces were all smiles,'' Douglas County supervisor and committee member Mark Liebaert said.

Liebaert is also a board member for Save Our Unique Lands, a grass-roots group that opposes the Arrowhead-Weston line.

Liebaert said one reason the committee rejected Minnesota Power's request was because the full board voted 17-4 to oppose the line in October 1999.

Project opponents worry that the line will damage their health, their property values and the environment. Project supporters say the line will increase the reliability of the regional high-voltage transmission network and help Wisconsin meet its growing energy demand.

The line will carry 600 to 750 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 180,000 to 225,000 homes. Building it is estimated to cost $154 million to $215 million.

On Tuesday, the Douglas County Land and Development Committee followed the Forest Committee's lead, rejecting Minnesota Power's request to work on nonforest land owned by the county.

"We took it a step further,'' said Keith Allen, the committee's chairman. "We put a hold on all the county-owned land (the line might cross) until there's a final decision on what's going to happen with the power line. No one can buy it.''

The committee also decided to send word of its action to the six other Wisconsin counties the line will cross.

"I'm interested to see what happens in the other counties,'' Liebaert said. "This is bigger than what Minnesota Power would want everybody to know.''

Minnesota Power and Wisconsin Public Service are starting surveying work on the line from its two ends, Johnson said. So far, Douglas County is the only county the utilities have asked for permission to work on county-owned land.

"Most of the private landowners we've contacted in Douglas County have been cooperative,'' Johnson said. "There has been a problem down in Marathon County, where several landowners have denied us permission.''

The line's approved corridor enters Douglas County in Oliver, runs east and south past Solon Springs and into Washburn County. From Washburn County the line will run through Sawyer, Rusk, Taylor and Clark counties, ending near Weston in Marathon County.

Douglas and Washburn counties have more public land included in the approved power line corridor than do any of the other counties, Newman said.

Minnesota Power and Wisconsin Public Service Corp. proposed the 345-kilovolt line in 1999. The three-member PSC approved the line Aug 17. Work is scheduled to begin this year and be completed in 2005.



STEVE KUCHERA can be reached at (218) 279-5503, toll free at (877) 269-9672, or by e-mail at skuchera@duluthnews.com.


From: SOUL tierpeg@yahoo.com


Sawyer County Board reaffirms opposition to
-------------------------------------
345KV power line



By Terrell Boettcher
Sawyer County Record
February 26th, 2002


At its February 21 meeting, the Sawyer County Board of Supervisors reaffirmed a stance that the board originally took 2 1/2 years ago, by voting to oppose and protest the Arrowhead to Weston power line.

In September, 1999, when the board voted 14-1 to oppose the line, the 345,000 volt line had not yet been approved. Last August, the state Public Service Commission approved the line, which Minnesota Power of Duluth (Allete) and Wisconsin Public Service Corporation of Green Bay say will improve the reliability of the electric grid serving Wisconsin.

The 250-mile line between Duluth and Wausau will cross portions of the Towns of Bass Lake, Sand Lake, Couderay,Meteor and Weirgor.

Save Our Unique Lands (SOUL), an organization of private land owners opposing the line, asked the Sawyer County Board to take the same action that a Douglas County committee did last month when it denied the companies the right to survey along the route on county-owned land. But in Sawyer County,apparently none of the proposed corridor is on county-owned land, said board member Shirley Suhsen.

Jim Bassett said he was "really shocked that they are taking (the line) between Whitefish Lake and Sand Lake, one of the most highly-populated and high-value property areas in the county. You know it's going to devastate certain properties."

Hal Helwig said one reason the companies say they chose that route is because an existing highline and pipeline run through there. But "there's a lot to be suspicious about," he added. "It's a crazy thing, no question about it."

Ray Silack said a company representative told him it's cheaper to build a second line than to add on to the existing line.

Don Trettin, through whose property an Xcel Energy 161-KV line runs, said that "when your property gets devalued (by a power line), you cannot use that property (power company easement for the line) for anything other than a parking lot. You can't build on it. There are no tax breaks----it's full value and you pay the same taxes as if the power line wasn't there."

