Citizens and Local Governments Request Full Party Status in Transmission Case In Record Numbers

When Kerry Beheler of Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, became aware of the significant habitat impacts of the proposed Cardinal-Hickory Creek high voltage transmission line in the Driftless Area, she began to educate herself. The decision came down to her daily life,“Many of the natural places where I conduct bird surveys, teach environmental education, work to restore native habitat, and where our community members enjoy the peace of natural surroundings, would be ravaged by 170 foot high towers and massive cables. I decided to use my voice to protect the plants, animals, birds, and butterflies who share the unique Driftless region.”

Using her voice meant petitioning to act as a full party before the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin as a Public Intervenor as the state agency considers either building a 100-120 mile long high-capacity expansion transmission line or following the path of nine other states and choosing Non-Transmission Alternatives, instead.

“I definitely know what inspired me,” says Gloria Belken of tiny Montfort, Wisconsin, targeted to hold an 80 acre, city-scaled, substation she fears would attract more unnecessary lines in the near future. “Flat and dropping energy use is causing utility commissioners in other states to decide that new customer dollars should go toward guaranteed savings and CO2 reductions from conservation, energy efficiency and developing local renewable energy instead of unaccountable utility expansion. Why should Wisconsin electric customers and businesses be treated any less respectfully?”

After the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) ruled the transmission builders’ application for the Cardinal Hickory Creek proposal complete earlier this month, more than 80 private citizens, eight municipal governments, and one county board opted to use their statutory rights and request to formally intervene as “a person whose substantial interests may be affected by the WI PSC’s action or inaction in a proceeding…”

“I’m not sure how much money we’ll be able to garner against the millions utility law firms will spend defending their 700 page application,” says Jim Schmitz, Montfort Village President, ”but we need to ask tough questions and defend our tradition of right-sizing our energy needs, stressing local energy responsibilities, and not bowing to what appears to be a massive utility take-over.”

Placing similar value in local self-sufficiency are ten Amish households who have also chosen to intervene and stringently oppose extremely high voltages cutting across the heart of their community stirring exodus and demise. “We’ll be in Madison when it is time to stand before the Administrative Law Judge and claim our rights” announced Bishop Eli Stoltzfus at a special meeting outside of Platteville, Wisconsin.

Each of the individual public intervenors will be representing their own interests and taking on many hours helping other community leaders and neighbors navigate documents and participate in the agency’s complex review process.

 

 

 

Photo Description: Forty-four of the ninety individuals and municipal governments electing to represent their substantial interests as Public Intervenors in the Cardinal Hickory Creek transmission line proposal before the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin over the next year. Some intervenors are holding name tags for individuals unable to attend an information meeting at the Platteville Library on September 11, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

Over the past ten years the PSC has approved seven expansion transmission lines but none have been tested to determine if they have actually delivered the savings or C02 reductions transmission builders promised. “The record smashing number of public intervenors coming forward,” says David Stanfield of Blue Mounds, Wisconsin, “mirrors our soaring electric bills and unaffected emissions. Intervening is my opportunity to address climate change by pressing for Non-Transmission Alternatives which guarantee home, farm and business savings with maximized CO2 emission reductions. Expanding reliance on vague utility claims is fool hardy.”

David Giffey, Arena, a Wisconsin resident for more than seventy years, sees the high voltage transmission option as directly undercutting natural habitats and quality of life across Southwest Wisconsin. As an advocate for his community, Giffey stresses fairness and due process. "We have worked hard to communicate with all parties," he said. "I encourage the state to listen to its residents and ratepayers.”

Most of the individuals who are intervening are doing so because they want to see the rights of electric customers restored in this state and decision making better reflect the public welfare.

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Contact Chris Klopp at gypsydancer@tds.net or 608-438-0883 for more information