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Midwest utilities select route for 345-kV line in Wisconsin, Iowa


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Midwest utilities select route for 345-kV line in Wisconsin, Iowa

Three Midwest utilities have settled on a proposed route for the Cardinal-Hickory Creek Project, a $500 million, 345-kV transmission line planned for Iowa and Wisconsin to improve regional reliability and increase access for renewable energy resources.

American Transmission Co. LLC, ITC Midwest LLC and Dairyland Power Cooperative announced Feb. 19 that the preferred and alternate routes will be submitted to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin for consideration. In the meantime, the companies are informing land owners along the proposed routes and scheduling meetings to discuss any concerns they may have. The companies have held numerous public meetings over the past four years since the project was announced in 2014.

The Cardinal-Hickory Creek line is one of 17 transmission projects approved by the Midcontinent ISO as a "multivalue project," specifically, a portion of MVP 5, along with the 345-kV Badger-Coulee Project now under construction in Wisconsin, which means the project is expected to deliver multiple benefits by improving reliability, providing economic benefits to utilities and electric consumers, and expanding electric infrastructure to support public policy goals for more renewable generation.

Dairyland Vice President for Power Delivery Ben Porath said the proposed line will meet all of those expectations, supporting access to renewables and stabilizing energy prices to reduce grid congestion.

According to the project's website, the line will stretch approximately 102 miles to 120 miles depending on the route and will connect the existing Hickory Creek substation in the western part of Dubuque County, Iowa, and the existing Cardinal substation in the town of Middleton, Wis., in Dane County. The project would also include a new intermediate substation near Montfort, Wis.

With the route proposal finalized, the project still has a number of hurdles to clear before construction can begin. For instance, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service must prepare an environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy Act. The project still needs approvals from state agencies in Wisconsin and Iowa, as well as federal approvals from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The utilities plan to begin the regulatory review process in Iowa in the spring. Once all of these steps are complete, the utilities said the project will be in service in 2023.

ITC Midwest is a subsidiary of Fortis Inc.