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August 24, 2019

7/22/2019 1:03:00 PM
Transmission lines not wanted or needed, opponents say

In the movie "Field of Dreams" one of the favorite quotes is "If you build it, he will come."
At Thursday's Public Service Commission hearings at the Dodger Bowl a similar message was delivered to the commissioners.
"If you build it, No One will come."
That is the what the 200 or so people attending the hearing want the commission to consider when they vote in September to go ahead with or half the Cardinal-Hickory Creek 345 kV transmission line that would run from Dubuque to Madison, cutting through this area in southwest Wisconsin.
More specifically the project is a joint venture of ATC, ITC Midwest and Dairyland Power Cooperative, the line would run through more than 100 miles of the Driftless area between Dubuque and Middleton. The costs would be shared by ratepayers in 12 states, with about $67 million falling to Wisconsin.
The utilities behind the project and some environmental groups said the line would deliver cheap, clean wind energy from Iowa, saving ratepayers money. Opponents question the public value, saying it would enable little new renewable energy, damage important conservation areas and result in minimal ratepayer savings.
It's up to the PSC to determine if the project is in the public interest and if so which route it should follow. The Commission has until Sept. 30 to approve or deny the application. Regulators in Iowa are expected to decide in December on the 15-mile section west of the Mississippi River.
Reasons those who testified at hearings held in Madison, Lancaster and Dodgeville give for stopping the line range from asthenics to financial to safety to both humans and wildlife.
Those who those who testify say won't come (to follow the above saying) are the tourists who frequent the area to take in the beauty of the driftless region. One who testified said the economics of the area are equally important when it comes to both tourism and agriculture.
Along with that is a feared drop in land value as many testified no one will want to purchase property, both rural and residential, with an ugly transmission tower located on or near it.
However, one person who travels though both Iowa and Wisconsin said he has seen some towers that actually look good.
"But the ones proposed here will not," he said.
Jean Leucke, a long time Dodgeville resident, said she is here because this is where she chooses to live.
"I enjoy the sunny skies, the wild flowers and even the glistening snow, she said. "I enjoy the beauty."
She added that if the CHC project goes through this will change.
"It will not be pretty," she said. "The beauty will be marred. I couldn't bear looking at that the rest of my life and I plan to life that here. I am sure there are thousands of area residents out there that feel the same way."
She added that those against the project feel the pain felt by the farmers.
"PSC....please say no to ATC and protect the only driftless area in the world," she concluded.
Eunice Jewell told the PSC hearing judge she has lived in Iowa County for nine decades and is a sixth generation family.
"I heard my father talk to an Indian friend who talked about how the government took their land. I heard about the fascists taking land in Europe. What is happening here is similar," she said.
"They are building without carrying what it does to our community," she said about the project.
"PSC...stop taking our homes, property by utilities," she said. "Stop taking our heritage."
There were several who testified about the damage and death that will be sustained by the towers.
"There are estimates that at least 20,000 birds will die because of the towers," one person said, adding "this is a boondoggle. Wisconsin does not deserve the damage caused by this."
"CHC is not returning power. It is returning money to ATC's pockets."
Caroline Beckett has lived in the area since 1992 and also addressed the threat to wildlife the project will cause. She said there are more and better options than what the ATC is proposing.
"This project is a dinosaur," she said. "It is time for this to go extinct."
Hope Connolley, a freshman this past year at Iowa-Grant said she will be less motivated to come back to this area after college if the project is built and the land damaged.
"Please protect my habitat," she said.
Another person said she was planning to hike Governor Dodge because she is afraid with projects like this what we value in nature will not always be here.
"You have the moral responsibility to protect and serve the public," she told the commissioners.
"The public is us."
Another person testifying said he read a story in the Wall Street Journal that some projects in the United States follow the abandoned railroad lines and are underground.
"Underground utilities," he said. "That's the future."
He added that he is pessimistic about the project being turned down.
"I think this will get the go-ahead no matter what we say," he said.
One of the leading opponents of the project are the Driftless Defenders and its history of being started to fight the transmissions lines was given by two of the testifiers.
"It started with eight people meeting in a barn," one woman said. "We have put a lot of energy, time and money into this.
"Reject, require upgrades and make it non-wire," she added.
Another person from rural Barneveld told the PSC that locally sourced energy is a cheaper option.
Betsy D'Angelo, one of the Driftless Defenders founders, said the group came about for the greater public good.
"It has not been proven this project is for the greater public good," she said. "It will tear up 100 miles of our land."
She added the group wants to protect the land for future generations.
"No price can be put on our beautiful scenery," she said. "Putting the transmission lines here negates that."
She continued by saying there is enormous opposition to this project.
"What you see here is the tip of the iceberg," said D'Angelo. "My land is near and dear to me and I know now why people lay down in front of a bulldozer. We don't want or need those ugly towers and buzzing transmission lines."
"Three ice ages couldn't touch what the ATC wants to destroy now."

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