September 18, 2023 at 11:10 a.m.

Industrialization Is Destroying Southwest Wisconsin 7/30/2023

Dear Editor,

The answer to why population growth is flat or negative in Grant and Lafayette counties (“Rural Counties Growing but not Grant and Lafayette” by Joe Hart, Platteville Journal, July 26 2023) can be observed by looking to the south and west from Montfort, Wisconsin.  The beautiful southwest Wisconsin (SWW) driftless area is slowly being transformed into an ugly, repulsive, industrialized energy and electrical transmission /substation complex because of the industrial wind and solar projects and the Cardinal Hickory Creek (CHC) high steel-tower transmission lines. Iowa County is suffering from this mess as well. 

The population is not growing in our area because people do not want to live around the almost 700-foot-high industrial wind turbines (IWT) with the associated annoying shadow flicker; health-damaging infra sound; ultrabright, flashing-in-the-night red lights; and a viewshed that is violated during the day and night. There is also the danger of blade and ice throws; toxic chemicals leaching into the air and soil, contamination of the drinking water; hydraulic fluid leaks; dangerous fires (at 600 feet from the ground); and interference with Med Flight helicopters, crop dusting planes, and communications.

The sons and daughters of area farmers do not want to take over the family farms. They do not want to live in this area, build new homes, and raise families in this unhealthy environment. This is a tragedy because their parents and grandparents have worked hard all their lives to build these family farms.

Tourism has and will suffer. Who wants to visit, recreate, or even drive through this industrial maze? I will be limiting my drives to Madison to avoid the cumulative harmful effects of the CHC transmission lines. 

Industry of all types will avoid SWW. Land prices will fall, along with the price of new home lots and existing houses. Developers are building new houses as fast as possible to sell them to unsuspecting buyers. 

All of this will lead to a continued loss of population and with it less need for schools and churches, as well as fire and medical services.

The big question is why is this happening and who is to blame? 

Part of the blame for this mess in southwest Wisconsin is due to the political, corrupt Public Service Commission (PSC). All three of the politically appointed PSC members have energy industry backgrounds and biases.  They rubber stamp any energy project that helps their elite “rich men” friends. The PSC doesn’t give a damn about our health or safety.  

One PSC commissioner, Ellen Nowac, who approved the unneeded, uneconomical, Cardinal Hickory Creek transmission line, was recently given a high-paying job as a vice president with American Transmission Company (owner of the CHC line) as a reward for her compliance to their wishes. She overruled unanimous opposition to the CHC project by the citizens as well as the recommendations of the PSC engineers and economists. This is corruption and needs to be criminally prosecuted.

Most of the blame for this denigration of SWW lies directly on past legislators who gave away control of our land to three unelected political Public Service commissioners. They effectively turned Wisconsin into a sucker state for green new deal fantasies. However, the blame also goes to our current legislators who have not taken any decisive action to prevent the health, safety, economic, and social disasters from developing in SW Wisconsin as a result of the industrial wind and solar installations. Our lawmakers should generate legislation to immediately stop construction of all solar and wind projects in Wisconsin until power to control these projects is given back to local townships and counties. We the people, “small town” folks, don’t want any more lame excuses from our lethargic legislators who don’t act on these matters. They say that the governor will veto such legislation. Just pass the legislation and override the veto! It is the job of our elected legislators to protect us; and if they are not competent enough to do their job, they should quit and go back to farming or anticipate getting voted out of office in the next election.

A few good people have been working hard, some for many years, to save SWW by educating folks about the IWT debacle. Townships are now taking steps to protect the health and safety of their residents. Township boards are busy enough with their budgets and other township responsibilities but now must do the job of our elected, asleep-at-the-switch legislators as well. 

Immediate action is needed. Ask your local town board how you can help. If new IWTs can be stopped and existing IWTs deconstructed [to prevent the health, safety, social, economic, and environmental disaster], perhaps southwest Wisconsin can continue to grow and prosper.

George Schwarzmann Jr.,

Belmont, Wisconsin