Stewards support building ATC transmission line along interstate instead.

The Stewards of the Dells of the Wisconsin River are collecting signatures from members attempting to spare the land around the Wisconsin River from an additional power line.

In a newsletter to members, Stewards President Debbie Kinder said the group wants to encourage a new transmission line being proposed by American Transmission Company be built by the Interstate 90-94 corridor as opposed to passing through the downtown and crossing the river.

Kaya Freiman, spokesperson for ATC, confirmed that the preliminary routes the company has mapped out for the line cross through Wisconsin Dells and Lake Delton.

A few segments of the proposed routes go over and are near the Wisconsin River, including on Broadway, and Freiman said the line might also run along the railroad tracks or the existing transmission line parallel to Finnegan Avenue.

She also said the company is considering putting the line along the Interstate 90-94 corridor.

“We’re looking at all of them equally at this point. One of them isn’t necessarily weighted more heavily than another,” she said. “....None of these routes are final,” she said.

Freiman said people living closest to the proposed routes for the line received detailed maps. Postcards were sent to people living near the other routes that are no longer being considered for the project, she added.

ATC will hold a local open house on the routes that still remain as possibilities for the project. It will be on April 25 from 1 to 7 p.m. at the Wintergreen Resort and Conference Center in Lake Delton.

The final two route proposals have to be approved by the Public Service Commission. The company hopes to build the line in 2016 and have it operating by 2018.

“The goal is to find the best balance and that includes looking at population density, environmental features, other public input that we have and the constructability of a particular route option, so we balance a number of factors (in picking the route),” Freiman said.

Some people are still asking about the need for the transmission line, but Freiman said a new line is needed for improving electrical reliability, bringing renewable energy from the west and improving access which will enable utilities to buy and sell power economically.

“There have been quite a few questions as far as demand goes, while a lot of people say isn’t demand going down. With the economy, demand has definitely slowed, but it has not decreased and there is going to be a rate of growth as we continue, and we need to plan the transmission system 10, 20 years ahead to make sure that we have reliable power for the communities we serve,” Freiman said.

In the resolution that the Stewards are circulating for members to sign if they want, Kinder writes: “The mission of the Stewards of the Dells of the Wisconsin River is to preserve and protect the scenic, historic, geological, and archaeological features and the ecological well-being of the Dells river corridor. We object to proposed route for the Badger Coulee Line, which would enter the Lower Dells along the railroad line from Highway 16. The railroad tracks run very close to the river just southeast of the dam, and the trees which would need to be cut would detract from the scenic beauty of the river corridor as well as compromising the stability of the steep riverbank. We urge you to use the interstate route, which would skirt the Dells and cause less disruption.”

Kinder will submit the signed resolution to ATC.

An interactive map on the ATC web site helps people see detailed maps of the proposed routes for the transmission line at http://gis.atc-projects.com/BadgerCoulee.