Bassett said the power company "will pay for the trees" that are removed, but nothing more. "Sawyer County taxpayers whose property this line crosses will lose financially," he said. "This is a private, for-profit company which in the end has the right of eminent domain. There's something wrong there."

Helwig added that "There is something wrong with the State of Wisconsin. If they would allow for the development and expansion of our own power plants in the state, we wouldn't have this (problem)."

The motion was approved unanimously on a voice vote.

www.hayward-wi.com

From: SOUL tierpeg@yahoo.com


March 25, 2002, Wausau, WI----March 25, 2002 marked SOUL's first appearance in appellate court since filing an appeal in Marathon County circuit court in Wausau. The courtroom was more than filled to capacity with citizens interested in all aspects of the proposed Arrowhead-Weston Transmission Line.

Rather than to decide on any of the issues, the court was called to rule on a Motion to Dismiss, regarding a technicality for filing an appeal, in an interpretation of the statutes, uncovered by Foley and Lardner for Wisconsin Public Service (WPS). Judge Howard listened to arguments by attorneys for WPS, who additionally represented Minnesota Power, and attorneys for SOUL, who additionally represented Environmental Decade. While the motion to dismiss was awarded to the applicants to construct the line, this is not a dismissal of the appeal.

On June 5th the court will reconvene to consider a timely motion by SOUL to represent more than thirty nine individual landowners in this case. Time allowing, a timetable for briefing and arguments on the matter at hand, the appeal of the Public Service Commission�s decision by the Commissioners for project construction may be considered.

As a matter of record, today�s case included arguments as the whether the utilities did indeed plan to pursue their new alternative route plan with the Public Service Commission. This new route, released to several newspapers in the Superior/Duluth area identifies a route which would impact more than 100 residences and pass through the Brule State Park, headwaters to the Brule and St. Croix Rivers. The utilities stated they were unable to comment on the new route citing possible compromise on �corporate strategy�.

In a time of discussion of budget reductions, this court case was truly considered a waste of county tax dollars by the many who attended the hearing. �What Wisconsin Public Service attorneys created today is an exact fit into SOUL strategy," stated Tom Kreager, President of SOUL. �This project is already several years behind schedule. Foley and Lardner added to this timeframe with a frivolous motion which will set the project, and court hearings, back several months. Possibly the utilities needed this time for strategy at the county level, as the counties along the line are, one by one, reaffirming resolutions against the line with stronger than ever wording. We consider this a victory."

Legally, SOUL and Environmental Decade will return to the courts several months from now with the same standing they had at the time of filing of the appeals, but with noticeably more individual landowners and interested parties to be named as part of each lawsuit. Judge Howard indicated the entire record, consisting of over 1200 testimonies against the line, more than 300 exhibits and 10,000 plus pages of transcripts was safely under lock and key in the courthouse.



For More Information Please Contact
Tom Kreager 715-693-3143 or Linda Ceylor 715-474-2271



Plan would bury cable under lake
-------------------------------------
Line would link Canadian power plants with U.S.



by Lee Berquist
of the Journal Sentinel staff
March 20, 2002


A 90-mile underwater cable could be laid across Lake Superior to link proposed power plants near Thunder Bay, Ontario, to customers in the United States.

A partnership that includes a U.S. company, Canadian municipal utilities and an Ontario Indian tribe wants to generate 1,120 megawatts of electricity using petroleum coke - a waste product of mining.

The developers said the $5.7 billion project is driven by cheaper energy costs in Canada and an exchange rate that makes Canadian goods cheaper when sold in the United States.

The plant would burn petroleum coke, which is a waste product in oil and gas fields in western Canada. Emissions from such plants are usually lower than from coal-fired plants.

The group plans to sell much of the power to markets in Michigan and Illinois by transporting it under Lake Superior, west of Isle Royale, to the Kewaunee Peninsula in Michigan's Upper Peninsula or around the western shore of Lake Superior.

Either way, the power would likely move through Wisconsin on transmission lines.

Any such plan would generate controversy.

"We would have concerns," said Keith Reopelle, program director of Wisconsin's Environmental Decade. "We would want to know how this would affect the Lake Superior ecosystem."

In Wisconsin, a power line that would be built from Wausau to Duluth, Minn., that has been approved by regulators continues to face a court battle and public opposition.

