Join your friends and neighbors in opposing Cardinal-Hickory Creek
American Transmission Company and its partners ITC and Dairyland Power Cooperative have proposed a massive 125-mile transmission line project that would run from Middleton, WI to Dubuque, IA. The Cardinal-Hickory Creek line is ENVIRONMENTALLY DESTRUCTIVE, NOT NEEDED, EXPENSIVE TO RATEPAYERS and OUTDATED. Help us prevent this dinosaur-aged technology from ruining the beautiful Driftless Area.
Let’s demand something better for Southwest Wisconsin. Read below to learn more about how DALC has been working to oppose this transmission line and how you can get involved. A clean, renewable energy future is possible. We do not need to destroy a large track of the nationally significant Driftless Region to provide a forward-thinking energy future for Wisconsin.
Our expert witnesses have said it best. Read their full testimonies below.
“There are multiple options before us—ways to conserve and to develop clean and sustainable energy—that can serve the Driftless Area and all the landscapes beyond it. We must strive together for energy solutions that do not sacrifice other conservation goals and degrade the quality of our land. The decision on this proposed powerline is a test. It will show if we as a society are willing to resist the easy path of expediency and short-term profit. It will show that we can do the hard and necessary thing: meeting current needs in innovative ways that also and simultaneously protect the quality of the land that sustains us.” – Curt Meine, Conservation Biologist, Environmental Historian, Writer, Adjunct Faculty at UW-Madison and Senior Fellow with the Center for Humans and Nature.
CHC – Right-of-Ways & Easements for Landowners
Land owners on the Cardinal-Hickory Creek route:
You will be contacted by the developers. How you respond will affect the disposition of your land now and on into the future.
We strongly suggest you don’t sign anything until you’ve consulted an attorney and/or land appraiser.
- Driftless Area Land Conservancy (DALC), Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, Iowa County and others are appealing the decision of the Public Service Commission. If successful in the courts, this project will be stopped or postponed. Federal permitting and other processes are also continuing.
- Even as the appeals and other processes move forward at the Federal level, the developers – ITC, ATC and others – are contacting individual landowners to begin the easement-signing process.
- You have rights with respect to your land! You Do Not Have to Sign any documents as presented. It’s strongly advised that you consult with an attorney regarding the contract and any other requests by the transmission company or their agents.
- The developers’ agents will likely ply you with many misleading or partially false reasons to sign such as:
- It’s to the landowner’s advantage and will be easier to sign early.
- The neighbors are all signing up.
- Bonuses are available for early signers. Don’t Take the Bait! We strongly suggest you make no decisions until you’ve learned more through an attorney, land appraiser of other resources.
NOTE: In similar situations, some landowners have been awarded much more by a court than was offered by the transmission company.
“Rights-of-Ways and Easements for Electrical Facility Construction in Wisconsin” by the Wisconsin PSC
It contains more information about what an easement is and your rights. The document is not short, but it does have a table of contents that you can use to help navigate. Here are a few highlights:
- An easement between a transmission owner and a landowner is a legal contract that allows the transmission owner to build and maintain the power line. It sets forth the rights of the transmission company and the landowner with respect to the property.
- Any easement will run with the land and impact future landowners.
- In a typical negotiation, a transmission owner’s agent presents a landowner with a draft easement and an estimate of the value of the Right of Way (ROW) it wants to purchase. The landowner has the right to negotiate both the terms and the amount to be paid.
- The landowner has the right to have his or her own appraisal made by a qualified appraiser. The reasonable cost of this appraisal must be reimbursed by the transmission owner if: (1) it is submitted to the utility within 60 days after receipt of the utility’s appraisal; and (2) it meets the standards under Wisconsin law.
- There is nothing barring one landowner along a proposed transmission route from discussing easement concerns with other landowners before signing.
- Landowners have certain rights under the law that they do not have to waive. The document lists these. However, the transmission company may still ask you to waive these rights. Look for items that are crossed out or specified as “waived.”
Best wishes with your property negotiations. We’re convinced that we’re on the right side of this issue and plan to prevail in the end.
Update: Filing an Appeal on the PSC Decision
Filing an Appeal to the PSC decision must be complete by December 16th
- DALC and Wis. Wildlife Fed. are working together to file a joint appeal but because of legal complications are NOT accepting others to join in that appeal.
- Municipalities and individuals have two other options:
- Seek legal counsel and file one’s own appeal as an individual, institution, municipality etc.
- Join the Iowa County appeal. Details below.
Considering joining the Iowa County Appeal (see below from Frank Jablonski) Contact DALC office with questions.
Iowa County is willing to take much of the weight (i.e., cost) on a coordinated appeal (i.e., involving multiple appellants).
If a municipality wants to join party with Iowa County it has to:
- Help defray some of the cost – – there has to be some benefit to the County to correspond to the complications that will/may arise in a joint effort;
- Agree that the appeal is limited to the overall issue of yes/no on the line – – there will not be a “but if you must build it put it somewhere else” element to this appeal;
- Be cooperative – – we don’t want attention subdivided onto things that will not be effective.
- Party status from intervening in the CHC proceeding at the PSCW even if the town/village did not file position papers. The Parties do not have to have potentially impacted land in their jurisdictions in the final routing.
- Town, Village or City governmental unit has potentially impacted land in their jurisdictions in the final routing.
