Cross Plains protesters fight high voltage project

CROSS PLAINS, Wis. — People in western Wisconsin are speaking out this weekend against plans to connect more than 100 miles of land with high voltage lines.

The American Transmission Company’s  Cardinal-Hickory Creek electric powerline, which is set to be in use by 2023, would stretch from Dubuque County, IA to Dane County, covering 114 wetlands as well as a region known as the Driftless Area.

Untouched by glaciers, the region holds the world’s largest concentration of cold water streams. Protesters fear the addition of the line could pose a threat to wildlife in the area.

“We’re concerned about that, the destruction that’s taking place,” said George Meyer, secretary of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation.  “The construction adversely affects the fish and wildlife throughout the area and the forestry resources.”

The Federation asked federal courts for a preliminary injunction to halt the project in October. Earlier this month, it was granted. However, ATC continues to work on the project.

“ATC, until the courts rule, which could be by the end of the year, stop, lets see what the courts have to say about it,” said Meyer.

The ATC says it’s been authorized to continue its work, and argues that it’s simply misleading that the project would harm any wildlife. Along with

utility co-owners ITC Midwest and Dairyland Power Cooperative, they provided this statement:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. But spreading misinformation about the Cardinal-Hickory Creek Transmission Line Project is not something we support. Here are the facts:

  • The utility co-owners currently have regulatory authorization to move forward with a majority of construction activities, regardless of current court proceedings.
  • Ninety-five percent of the Cardinal-Hickory Creek project in Wisconsin will follow existing utility right-of-way. So even though some vegetation removal is needed to widen the right-of-way, the assertion that we’re destroying property is simply misleading.

Meanwhile, the number of renewable generation projects in our region has multiplied; currently there are 108 renewable generation projects contingent upon its construction and operability.”

Still, protesters say they’ll continue to fight.

“Thousands of people literally opposed,” said Meyer.