And depending on the route, new power lines would have to be built in Wisconsin - or at least expanded - to accommodate increased electricity flows, a transmission expert said.

Burying cable underwater is not a big problem, said Teresa Mogensen, director of transmission planning and service for The American Transmission Co. in Pewaukee, which owns and operates transmission lines in Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana.

Power is transported to Mackinac Island under Lake Huron, and another line runs under Lake Erie.

"The problem is interconnecting it and making sure that the system can accommodate a new load of electricity," Mogensen said.

Wisconsin's transmission system is now stressed in periods of high demand.

The American Transmission Co. would need to be involved in the project and has not been notified.

The project would be a joint venture between SynFuel of Glen Carbon, Ill.; Fort William First Nation, an Indian tribe and six municipal utilities in western Ontario.

Developers could begin construction with a 120-megawatt plant as early as this fall, according to Larry Herbert, general manager of Thunder Bay Hydro. Two other 500-megawatt plants would be built in the next few years.

The power would provide new supplies of electricity for Indian tribes in the province, as well as for the U.S., Herbert said.

But the project would require numerous approvals, and there were indications this week that not many parties had been notified. The International Joint Commission had not yet been notified, and neither had the Wisconsin Public Service Commission.

Among other matters, the International Joint Commission, based in Washington, D.C., has approval authority on water quality issues on water that bound the U.S. and Canada. The PSC approves transmission projects in Wisconsin.



http://www.jsonline.com/bym/news/mar02/28925.asp
Appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on March 21, 2002.




From: SOUL tierpeg@yahoo.com
March 2002


Douglas County (Wisconsin) Stands Firm
-------------------------------------




 

Recently, at a Douglas County Executive Committee meeting, Minnesota Power told the County Supervisors that they would be forced into pursuing an alternative route around Douglas County lands if the County denied them access to County property for the Arrowhead Line.

They presented the County Chairman with a large County map showing the PSC approved routes and THEIR new route avoiding County land. The new route looked like a crooked snake as it made its way from the NW tip of Douglas County and exited out the SE corner of Douglas County. Minnesota Power apparently used a VERY old map in drawing up this absurd route as their NEW route took them through what is property NOW OWNED by the DNR and runs directly through the BRULE RIVER State Forest.

To show you that this "new" route is a lie and could never be used - consider that this DNR land is the Head Waters of both the BRULE River and the St CROIX river. It also contains what the DNR considers one of their most sacred possessions - the historic portage trail between the Brule and St. Croix River systems. The DNR says this option WILL NOT be allowed.

Minnesota Power also told the County committee that they would be sending out letters to all the affected landowners along the new route - but have not done that yet.

So far Minnesota Power's tactics seem to have backfired as many of the County Supervisors feel as if Minnesota Power is trying to bulldoze its way around the County Board's wishes. Also, citizens along the new route seem to be joining the fight. The Supervisors have taken a heroic stand and the pressure that Minnesota Power is able to exert is tremendous. Douglas County is Minnesota Power's backyard and they wheel a lot of clout (read money).

The County Supervisors could use a note or letter of encouragement from you to help them stand firm. Please write them at: Clerk of Courts, Room 101, 1313 Belknap, Superior WI 54880 or email to ssandvic@douglascountywi.org.

When you write ask that copy of your letter be given to all Douglas County Supervisors. Again, please let our Supervisors know that they do not stand alone and encourage your Counties to do the same.

Also, remember that when this is over, and we have stopped this line, that Douglas County has reserved the VICTORY PARTY be held HERE. Thanks for

 

April 12, 2002


An amendment to the energy bill
-------------------------------------
that could all but eliminate the NEPA process...



Senator Voinovich from Ohio has introduced an amendment to the energy bill that would all but eliminate the NEPA process for power line and pipeline placement and construction. For those that have been working on the issue it is EXTREMELY important that Senators Feingold and Kohl hear from you on this.

To prevent power lines from being strung where ever utilities want them and pipelines buried where energy companies say call:

Russ Feingold at 202-224-5323 or in district at 608-828-1200 Madison, 715-848-5660 Wausau, 608-782-5585 LaCrosse, 414-276-7282 Milwaukee, and 920-465-7508 Green Bay. Heb Kohl at 202-224-5653 or in district 608--264-5338 Madison, 715-832-8424 Eau Claire, 608-796-0045 LaCrosse, 414-297-4451 Milwaukee, and 920-738-1640 in Appleton.

