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Environmental Groups Ask PSC to Reconsider CapX2020 Power Lines

With Demand Down, Need For New Lines Questioned

CapX2020 proposed route line in SW Wisconsin
CapX2020 proposed route line in southwest Wisconsin, between Belvidere and Onalaska. http://www.capx2020.com/routemaps/HRL-WS-routemaps.html

Groups opposing a major transmission line in southwest Wisconsin have asked the Public Service Commission to rethink its decision in approving the project.

CapX2020 was approved by the PSC in 2012 and will bring power from the Dakotas to the La Crosse area. Construction is set to begin this year.

Citizens Energy Task Force (CETF) and Save Our Unique Lands (SOUL) of Wisconsin have been fighting major transmission upgrade projects, like CapX, for years. In the groups’ latest attempt to stop the massive power line construction, they’ve asked the PSC to reopen the CapX2020 case.

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Deb Severson works with the opposition groups. She said the demand for electricity is down, but the project was approved with the notion that the need would grow. Severson said she wants the PSC to think about solar energy generation and a back-up power plant in La Crosse and how those could provide enough energy for the region instead of the CapX lines.

“We feel it’s worth, before we cross the Mississippi River and incur the environmental and financial costs of doing so, we should take one more look at the new information and how it impacts needs and benefits,” Severson says, “before we make an irreversible decision.”

A CapX spokesman said while electricity sales are down nationally, the peak energy loads continue to rise every year. He said the existing power lines can’t handle the energy demand during hot, summer afternoons and energy companies need a better cushion when planning ahead for electricity demands.

The PSC has until Feb. 10 to decide if it will reconsider the CapX2020 case. A PSC spokesman said it has reopened transmission line cases in the past and modified project details, but it has never reversed its decision on a major project.