I have been actively following the CapX2020 proposal and the planned American Transmission Company (ATC) Badger Coulee transmission line. While the decision to approve these projects is ultimately up to the Public Service Commission (PSC), as a legislator, I have worked to better understand these proposals and have tried to assist people in having their voices heard during this process.
Hundreds of people in the Coulee Region have participated in the CapX2020 and ATC public meetings and submitted statements to the PSC and ATC. Twenty-three municipalities and counties in the 32nd Senate District have adopted formal resolutions asking to be involved in this process. Despite these efforts, I continue to hear from families and individuals who feel that their voices are not being heard and are growing increasingly frustrated with the often confusing approval process.
People in western Wisconsin are worried about the impact that the CapX2020 and Badger Coulee high-voltage transmission lines will have on family-owned farms, organic farm operations, public health, property values, tourism-based businesses, and the scenic beauty of our region. Property owners are worried about their rights and what will happen if a transmission line is slated to go through their home or business.
I am proud to represent a region that has pioneered new sustainable energy initiatives. As result of the coordination of the E3 Coalition, there is a regional planning effort between Vernon and Crawford Counties and eight local municipalities to achieve 25% renewable energy by 2025. We have public and private anaerobic digesters popping up throughout the region. Farms like Echo Valley are working hard to reduce their consumption and invest in solar energy that can help to power local homes and businesses. Many entrepreneurs are focused on groundbreaking initiatives to bring affordable alternative energies and new industries to our communities. With such innovative rural economic development and energy planning initiatives, citizens of western Wisconsin would be a valuable voice in the transmission line approval process.
The ATC has indicated that the Badger Coulee application will be submitted in early 2013. At that time, the PSC will begin accepting formal comments from individuals, businesses and municipalities, will hold public hearings along proposed routes, and will answer questions about the application. I encourage all Coulee Region residents to continue attending open houses, submitting testimony, and sharing information with friends and neighbors to ensure that our voices are heard throughout this process.