Please do this TODAY.

 

 

May 29, 2002


MG&E executive joins ATC to jump start stalled project
-------------------------------------
Williamson will lobby for planned transmission line



By LEE HAWKINS JR.
of the Journal Sentinel staff
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Business Section
http://www.jsonline.com/bym/news/may02/47100.asp


American Transmission Co. said Wednesday that it has hired a Madison Gas & Electric Co. vice president to jump start its Arrowhead-Weston project - a 210-mile transmission line from Wausau to Duluth, Minn., already under construction but stalled by local opposition. Mark Williamson, who leaves his post as executive vice president of MG&E on Friday, will oversee construction but spend most of his time "lobbying in the broad sense as opposed to the legal sense," he said. Although the Arrowhead-Weston project was approved by the state Public Service Commission last year, it has yet to win the necessary permits from the National Park Service or permission from several North Woods area county boards to move forward. North Woods landowners have offered particularly stiff opposition.

"There will need to be a lot of compromising and coalition-building to get people to come together and get it built. Many people see the need, but they don't like having it near their property," Williamson said. "One of my first goals is to find out who everyone is and where they stand and why, and then start to think through some of that. It's still a people business."

Brookfield-based ATC, which was formed in 2000, is managing Arrowhead-Weston - the nation's first for-profit independent electric transmission company.

Ed Garvey, the lead attorney for Save Our Unique Lands, a group of North Woods landowners that has organized many of the thousands of landowners trying to block Arrowhead-Weston, sees Williamson's hiring as a concession that the project is not a done deal.

Minnesota Power, with headquarters in Duluth, and Wisconsin Public Service Corp. of Green Bay, its building partner, have made little progress since two committees voted in February to deny their request to conduct surveys and soil tests for the 210-mile line on county property. The companies are still trying to resolve the situation in several counties, including Marathon and Douglas.

"What's finally occurring to (ATC) is that when the counties voted against this line, they were serious," Garvey said. "The utilities are so used to bullying people, and they have finally met their match with some of these county boards. It's a recognition that they are in trouble."

Williamson, 48, has been at MG&E for about 16 years, most recently as executive vice president and chief strategic officer. He had once been considered a possible successor to former MG&E chairman David Mebane, but the position ultimately went to Gary Wolter, who oversaw MG&E's finances in the 1990s.

As the driving force behind a grass-roots strategy embraced in the late 1990s by MG&E, Williamson forged working relationships with the influential Customers First! Coalition, a Madison-based group of small utilities, consumer groups and industrial utility customers. With MG&E as a member, Customers First! played a critical role in helping to shape Wisconsin Energy's "Power The Future" plant construction plan, a 10-year project which calls for the utility to build several new power plants.

Williamson, who grew up in Appleton and received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will join ATC on Monday.



Appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on May 30, 2002.

 

For immediate release, July 3, 2002
More information: (608) 251-3322


FEDERAL REVIEW SET FOR ARROWHEAD
-------------------------------------
National Park Service To Study River Crossing



Wisconsin C.U.B. - Press Release
http://www.wiscub.org/pages/arrowheadpress070302.html


The Citizens' Utility Board (CUB) today revealed that the National Park Service (NPS) will do a complete evaluation of the environmental impacts of the Duluth-Wausau (Arrowhead) 345 kV transmission line crossing of the Namekagon River, which is part of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. According to the NPS, the study will likely be completed in the fall of 2003. The review will have to be completed before the NPS determines whether to permit Wisconsin Public Service Corporation (WPS), Minnesota Power (MP), and the American Transmission Company (ATC) to construct the Arrowhead transmission line across the Namekagon River.

CUB hailed the decision as a victory for the integrity of the National Wild and Scenic River System.

"CUB commends the National Park Service for making sure that one of Wisconsin's greatest natural treasures, the Wild and Scenic Namekagon River is adequately protected from unnecessary development," said Steve Hiniker, Executive Director of CUB.

