A transmission-line company working to bring more high-voltage lines to Madison, Wisconsin, promises to deliver renewable energy from the West. Critics, however, are questioning the logic of building a 150-mile power line for electricity that could be generated closer to home. American Transmission Co. says ratepayers would only see a 1% increase in their bills for the project proposed to cost $425 million.
“Madison is not the final destination, but rather a point at which we can reinforce the transmission system where it is already built up, to a connection in La Crosse where there is a gap in that southwestern region,” says American Transmission Co.’s Sarah Justus.
ATC spokespeople want to transform the energy landscape, saying more tall towers offset the need for lower-voltage upgrades while bringing in lower-cost wind energy from the west. Of course, there are skeptics.
Renewable-energy advocates say that if being green is what ATC is going for, they don’t need to leave the state to accomplish their mission. “We send millions out of state to supply our energy needs when we buy coal and gas,” said one line proponent.
ATC officials say they want to hear of such concerns to improve their plan. Opinions such the last will help flesh out the transmission plan. “We are early on in this project,” says Justus.
Preliminary routes for the line are being proposed this summer. ATC won’t file its application with the Public Service Commission until 2013. A company goal is to have the line in service by 2018.
American Transmission Co.
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