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September 21, 2019

8/26/2019 11:12:00 AM
CHC approval affects decisions by Iowa County Board

The Iowa County board learned Tuesday night that the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin voted unanimously to preliminarily approve the proposed Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line project.
The announcement prompted supervisor Justin O'Brien to inform the board an appeal is already being crafted in opposition.
According to a release from the PSC its chairperson, Rebecca Cameron Valcq is quoted as saying:
"Transmission is the backbone of clean energy alternatives to fossil fuel. Getting low-cost, clean energy from where it is plentiful in the west to where it is needed, and at the scale that it is needed, cannot be done without building transmission infrastructure. I support this project because I firmly believe that it will provide tangible economic and reliability benefits to Wisconsin customers, and will serve as the cornerstone to achieving a zero carbon future."
The PSC feels in addition to reduced congestion charges that will ultimately benefit consumers in the form of lower rates, the project will improve transmission system reliability, increase transfer capability between Wisconsin and the west, and will help to reduce carbon emissions by supporting the interconnection of up to 8.4 gigawatts of new generation; the majority of which will be wind power.
The transmission line will run about 87 miles from northeastern Iowa and into Southern Wisconsin. The estimated cost of the project is approximately $492 million. Wisconsin's portion is estimated to be approximately $67 million. The remainder will be paid by ratepayers in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) member states.
The Cardinal-Hickory Creek Transmission Line Project is a proposed 345 kilovolt electrical transmission line that is to run from the Hickory Creek substation in Dubuque County, Iowa, to the Cardinal substation in Dane County, Wisconsin. The project is a joint proposal between the applicants, American Transmission Company, ITC Midwest LLC, and Dairyland Power Cooperative. According to the applicants, construction is expected to commence in October of 2020 with the line coming into service by December 2023.
The Commission held six public hearings in the project area, as well as a week of technical hearings for all of the parties in the case.
The PSC's decision played a role later in Tuesday's meeting when the supervisors approved a resolution they hope will help highway funding in the future. They voted to approve an amendment which changes the fact the PSC "is considering" to the PSC "has" approved the high voltage power line. That became important because the resolution specifies that 80% of all new utility revenue be directed to road reconstruction until 2025.
The CHC line may be tied up in court which could impact payment but the solar farm in western Iowa County is included in the resolution also. Funds from the solar project should come into the county in 2022.
Some highway funds are being shifted to help build the new law enforcement center and combined nursing home with this resolution designed to put road construction back on track.
Building the new law enforcement center and nursing home is impacting the 2020 budget process, according to supervisor James Griffiths.
"We have been working on the budget and are hesitant to put much into improvements for those two existing facilities (jail and Bloomfield Manor) if they are going to be replaced," he said. "I caution you that there could be problems which need addressing in the meantime."
The board heard a report from county administrator Larry Bierke on the 100 page report they all received concerning a non-profit status for Scenic Hills, the corporation that will put Bloomfield Manor and UHH nursing home facilities together. Supervisors felt there were too many questions to approve the application and set it over for September 17. Supervisors were informed the UHH attorney has been used to creat the document and asked Bierke to have the county attorney look it over before any action is taken.
Supervisor Curt Peterson told the board the law enforcement center committee has taken the "show on the road" and given presentations at the Cobb Corn Boil, in Highland and to the Mineral Point Kiwanis. He added they will be hitting the townships soon.
Supervisor Dan Nankee told the board that Ruth Schriefer from Iowa County Extension has been appointed academic chairperson of UW-Extension faculty.
Supervisor Bruce Paull told the board that the next day is National Senior Citizen Day and that healthy aging has been the focus of the health department.
Supervisor Richard Rolfsmeyer reminded the board the Iowa County Fair is approaching and has been operated strictly with volunteers since 1851. He thanked the supervisors, staff and community for the support.
Tom Slaney from the Department of Social Services presented the supervisors with the annual DSS/ADRC report, asking them to look it over and contact him with questions.
The board also received the Forward Analytics report from the Wisconsin Counties Association.
A group of women who ride the ADRC bus issued their dissatisfaction with the present arrangement. Margaret Peat said the large bus no longer is safe to run and the small bus does not meet the needs of the passengers.
"Many of us have walkers and if you put a couple walkers in the bus there is no room for our feet," she said. "If we go shopping there is no room for our purchases either."
"The big bus was good," she added. "If something is working don't you want to make it better?"
Nancy Tews addressed the board and asked them to be sure of what they want when they consider the new law enforcement center, adding she is concerned with the cost.
"Have a goal and be clear what it is," she told the supervisors.
UW-Extension agent Barry Hottmann invited the board to the 20th anniversary dinner and program of the Community Leadership Alliance. He said Paul Ohlrogge, the Iowa County UW-Ext department head, helped start the program. Craig Culver who co-founded the popular restaurant chain, will be the guest speaker.
Supervisor Mark Storli informed the board that the 2020 census may be done online. He also said the long range plan includes reducing the size of the board and redistricting the county.
Steve Genoway, Beth Mikrut-Gilles, John and Jessica Fick and Barry Hottmann gave a report on the recent Dodgeville Pop-Up Park that was partially funded by a structure grant from the county. The report was a requirement for receiving the grant which was $5000.
The project was a complete success and plans are to continue it next year. A survey was taken and with seven the best, the project received a 6.8 and a 6.7 on the two questions about satisfaction that were asked.
Also, much of the fixtures needed for the event have been purchased which will help get it started for next year.
In other business the board approved three zoning requests. They were:
-three plots in the town of Arena for Brian and Jodi Gruber which will be changes to AR-1 agricultural residential and AC-1, agricultural conservancy.
-3.41 acres in the Town of Brigham from AR-1 ag residential to A-1 agricultural for John Bauman.
-two plots in the Town of Wyoming to A-1, ag residential for Scott and Vicky Jacobs.
Also approved was the appointment of Larry Nelson to the Iowa County Library Board.
The board also waived a sign permit fee for signage identifying the Bloomfield Prairie. The request was made by the Iowa County Recreation Prairie Restoration Group.
A brief discussion took place on the status of the county's vacant corporation counsel position. Interim board chair Ron Benish promised a report at the September meeting.
The board also approved an option for closing out the CDBG grants as the state is ending them. The option approved has the county buying out the grant amounts and receiving the payments. There are two in use in the county, one by a day care operation in Highland and another by the Iowa County Humane Society. Bierke told the board both are current with their payments.

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