The NPS review will include public meetings and public comments on the potential impacts of the proposed crossing of the Namekagon River approximately 7 miles southwest of Hawyard, Wisconsin. According to utility documents filed with the NPS, the transmission line would be designed and constructed to have a life exceeding 50 years. There is a potential for impact to the water quality and aquatic life of the Namekagon River if there is a leak of a high pressured oil-filled system if the line is tunneled under the river. If the line is built above the river the impact will be from the visual effects of steel transmission poles 135 feet high, 30 feet wide, inside of a 100 foot right of way crossing the river, and the effects of the electromagnetic field generated by the 345 kV line.

"CUB calls on the Public Service Commission (PSC) to do what it should have done three years ago. The PSC should immediately begin an investigation into alternatives that could provide Wisconsin residents with the cost effective electric system reliability that we expect, without endangering our national scenic treasures," said Hiniker.

CUB is currently suing the PSC in Marathon County Circuit Court for issuing WPS, MP, and the ATC a certificate to construct the 210 mile 345 kV transmission line at a cost of $166 Million.

 

August 14, 2002


Wisconsin residents divided over planned power line, survey finds
-------------------------------------



by Steve Kuchera
Duluth News Tribune staff writer


People living in northwestern Wisconsin are evenly divided in supporting or opposing the planned Arrowhead Weston power line.

That's one of the findings of a survey commissioned by the company that would operate the 345-kilovolt transmission line between Hermantown and the Wausau, Wis., area.

The American Transmission Co. is using the survey results in radio commercials that began airing Monday. Those ads are part of a larger campaign to inform people in northern Wisconsin about the need for the line and its impacts.

The ads will cover health and environmental concerns, economic impacts, the need for the line and the decision-making process, and survey results.

"There's an opportunity to give people more information and have them make an informed decision," American Transmission vice president Mark C. Williamson said Tuesday. "There is room on some of the points to find some middle ground."

Williamson has met with public officials and others, including members of the anti-Arrowhead Weston group Save Our Unique Lands, along the line's route several times since joining American Transmission in June.

Before that, he was a vice president with Madison Gas and Electric. Citizens Utility Board executive director Steve Hinkiker worked with Williamson when the board and Madison Gas and Electric jointly opposed efforts to deregulate the electrical industry.

The Citizens Utility Board opposes Arrowhead Weston.

"I will give Mark credit for taking the time to go out and make a legitimate effort to get things back on a more even keel," Hinkiker said. "He brings a breath of fresh air to the project. I think he's going to be more upfront than some of the other people have been.

"On the other hand, they still seem to be doing this backward," he said. "Project supporters got the line approved and are now going out trying to get public acceptance."

Last August, the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin unanimously approved the project, which was first proposed by Minnesota Power and the Wisconsin Public Service Corp. in 1999.

Project supporters say the line is needed to help Wisconsin meet its growing demand for electricity and to improve the reliability of its transmission system. Project opponents worry about the line's potential impacts on the environment, health and property values.

According to the survey, 47 percent of respondents think they need the new line. The same percentage think they don't.

Many of the people in both camps don't hold strong opinions, Williamson said.

"These people can be moved one way or another with facts and good information," he said.

Tom Kreager, president of Save Our Unique Lands, questions the survey's findings.

"Well, that's their numbers," he said. "Based upon my experience with the people I've talked to in the last three years, I'd say it's closer to a 50-to-1 split, where we have one in favor and 50 against."

The survey was done in April. A total of 882 telephone interviews were done in seven counties (Clark, Douglas, Marathon, Rusk, Sawyer, Taylor and Washburn) the line would cross. The survey has a sampling error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.

Among the survey's other key findings:

  • 41 percent of respondents agreed the community would face serious energy shortages if new power lines aren't built, while 47 percent disagreed.

  • 46 percent of respondents agreed Arrowhead Weston will produce economic benefits.

One economic benefit many people aren't aware of are the environmental impact fees the utilities would pay. The first is a one-time fee equaling 5 percent of the line's costs. The second is an annual fee equaling 0.3 percent of the line's cost.

Estimated construction costs for Arrowhead Weston run upwards of $215 million. At that figure, the one-time fee would raise $10.75 million. The annual fee would raise $645,000. The money would go to the counties, towns, villages and cities impacted by the line.

