Public Service Commission Holds Public Hearing on Arrowhead-Weston

By: Bill Martens
By: Bill Martens

"And hopefully, someday, we can pass it on to our children, but with a 345-kilovolt line running through the center, what will be the long-term health hazards?" asks Irene Hoffman.

About 50 people gathered at the Rib Mountain Municipal Center for the latest round of public hearings held by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin.

One of the issues regarding this project is how a high-voltage power line will effect those living near it.

Like nearly every other aspect of the plan, there are multiple questions.

"It's up to the American Transmission Company to guarantee us that this line is safe to humans and our animals, and before we sign any papers, we need some answers," one woman said.

Joe Koehler, a utility worker, says, "I guess I represent the people that work directly around the power lines and if you talk to those directly, I don't know of a single case that's ever happened from any of them, and these guys are working literally within feet or hands-on transmission lines throughout their career."

Representatives from ATC and Save Our Unique Lands, or S.O.U.L., showed up as well, and they're sticking to their guns.

"I personally think that just the overwhelming abundance of information showing the critical need for this project for Wisconsin, the support it's gotten from every technical expert, from three governors now, I mean, people who understand our system realize that this is about us and keeping the lights on and jobs available for people here," says Mark Williamson, vice president of major projects.

However, Tom Kreager, president of S.O.U.L., disagrees.

"What we're really concerned about is that Arrowhead has never been properly thought or studied and what we're looking at is a half billion-dollar investment for Arrowhead-Weston that's going to provide very little in the line of reliability or security and, as a matter of fact, will require substantial upgrades not only at the Arrowhead substation, but also in Central Wisconsin."

Other public hearings were held in Solon Springs and Ladysmith. All this testimony will be combined with other records and eventually, the commission will make a decision on what to do.

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