WisBusiness: ATC proposal draws strong protests

By Will Tracy

Nearly 40 residents of Waunakee, Westport and other Dane County communities in the path of high-voltage transmission lines leveled their
opposition to the American Tranmission Company’s DeForest to Westport routes at a public hearing this weekend Public Service Commission Headquarters in Madison.

Only one registrant, Joseph Krzos, a former utility accountant, voiced his
approval for either route connecting the DeForest and Westport

“These transmission lines have a limited life and have to be replaced, to
keep them working properly. It’s what we have to do if you want the
electricity you need.” Krzos said.

Gordon Meffert whose dental office and apartment complex is along the
Highway 113 portion of the proposed route said either route would be
catastrophic, although he had no opinion whether the line was needed or

“That’s for others to decide who have spent much more time looking into
this,” Meffert said.

“If you build the line on the west side of Highway 113, within 46 feet of
my house, it will run though a proposed upscale retail shopping area
proposed for that intersection, which would be catastrophic.”

“My across-the-street neighbor says you can run it on the east side,” Meffert said. “That would be less catastrophic than the proposed zig-zag
back and forth across Highway 113.”

Many of the registrants spoke of being intimidated by ATC and insulted in
editorials in local papers such as the Wisconsin State Journal for not wanting the power lines strung through a residential neighborhood.

“I’m one of the cave men from north of Waunakee,” said Dave Lynch, whose
property is included in one of the routing plans.
“I’ve been told it’s useless to fight ATC, that, they’ll do what they want
anyway,” Lynch said.

“But it’s insulting that they can’t either bury the high-tension lines like they have to do in urban areas, or follow existing rights-of-way along existing arteries, like the county highways or the Interstate. It’s an insult to all of us.”

The first few speakers drew applause from the crowd for their anti-ATC comments before Administrative Judge Ed Marion asked them not to applaud.

Much of the criticicism centered on the amount of money ATC used to support races of political figures, reported health effects of magnetic
fields near power lines, and the disregard for the environment through the use of herbicides to clear the paths under them, or stringing them through natural wildlife areas such as the St. Croix River at the Northwest Wisconsin border with Minnesota.

A second and final public hearing is slated for 7 p.m. tonight in Waunakee at the Community Center on Baker Street.