However, Douglas County Board supervisor and Save Our Unique Lands member Mark Liebaert wonders how long local governments would actually receive the money.

"With the current (state) budget problems in Wisconsin, do you think that will stay in there?" he said.

It will likely be winter 2003-04 before construction begins on the line, Williamson said. It could be operating by summer 2006.

 

Cost estimate soars for power line
-------------------------------------

 

November 11, 2002
Richard W. Jaeger
Wisconsin State Journal
http://www.madison.com/wisconsinstatejournal/local/36579.php

A proposed 210-mile electric transmission line from Wausau to Duluth, Minn., will cost an additional $231 million - more than doubling the first projection - its developer announced Monday.

American Transmission Co. of Waukesha blames the increase to $396 million in the project's cost on the new state environmental impact law fee and on higher material and labor costs it claims it will face because of a two-year delay in the project. The company initially projected the cost at $165 million.

It said it will ask the Public Service Commission to pass the increases on to consumers. The company estimated the increase would boost the cost of transmission by 29 cents a month over its initial estimate for residential customers. Overall, an average customer with a $50 monthly bill would pay 50 cents more a month for the transmission line. Businesses with a $50,000 electric bill would pay an additional $500.

The Wisconsin portion of the project, known as the Arrowhead-Weston transmission line, will cost $349 million and must be approved by the PSC. The PSC will hold public hearings and take testimony on the requested increases. No hearing dates have been set. The transmission company said it will also hold informational meetings in the communities along the corridor of the line.

Steve Hiniker, executive director of the Citizens Utility Board, said the PSC should "start over from ground zero. Because the cost of this project is now more than double in less than a year, it calls into question the PSC's approval. It shows that review was obviously inadequate and a rubber-stamp of what ATC proposed. I believe we also need a comprehensive review of the alternatives in the process to see if they would be more cost effective."

The PSC approved the controversial 345-kilovolt power line in 2001, after years of protests by environmental groups and several lawsuits to stop it. Construction is projected to begin in 2007.

"A number of issues have increased the cost of the project," said Mark Williamson, American Transmission Co. vice president. "Clearly the two-year delay is a factor. Additionally, the revised estimate is based on the selection of a final route and hard engineering of what will be required to build the line on the route selected by the Public Service Commission.

"In comparing today's costs with the original estimate, the cost increased by $80 million. There's also an additional $67 million, which was not included in the original estimate. That cost covers improved farm disease prevention, environmental impact fees, wetlands preservation techniques, the development and implementation of the Construction Mitigation Plan, as well as project licensing fees," Williamson said.

Charles Gonzales, the company's political liaison, said the increase also includes an additional $37 million in the cost of money for financing the project during construction. That cost was not included in the initial project estimate.

He noted that the initial estimate also did not include the $16.5 million environmental impact fee required by a new state law. "This will be the first time that fee will be collected in Wisconsin. All those funds go back to the local government," Gonzales said.

Nino Amato, executive director of the Energy Lifeline Coalition of Wisconsin said his organization is concerned about the projected costs and will closely examine them.

"Wisconsin must improve its transmission system, but the question becomes, at what cost? Once we receive all the available information that is driving these costs, we will meet with our members to scrutinize them and determine whether or not they are justifiable."

David Benforado, executive director of Municipal Electric Utilities of Wisconsin, added: "Making the needed improvements to Wisconsin's system is going to come at a cost for all energy consumers. We want to be assured that those costs are appropriate and reasonable. We will continue to look for the best available means to meet Wisconsin's transmission needs."

 

ALERT: Write NPS on transmission line by Wednesday!
-------------------------------------

 

We here at SOUL wanted to let everyone know about what is happening with "Wisconsin's most unpopular transmission line" and the Lac Courte Oreilles Chippewa tribe.

LCO needs to have people write to the National Parks Service (whose address is listed below) and demand that the NPS honor LCO's requests for proper protocol to be met on a "government to government" basis. A simple letter from each group member and a formal letter will help. The more the merrier.

We will notify you when our rallies, demonstrations and river flotilla will be. Additionally we will notify you of other ways that we may work together over the course of many months this newest action will take. Thank you most sincerely for all your help.


