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Wisconsin State Journal Editorial: Power line plan should go forward

State Regulators Were Right To Reject A Request For Yet Another Study Of The Need For A High-voltage Power Line Around Madison.

If Dane County is to continue to enjoy a reliable supply of electricity, the area’s network of power lines needs a major upgrade.

However, because almost no one wants to live next to a high-voltage power line, there is a risk that “not in my backyard” opposition could foil the common interest in new power lines.

That is why state regulators deserve support for refusing to cave in to demands from power line opponents for a new study of whether a high-voltage line is needed around Madison.

Regulators already have the tools to make an independent evaluation of plans to construct a power line. They are also fully capable of exploring alternatives.

A new study would have been an unwarranted cost.

The process for evaluating whether and where to build the line should now proceed with the public’s confidence that it will be thorough, fair and open to public input.

At stake is a plan by American Transmission Co. to build a 345-kilovolt power line 55 miles around Madison, between a substation at Rockdale, southeast of Madison, and a substation just west of Middleton.

ATC expects to submit the plan for review by regulators at the state Public Service Commission in October. ATC wants the line in operation by 2013.

As the plan percolates through its development, here are three points to bear in mind.

1.The need for the power line is supported by a $154,000 study that evaluated growing demand, conservation strategies and other factors.

There is no reason to be suspicious of the study. Five environmental and consumer groups, including the Citizens Utility Board, participated, along with ATC and three utilities.

The PSC will analyze the study to determine if its conclusion is warranted, or if new information makes it out of date.

2.The route the power line will take remains under consideration.

ATC plans to submit two options to the PSC. The company is now studying the possibility, in one of the options, of burying the line along Madison’s Beltline to meet objections about an above-ground line, particularly near the Arboretum.

The line’s location is a sensitive topic, but just saying no is not an option. The line must go somewhere.

3.Complaints that a new high-voltage line will contribute to global warming are misplaced.

What matters to global warming is how electricity is generated. Coal-fired power plants, with current technology, contribute to global warming. Cleaner power, like wind-generated electricity, does not.

Power lines can carry clean power. If Wisconsin is to take advantage of wind-generated electricity from Iowa and Minnesota, new power lines are essential.

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ATC is a Wisconsin-based company that moves energy along the regional electric grid in parts of Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and Illinois, serving more than 5 million electric consumers. We are experts at what we do: planning, maintaining, operating and protecting the grid. As the electric industry moves toward renewable generation sources, we are transforming our system to continue delivering energy reliably and safely. We proudly support STEM education programs that empower youth with the skills needed to succeed in tomorrow’s energy workforce. For more information, visit and follow us on LinkedIn and X (Twitter).