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Opponents seek rehearing on Badger-Coulee power line project

LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) — Several local groups have petitioned state utility regulators for a new hearing on the $580 million high-voltage transmission line across western Wisconsin in an effort to stop the project.

The Citizens Energy Task Force and Save Our Unique Lands petitioned the Public Service Commission on Wednesday for a rehearing on the panel’s decision last month to approve the line.

The proposed Badger-Coulee line is a joint venture between Minnesota-based Xcel Energy and Wisconsin-based American Transmission Company as part of the CapX2020 project running across both states. The companies say the project will improve system reliability, lower electricity rates and provide a pipeline for wind energy, the La Crosse Tribune reported.

The Citizens Energy Task Force and Save Our Unique Lands argue that the line isn’t needed, because data from the federal Energy Information Administration shows U.S. electricity sales fell significantly during the recession and haven’t risen since rebounding in 2010. Sales in Wisconsin were about 1.8 percent below those in 2005, they said.

“Savings potential from high capacity transmission lines generally declines as energy use drops,” the groups said in a press release. “There are indications that contrary to terms of PSC approval, the project could make energy cost more than if the line was not built. These costs would be felt in addition to the negative impacts on local economies where the line would be located.”

A group of 30 Dane County landowners filed a separate petition for a rehearing on Wednesday. The residents want the Public Service Commission to require the companies to bury a 4.6-mile segment of the line near Middleton because the towers’ route would come within 100 feet of three homes.

They also argue that commissioners failed to determine the project’s cost-benefit ratio for electric customers and could end up losing money.

The Public Service Commission has 30 days to consider both rehearing requests.

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