State Court Appeals – Deadlines have been extended. Current deadline is uncertain but likely will extend into mid-November at least.
Federal Court Appeals – The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) comment period runs until Nov. 25.
Then the final Record of Decision (ROD) is expected in January. At that point the federal court appeal deadline will be established.
Requires fairly simple letter-like correspondence sent to Iowa County Exec. Larry Bierke. Mr. Jablonski will provide a sample and have a meeting with those who are interested (possibly a phone conference call). No brief or position paper is required.
Individual Eligibility — Generally, individual people who were not interveners cannot appeal. However, landowners who are directly threatened by the line might have a shot. Municipalities are different. Because this is a CPCN, they can appeal even if they were not interveners if they have jurisdiction over land (e.g., zoning or other regulatory power) – – basically, if it goes through the municipality.
Here is the statute: 196.491(3)(j) Any person whose substantial rights may be adversely affected or any county, municipality or town having jurisdiction over land affected by a certificate of public convenience and necessity for which an application is filed under par. (a) 1. may petition for judicial review, under ch. 227, of any decision of the commission regarding the certificate.
DALC Board Joins Appeal of PSC Decision on Cardinal-Hickory Creek
August 23, 2019
Driftless Area Land Conservancy Board of Directors Voted to Appeal Wisconsin PSC’s Decision Approving Huge Unnecessary High-Voltage Transmission Line that Will Permanently Damage the Driftless Area
There Are Better Clean Energy Solutions and Alternatives for Wisconsin
The Driftless Area Land Conservancy’s Board of Directors voted to authorize the appeal of the Public Service Commission’s preliminary decision, if finalized, to approve the proposed Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line. This massive transmission line is not needed for reliability, and it would cut a wide swath through the scenic Driftless Area’s vital natural resources and communities.
The Board of Directors voted in favor of appealing the PSC’s decision because the Commissioners:
- disregarded the expert energy and natural resources witnesses’ testimony presented by the Driftless Area Land Conservancy and Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, as well as others, in opposition to the proposed transmission line and in support for better clean energy alternatives;
- ignored the virtually unanimous bipartisan opposition of state legislators, counties and many municipalities in Southwest Wisconsin; and
- overrode the overwhelming public opposition of community members, farm groups, conservation organizations and businesses who appeared at public hearings and submitted online comments against this unneeded and destructive proposed transmission line.
The Driftless Area Land Conservancy plans to join the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation and others in seeking judicial review in the courts.
Expert Witness Testimony to the PSC on Behalf of DALC and WWF
Articles and Useful Links
Construction of a huge, expensive new high capacity transmission powerline is being planned by the American Transmission Co. (ATC). This line would damage a 125 mile swath of the unique driftless area of Southwest Wisconsin and commit rate-payers to higher monthly bills for years to come.
The proposed corridors lie completely within the Driftless Area, the Midwest’s most unique eco-region and special scenic landscape. This area is recognized internationally and by the Departments of Natural Resources in four states as a region of critical conservation opportunity and concern. It contains multiple rare habitats and is the largest contiguous area of fish and wildlife habitat in the Upper Mississippi River basin area.
The mission of the Driftless Area Land Conservancy (DALC) is to maintain and enhance the health, diversity and beauty of Southwest Wisconsin’s natural and agricultural landscape. This proposed new high capacity powerline severely threatens the heart of the Driftless Area negatively impacting the three qualities DALC is mandated to preserve. Therefore, after thorough investigation, DALC has concluded it must oppose the construction of this powerline.
Powerline Proposal Details
• Cardinal-Hickory Creek (CHC) would be a high-voltage 345kV transmission line supported by 17-story tall towers.
• It would run 125 miles from the Cardinal substation in Middleton, WI to the Hickory Creek Substation in Dubuque, IA.
• It’s estimated to cost at least $500 million plus financing costs with a mandated 10.2% ($50 million or more) annual rate of return for the developers. These costs would be borne by the ratepayers over the anticipated 30-40 yr. lifetime of the line.
• ATC profits solely on the construction and maintenance of powerlines whether they are needed or not. They have every incentive to simply build new infrastructure regardless of need.
Rationale for Opposition:
The DALC Board of Directors has retained the services of the Environmental Law & Policy Center, a highly reputable Midwest non-profit environment and natural heritage law firm to guide and assist DALC in developing and carrying out a strategy to inform the public and Wisconsin policy makers of the negative impacts inherent in this proposed project. DALC has also hired a community organizer to coordinate its efforts to prevent the construction of the Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line.
Wider Community's Response
It’s becoming increasingly clear to conservation groups, businesses, and municipalities that this proposal is a bad idea. It will not serve the public’s best interests nor promote the health, beauty and diversity of the Driftless Area. Numerous groups have expressed opposition and many have formally passed Opposition Resolutions including many municipalities, conservation organizations, businesses and school districts. These resolutions have been submitted to the Wisconsin Public Service Commission as opposition across Southwest Wisconsin continues to grow.
Concerned individuals and organizations such as Driftless Defenders, Western Dane Preservation Campaign and SOUL of Wisconsin are coming together to oppose this expensive, unnecessary powerline expansion. A strong, united voice will be needed to convince decision-makers this project does not serve the best interests of our communities. Our opposition coalition continues to grow and we welcome you to be a part of it.
For more information - Please contact Chuck Tennessen: firstname.lastname@example.org