ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Citizens groups to challenge $500M CapX project

We are part of The Trust Project.

Opponents of a high-voltage power line already under construction between Rochester and Holmen have launched another attempt to stop it.

Two citizens groups announced on Thursday they intend to file a complaint with federal regulators contending the $500 million project, known as CapX2020, was improperly approved.

A joint initiative of 11 utilities, including Xcel Energy and Dairyland Power Cooperative, CapX2020 is a $2.2 billion project to upgrade the Midwestern electric grid. The 780 miles of new transmission lines will include a 150-mile section of 345-kilovolt line from Hampton to a new station to be built in Holmen, Wis.

CapX2020 says the project would upgrade an outdated system, meet future demand and deliver alternative energy. Opponents argue energy demand is declining and the lines will carry coal power to the east while local customers bear the costs — an estimated $200 million for the Wisconsin portion — and suffer damage to health and property values.

Separately, Xcel and American Transmission Company also have proposed a high-voltage line, known as Badger Coulee, running from Holmen to Madison. That project has not been approved; the companies say they intend to file an application later this year with the Wisconsin Public Service Commission.

ADVERTISEMENT

Thursday's challenge contends the projects are inter-dependent.

As the basis of its complaint The Citizens Energy Task Force cites a 2009 Xcel Energy news release, which references a utility study that found "without a line to the east of Minnesota, the transmission system will reach a 'tipping point' where reliability is compromised."

That, said attorney Carol Overland, is proof CapX2020 is dependent upon a second line from Holmen to Madison that has yet to be approved or even officially requested.

Because the Wisconsin Public Service Commission approved CapX2020 as a stand-alone project, Overland contends it violated reliability standards established by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Overland said the groups will request the FERC stop the Hampton-Rochester-La Crosse transmission line because "it contributes to and/or causes electrical system instability."

Project spokesman Tim Carlsgaard said on Thursday CapX planners have not seen the complaint and therefore could not comment.

Overland said she planned to file the complaint by 11:59 p.m.

Opponents previously sought to stop the line, approved by the PSC in May, through the courts, but a judge threw out the case because Overland is not licensed to practice in Wisconsin.

ADVERTISEMENT

Crews began construction two weeks ago on one Minnesota section of the line. Work is expected to begin this summer on a substation in Holmen.

What to read next
A discovery made in the lab sparked the creation of Anatomic Inc., which sells human stem cell-derived sensory neurons to pharmaceutical companies for the possible creation of new, nonaddictive painkillers.
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: As a woman in my 40s, I've experienced a wide variety of diet fads come and go. One week I read it's bad to eat carbs. The next week, it's full-fat dairy products. I've seen articles that say I should only eat between certain hours of the day. There is a lot of contradictory information. How do I distinguish between nutrition myth and fact?
Rural Americans, who die by suicide at a far higher rate than residents of urban areas, often have trouble accessing mental health services. While 988 can connect them to a call center close to home, they could end up being directed to far-away resources.
"Minding Our Elders" columnist Carol Bradley Bursack hears from a reader wondering how to respond when their spouse with dementia sees or talks with his long-deceased parents.