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State regulators approve construction of Cardinal-Hickory Creek power line

The plans set the short-term goals for under-grounding power lines and reducing outages during storms, but the power companies will soon be required to take a long-term view of storm hardening. (Pixabay)
The plans set the short-term goals for under-grounding power lines and reducing outages during storms, but the power companies will soon be required to take a long-term view of storm hardening. (Pixabay)(WJHG)
Published: Aug. 20, 2019 at 3:34 PM CDT
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State regulators have approved a contentious power line project in southwestern Wisconsin.

The Public Service Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to approve construction of the Cardinal-Hickory Creek line between Dubuque, Iowa, and Middleton.

Matt Sweeney, spokesperson for the Public Service Commission, says the line will offer a range of benefits for the state.

"Bringing in less expensive energy from the west, which will primarily be wind power and bringing that into the state, allowing utilities here to retire their more costly coal plants and work towards reducing carbon emissions in the state," Sweeney said.

The project is expected to cost approximately $492 million. Costs will be passed on to ratepayers in 12 states, with about $67 million falling to Wisconsin.

Conservation groups, the Citizens Utility Board, Dane and Iowa counties and local governments have lined up to oppose the project, saying it will deliver little renewable energy, damage conservation areas and result in minimal ratepayer savings.

"We are extremely disappointed, and I guess it wasn't shocking," said Chuck Tennessen, the community organizer for the Driftless Area Land Conservancy. "We would rather see that money being spent here, in providing jobs and 100 percent clean energy right within our state."

The project still needs approval from the Iowa Utilities Board and federal regulators to cross the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge.

In a release, State Sen. Jon Erpenbach said:

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