Transmission Line Application Bill Comes Under Fire


A bill that would streamline the application process for permitting new high-voltage transmission lines is facing strong opposition from groups representing farmers and utility rate payers.

The bill would eliminate one step in the permitting process for new transmission lines – a step the backers of the bill say requires companies to essentially apply twice, once to the Public Service Commission and then again to the Department of Natural Resources. Bill sponsor Republican State Representative Mark Honadel says the current process requires companies to send out proposed routes for new power lines to local municipalities before a final route has been decided on.

“Why should all these ideas be sent out to the clerks and just confuse the whole issue until a specific route has been chosen? That’s why we’re doing what we’re doing in the bill. I would say once it’s become soup then we’re going to send out all this documentation to the local municipalities.”

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But several rate payer and landowner groups oppose the plan to reduce the length of the application process. Kara Slaughter of the Wisconsin Farmers Union says it would limit public input on important decisions about how electric power will be produced and distributed. She says the bill gives farmers less time to respond to proposed transmission lines running through their farm fields.

“The most effective opportunity for land owners and citizens to weigh in about a project that would affect their land is earlier rather than later. It causes a lot of problems when it comes to moving equipment [and] moving animals, so landowners need to know that.”

Slaughter called on the committee to slow down consideration of the bill and postpone the committee vote scheduled for this coming Thursday.