Sandy Lyon, for Save Our Unique Lands (SOUL) http://www.wakeupwisconsin.com


From the end of the article below:

The power line EIS time-table calls for the National Park Service (NPS) to issue a draft document next March, followed by a 60-day public review period including a public meeting to address comments. The final EIS is scheduled to be issued in August.

The Park Service is soliciting more public scoping comments, with a deadline of Wednesday, Nov. 20 (postmark or e-mail deadline).

The mailing address is Superintendent, St. Croix National Scenic Riverway,
Attn. Jill Medland, P.O. Box 708, St. Croix Falls, WI 54024.
The e-mail address is sacn__aw__row__eis@nps.gov


Power line crossing Namekagon River is opposed
Citizens speak out



Terrell Boettcher
Sawyer County Record
November 14th, 2002


Several dozen people expressed their opposition and concerns at a National Park Service (NPS) public open house in Hayward on Nov. 6 over the proposed crossing of the Namekagon River 10 miles south of Hayward by the 345,000-volt Arrowhead to Weston electric transmission line.

Minnesota Power Company and Wisconsin Public Service Corporation (WPSC) have applied to the Park Service for a right-of-way permit to cross the Namekagon-St. Croix National Scenic Riverway with the line, about halfway between Stinnett Landing and Groat Landing.

About 4,500 feet of the new line would be within the riverway boundaries. The companies propose to cross the river along and adjacent to an existing 100-foot-wide easement for a 161-kilovolt transmission line, which was granted to Xcel Energy by private landowners prior to NPS land acquisition in that area. The power line also would follow the corridor occupied by an underground oil pipeline.

An additional 10 to 55 feet of right of way would be required depending on the alternative chosen.

The NPS and the power companies have identified six preliminary alternatives for the proposed crossings. They are:

1) Double-circuit the proposed 345-KV line with the existing 161-KV line, which would be carried on single-shaft steel poles averaging 130 feet high (three poles would be placed on the existing pole locations in the riverway corridor). There would be six more lines than now. This is the applicants� preferred alternative.

2) Double-circuit the 345-KV and 161-KV lines overhead on H-frame poles 120 feet tall.

3) Place the existing 161-KV line underground and the proposed 345-KV line overhead. Underground transmission would involve the construction of a north and a south transition stations, to make the switch-over from overhead to underground cables. Each station would be at least 600 feet from the river. A gravel access road would be constructed to each station.

4) Place the proposed 345-KV line underground and leave the 161-KV line overhead. The transmission cables would be encased, surrounded with hydrocarbon fluid, and go underneath the river in three borings.

5) Place both the existing line and the proposed line underground.

6) Deny the right-of-way request.

The NPS can issue a permit outright, issue a permit with mitigation conditions, or deny a permit.

Jill Medland, environmental compliance specialist for the riverway, said the companies must obtain right of way permission from the NPS prior to any construction within the riverway boundary. The Park Service is in the process of preparing an environmental impact statement (EIS) with input from the public and with the cooperation of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The National Wild and Scenic River Act�s purpose was to protect the river�s free-flowing character, its water quality, and its outstanding natural, scenic, aesthetic, cultural and recreational values.

The Act �does allow authority for granting rights of way over the rivers, provided it can be done in a manner consistent with� enhancing and protecting the value of the riverway, Medland said.

�There�s no easy answer to that question� of whether this can be done, she added. �Inconsistent� with riverway

Ward Winton of Hayward said the proposed crossing �is inconsistent with the purposes for which the scenic riverway was set up.

�Also, it violates the concept of the scenic easements that were imposed upon (private) lands adjoining the lands acquired by the government in fee title,� Winton added. �The easements limited the landowners� right to use their lands.� On land owned by Winton�s grandfather immediately adjacent to the proposed power line crossing, the easement �states that the land shall not be used for public utility purposes or for any industrial or commercial activities.�

These �broad-brush restrictions� are in keeping with the purposes of the Scenic Riverway Act, to �preserve the lands or to restore them to the more-or-less pristine state that existed prior to the coming of the pioneer?-to the extent that we can maintain them,� Winton said.

