Energy News Network reports that landowners are pushing back against a proposed new transmission line that will bring more wind energy to central Wisconsin.
As the United States transitions to more wind energy to supply our electricity needs, we will also need lots of new transmission lines. I think you are going to see more and more landowners, particularly farmers, start to push back. The latter part of the article sums up the landowners’ concerns nicely:
Dick Cates’ family has run a grass-fed cattle operation in central Wisconsin for more than a half-century.
Cates and many of his neighbors feel the proposed transmission line would have a serious impact on the ecology, mood and economic prospects of the region, disrupting wildlife and views and potentially deterring tourists.
The line would run about a mile away from Cates’ farm, he said, but “it’s not just an in-our-backyard kind of thing. We really feel that sort of transmission of power through our state is not necessary for the amount of power being used and the environmental impacts it will have.”
Cates and his wife took over the farm from his father three decades ago, and more recently passed it on to their son.
“They have a whole network of young people who are doing innovative things on the farms — making their own cheese, direct marketing their beef or pork products, growing heirloom small grains, B&Bs, wedding venues,” Cates said. “Every one of those enterprises depends on our unique environment, on people wanting to come to our area. Some of those businesses will be directly underneath the line. Not that I’m in any way a Luddite or against development — I just feel in our particular area we have the potential of repopulating our younger generation if we keep the landscape as it is.”
Retired doctor Michael McDermott moved to rural, picturesque Vermont, Wisconsin, after years heading the emergency room at Chicago’s public hospital. He chairs a citizens committee that surveyed almost 300 locals about the transmission line, and found more than 80 percent opposed it. Nearby dairy farms, a beekeeper and a medivac helicopter operation would be among the entities affected by the transmission line in their area, he said.
“It’s an antiquated way of doing business, with no real plan as to how to shift to a different system,” McDermott said. “We know energy efficiency is by far the best bang for the buck. But when you look at the application and draft [environmental impact statement], everything including the examination of alternatives is looked at from the assumption that the high-voltage transmission grid system is the only way.”
Groups including The Nature Conservancy have documented the impact the line could have on ecosystems and wildlife, including in the “driftless area” of Wisconsin where glaciers didn’t scour land flat as in neighboring areas.
“We wouldn’t contemplate doing something like this in the Grand Canyon,” said David Clutter, executive director of the Driftless Area Land Conservancy. “People don’t understand or appreciate the value of this landscape out here. It’s a special place and it needs to be protected.”
Residents say that for long-time farmers like Cates or “ex-pats” escaping cities like McDermott, the line would change what they love about the state. But most stress their opposition is not rooted in NIMBYism.
“We don’t want it here — exclamation point, exclamation point,” McDermott said. “But we don’t want it anywhere else either. The issue of where we’re going with all this underlies it. It really bothers me that there’s no willingness to look at how things could be different.”