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Regulators OK southwestern Wisconsin power line

Proposed routes for the Cardinal-Hickory Creek line. Wisconsin regulators approved the project on Tuesday, despite from criticism from Illinois and Michigan officials and in-state groups such as the Citizens Utility Board.

Proposed routes for the Cardinal-Hickory Creek line. Wisconsin regulators approved the project on Tuesday, despite from criticism from Illinois and Michigan officials and in-state groups such as the Citizens Utility Board.

MADISON (AP) — State regulators have approved a power line project in southwestern Wisconsin.

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

The project is expected to cost more than $500 million. Those costs will be passed on to ratepayers in 12 states; about $67 million is expected to fall on 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. Officials from Illinois and Michigan have also spoken out against the project.

“In light of the substantial costs associated with the project both for Wisconsin and for Illinois and Michigan consumers, it is necessary to step back and recognize that circumstances have changed enough since 2011 to require the applicants to provide updated transmission alternatives before receiving approval to construct the line,” states a letter recently sent by the Illinois and Michigan attorneys general to the Public Service Commission.

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

According to the plans approved in 2011, the 100-mile Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line would be developed by Dairyland Power Cooperative, American Transmission Co. and ITC Midwest. Approval for the project came in 2011 from MISO, a Carmel, Indiana-based nonprofit group that regulates the electrical grid in the Midwest.

In a letter sent to the PSC last month, MISO pushed back against critics of the project.

“Wisconsin ratepayers are currently sharing the costs of five major regional transmission projects in Illinois and one underway, as well as one completed project in Michigan,” said the ATC spokeswoman Alissa Braatz in a statement. “It is appropriate that electric customers in Michigan and Illinois share in the costs of the Cardinal-Hickory Creek Transmission Line Project.”

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