- The Wisconsin Public Service Commission gave final approval last week to the $580 million, 180 mile, 345-kV Badger-Coulee high-voltage transmission line that would deliver 1,400 MW of renewables, primarily wind, into the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) system.
- The line’s opponents argued the Xcel Energy-American Transmission Co. (ATC) project, which will run from Madison to La Crosse, is an unnecessary expense that increases utility-owned central generation but will diminish the value of distributed generation development. The Clean Energy Task Force and Save Our Unique Lands of Wisconsin say they will challenge the PSC decision in court.
- The unanimous decision from the PSC regulators completes the ATC-Northern States Power (Wisconsin) five year pursuit of necessary approvals and clears the way for construction to start later this year. That will allow the line to be in service by 2018.
The PSC determinded the line will generate $118-$702 million for ratepayers over its estimated 40-year life. It will cost ratepayers an estimated $87 billion.
Citizens Energy Task Force (CETF) argued the line’s benefits to ratepayers do not justify its costs and that a combination of energy efficiency (EE), load management, demand response (DR), and distributed generation (DG) could provide the same benefits at a much lower cost.
In 2011, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued Order 1000. It was intended to identify the most cost-effective strategy to obtain reliability, congestion, and power quality for the grid but required consideration by regulators of “non-transmission alternatives” like EE, DR, and DG against new transmission proposals.
Wind on the Wires, a Midwestern wind advocacy group, rejected the CETF argument and described Badger-Coulee as “a vital link” in the MISO Multi-Value Projects (MVPs) transmission network that will deliver emissions-free, low-cost wind to reduce MISO energy market congestion and make the MISO grid more reliable.