Through years of hearings on an estimated $220 million transmission line between Rockdale and West Middleton, Pleasant Springs leaders said nothing.
Now, almost six months after the state approved the project, they want to be heard.
“Basically, until the (Public Service Commission of Wisconsin) made the determination not to take the southern route for the line, it wasn’t an issue for us,” said Town Chairman Richard Green. “Even when they picked the Beltline Route, they never told us which side of the road it would be on.”
But the plan to run the lines along the north side of Interstate 90 in Pleasant Springs has residents of a nearby 29-home subdivision raising concerns about noise and safety. The town in September asked the PSC to require shifting the lines to the south side of the highway for about 600 feet neighboring the subdivision.
The PSC was scheduled to discuss the matter at its meeting Tuesday but delayed the discussion until the next open meeting, tentatively scheduled for Dec. 3.
Moving the lines to the other side of the highway for a temporary stretch could add about $1 million to the project’s cost, according to the project’s developer, Waukesha-based American Transmission Co. LLC. ATC chose the north side of I-90 because of a wider right-of-way from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, said company spokeswoman Sarah Justus.
Crossing the highway twice to avoid the subdivision would require construction of more corner poles and additional wires, Justus said.
Green said the extra $1 million is a minor expense.
“In the scope of the project,” he said, “it’s pennies.”
If the PSC decides to keep the lines on the north side of I-90, the lines would be about 160 feet from the nearest property line. PSC spokeswoman Teresa Weidemann-Smith said poles for power lines within a WisDOT right of way must be at least 150 feet from property lines.
Green said he knows Pleasant Springs faces an uphill battle, but it’s no reason to keep quiet.
If the PSC does not require ATC move the lines, he said, the town wants ATC to try separating poles as far as possible around the subdivision.
ATC is finalizing project designs and will consider the town’s concerns and maintain contact with Pleasant Springs, Justus said.
Green said he does not know how ATC will respond to the town’s request.
“They’re like God,” he said. “We can voice an opinion and say we’re concerned about something, but it’s hard to say where we’re going to go with this.
“If the PSC says it doesn’t have to change, we can’t appeal, and the ATC representative we spoke to seemed informed about what we were saying, but not concerned.”