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September 26, 2021

8/25/2021 2:20:00 PM
Commissioners will wait to consider reissue of ATC permit

Owners of the Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line did not get what they asked for last Thursday, instead being forced to wait until court action August 5.
The August 5 court hearing will determine if a request by the utility to put legal proceedings on hold is approved.
The utility's request to rescind a previous approval and reapprove a new one was denied but the door is open for future consideration. The request to rescind was made when it was discovered a former member of the Public Service Commission may have had inappropriate communications about the request for a permit with utility executives. That commissioner, Mike Huebsch, has denied any wrong doing and the other two commissioners, Ellen Nowak and PSC chairman Rebecca Valcq say they believe him.
Huebsch has since left the commission and has been replaced by Tyler Huebner. He recused himself from the proceedings, citing prior involvement in the case.
Nowak said she favored a quick re-vote to expedite construction. Valcq disagreed saying there was nothing wrong with the original permit, choosing to stand by her decision.
The 102 mile project which will put a transmission line from Dubuque to Middleton, has already spent $126.4 million to import electricity from Iowa. The utilities say the project is critical to ensuring Wisconsin can transition to a cleaner, more reliable and more affordable energy future. They claim legal challenges could delay thousands of megawatts of new clean energy projects and put constraints on existing generators.
Commissioners with the PSC said they are not in favor of revisiting arguments for and against the line. Opponents disagree, feeling a fresh review is needed.
Howard Learner, lead attorney for the environmental groups opposing the project says data used to justify the project does not conform to today's reality.
"The commission cannot issue a new order relying on outdated information. That would violate core legal principles and commons sense," Learner said.
The courts have asked for Huebsch to hand over his phone recoreds but he has refused, saying he only used the app in question to communicate with friends about sports, health and family.
"I have never had an ex-parte communication with anyone, ever," Huebsch said.

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