Sunday, July 24, 2011


July 25, 2011.

For several weeks now Wisconsin citizens have had an opportunity to attend "Open House" public relations sales events presented by the American Transmission Company (ATC), promoting its Badger Coulee (BC) high voltage - high capacity electric transmission line project proposal (Costing 425 Million dollars - traveling 150 miles through the heart of Wisconsin). ATC encourages the Public (at these events) to focus on where the towers should be placed, and totally avoids the question: IS THERE A "NEED" FOR THIS PROJECT? "NOT IN MY BACKYARD" is ATC's deliberate strategy to divide the Public while wrongfully presenting this ATC-BC proposal as a far gone conclusion.

ATC does not generate electricity, it is solely in the for-profit business of constructing mammoth electric transmission line corridors. The more corridors it builds, the more money it makes. The Public electric rate payers are stuck with the bill (from the beginning of the application process, all the way through the eminent domain land seizure litigation, until up to 40 years after the corridor construction is completed). As a consumer, I first establish that I need a product. Then, I buy the most affordable product I can find to meet that need. ATC, wants to sell the Public on its multi Million dollar product first (by asking where do you want me to put the towers) and plans to only reveal to the public its "Need" Application data (two years later) when ATC submits its Final Badger Coulee Application (through a privileged legal proceeding and hearing) before the Public Service Commission (PSC) of Wisconsin, in 2013.

Many Wisconsin towns (like the one I live in) are asking: Why should Wisconsin residents be forced to sacrifice or suffer from the loss of real-estate values, tourism, natural resources, potential health risks, and eminent domain land seizures, without first receiving convincing independent study data, confirming the "NEED" for this sacrifice? Is the ATC-BC  (high voltage - high capacity solution) proposal the best (most cost effective) solution to fix specific existing ATC suggested low voltage upgrades? How can citizens even be assured there are low voltage needed upgrades when ATC is the source of those studies? The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Public Service Commission (PSC) of Wisconsin have suggested that the national electric grid system (including the Wisconsin electric grid system) are reliable, stable, and that there is even an excess of electricity generation (capacity) already in our grid network! In fact, Wisconsin, in total, has used much less electricity every year (since 2008), and our national growth rate is projected to be less than 1.4%, until 2020. Why then, should Wisconsin (who has already spent Millions on upgrades since 2002 - and is way ahead of our Midwest counterparts) be asked to undertake another ATC expensive dirty coal importing project, during one of our nations worst recessions, in recent memory? Especially concerning to me is that fact that the Badger Coulee line will not be a significant source of renewable energy (contrary to ATC 's claims). The Badger Coulee line will be part of a "Super Grid" dirty coal transmission network designed to sell energy in the direction of the East Coast, where their profits could be doubled. But you wont get ATC to talk about that issue. What do you think would happen if the proposed Minnesota CapX2020 "Super Grid" high voltage corridor in La Crosse, Wisconsin (the Minnesota high voltage feeder to Wisconsin's proposed ATC-BC line) was denied? ATC has told me, that if CapX2020 was in jeopardy, ATC would have to re-evaluate ATC's position on the ATC Badger Coulee project. What does that tell you about what the goal is here regarding the "Super Grid?" What about Wisconsin's low voltage fixes? The ones ATC says they could avoid fixing if we constructed the Badger Coulee line? By listening to ATC I thought the BC line was needed no mater what else went on around us. Now, I think I know the truth behind that rhetorical hype.

The general Public needs to become informed on this topic (and get the other side of this story). Gee, I wonder why the press and the media have not stepped up to this issue? The lack of objective news and their eerie silence should give one cause for alarm. Good journalism is more than writing a story about where ATC has events, and when the project is slated to be completed. Once informed, the Public needs to contact their elected officials, and ask the Million dollar question: Where are the "Need" data comparison (cost-benefit) alternative studies? Ask your County Board Supervisors to require ATC to publish their existing ATC-BC Draft Application (the one ATC already submitted to the PSC in 2010 - the same one that is locked inside the PSC vault) preventing the Public  from being able to understand the "NEED," NOW, during the ATC-BC Public Information Phase! How many times does the public have to ask for that data? Is anyone home at ATC? What about the PSC? Maybe they both need to turn their lights on and read their mail!
        Alvin Brinkman
        La Valle, Wisconsin