�If private landowners can�t use it for utility purposes, should the NPS be authorizing someone else to do that? What�s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander,� Winton added.

Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board member Mic Isham said the Park Service needs to talk with the tribe on a government-to-government basis about �the federal permitting and subsequent construction of still another utility conduit across portions of the state that the Ojibwe people consider their traditional home and a primary resource area. It represents a very serious concern of ours, and perhaps all the Lake Superior Bands.�

LCO tribal historic preservation officer Brian Bisonette said the EIS needs to consider the potential adverse impacts of the entire 220-mile line on the Indian tribes� religious, ceremonial or traditional cultural properties.

�We have identified the project area as the entire route of the transmission line, including land and resources that will be affected in Minnesota and Canada,� Bisonette said. He noted that the LCO Band and the Pimicikamak Cree of Cross Lake, Manitoba, recently signed a resolution �vehemently opposing the Arrowhead to Weston line because of environmental concerns.�

The Great Lakes Intertribal Council, representing 11 tribes in Wisconsin, will be asked to sign a similar resolution, Bisonette added.

Dr. Harry Malcolm, who lives on Beaver Lake 1,000 to 1,500 feet from the proposed 345-KV line and south of the Namekagon River, said he has �a lot of concerns for the safety of my kids, my neighbors and their kids,� based on European scientific studies on the possible effects of electromagnetic fields (EMF) on people�s health, especially children.

Malcolm said he also has concerns about the line�s effect on birds and wildlife. Unlike the present 161-KV line�s towers, the 345-KV line�s towers would extend above the tree line, increasing the risk for birds to collide with it, he said.

Each 10-ton tower would require a 35-foot-deep cement footing in marshy areas, and he is concerned about their effect on groundwater and the 16-foot-deep lake, Malcolm added.

�This thing will be visible from a lot of areas; it has the potential to be noisy,� Malcolm added. �When I left the military and moved my family to this nice, quiet rural area, and then all of a sudden to have this line come through is quite a shock to me.�

Many neighbors also are upset about incurring substantial losses to their property values without being able to do anything about it from the highly-visible and audible line, Malcolm said. The line is reported to be merely a conduit through this area to provide high-profit electricity from Canada to large urban areas in southern Wisconsin and Illinois, Malcolm added.

Other commenters worried about the possible effects of placing a 345-KV line next to an oil pipeline, and the effects of EMF on plants, wildlife, and fish migrations in the river. There is an osprey nest atop an existing power pole on the north side of the river.

In a recent interview with the Superior Radio Network, former Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson said �I think this is a rare, natural river, and there should be no structures crossing it unless there�s some parts of the St. Croix where it�s necessary to have a bridge across.

�But I wouldn�t put any high powerline across the Namekagon,� Nelson said. �It would destroy the scenic beauty and it�s not necessary. They should put it in places where there�s already a corridor that can be used.�

Nelson, 86, now a counselor for the Wilderness Society in Washington D.C., authored the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act in 1968. The Namekagon-St. Croix was the first river east of the Mississippi to be included.

The power line EIS time-table calls for the Park Service to issue a draft document next March, followed by a 60-day public review period including a public meeting to address comments. The final EIS is scheduled to be issued in August.

The Park Service is soliciting more public scoping comments, with a deadline of Nov. 20 (postmark or e-mail deadline).

The mailing address is Superintendent, St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, Attn. Jill Medland, P.O. Box 708, St. Croix Falls, WI 54024.

The e-mail address is sacn__aw__row__eis@nps.gov.

 

 

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Language in the "Notice of Request for Comments", mailed from the Public Service Commission December 17, 2002 states:

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(pp. 3) "Any party who desires to file comments should submit an original and ten copies, as indicated on page one. Members of the public need only file an original.

This comment period on this re-opened controversial project would go unnoticed by the public without announcements such as your media resources response could bring. We thank you in advance for letting the public know that they still have a voice in this project, a voice that will be heard by a new Public Service Commission Chairperson.

If you have any questions please contact:

Tom Kreager---715-693-3143
Linda Ceylor----715-474-2271
Jim Lipinski-----608-266-0478

 

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Background on proposed MN-WI transmission lines
Transmission line - Updates: 2003, 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
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