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Judge Reverses Construction Ban On Part Of Badger-Coulee Line

After Public Service Commission Appeal, La Crosse County Judge Allows Construction To Continue

Power lines
Matt Rourke/AP Photo

A La Crosse County judge has reversed his decision to halt construction on part of the Badger-Coulee Transmission Line.

Earlier this month, La Crosse County Judge Todd Bjerke ordered the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin to reconsider the location of the Badger-Coulee power line on Highway 53 through the Town of Holland.

In his decision, Bjerke said the PSC did not provide a rational basis for routing the project on new poles on one side of the highway instead of using existing infrastructure from a recently completed transmission line, the CapX2020 project, on the other side of the highway.

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The judge also halted construction on the seven-mile stretch of the line.

But the PSC appealed the decision, and Bjerke issued a new ruling that construction could continue this week. But he reiterated the need for the PSC to reconsider the line’s route.

Bob Stupi, a supervisor for the Town of Holland, said he’s disappointed in the judge’s assumption that the new power lines could be removed later if the PSC decides to re-route the line.

“I don’t think you can restore the trees that have been cut for a right of way, and they’re not going to remove the big cement foundations that have been put in place to support the power poles,” Stupi said. “Ultimately, if the power lines are constructed, it would be very hard for someone to make them take the power lines down and restore the landscape.”

American Transmission Company, an owner of the Badger-Coulee project, said they were pleased with the judge’s decision to allow construction to continue.

ATC spokeswoman, Kaya Freiman, said the company took into account public input before submitting two proposed routes to the PSC.

“The route that (PSC) approved and ordered follows a significant amount of existing infrastructure including existing transmission lines and existing highways and the interstate which the public has consistently said their preference for,” Freiman said.

Freiman said ATC will continue to consider next steps for the project if there is another appeal. The entire line stretches from the La Crosse area to the Madison area.

The PSC declined a request for comment.

Editor’s Note: American Transmission Company is an underwriter of Wisconsin Public Radio.