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Opposition tries to sink already-approved Wisconsin transmission project through conflict of interest claims.

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Christopher Neely's picture
Independent, Local News Organization

Journalist for nearly a decade with keen interest in local energy policies for cities and national efforts to facilitate a renewable revolution. 

  • Member since 2017
  • 755 items added with 373,095 views
  • Jul 8, 2022

The necessary regulators have approved a 100-mile high-capacity transmission project from Wisconsin to Iowa but opposition groups are still trying to sink the project through legal and political means. 

The nearly $500 million Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line was approved in 2019. However, a court battle has been underway after environmental groups claimed that one of the yes votes on the project, former Wisconsin Public Service Commission member Michale Huebsch, had regular private communication with American Transmission Co. and We Energies, co-owners of the then-proposed transmission line. The argument is that Huebsch had the appearance of bias in voting yes on the project. 

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Huebsch's attorneys called the complaint part of a "fishing expedition" by environmental groups looking to kill the project. The Wisconsin Supreme Court voted 4-3 earlier this week that Huebsch didn't have to respond to attorney subpoenas in the case. 

This is an excellent example of the kind of well-organized opposition transmission projects are going to face in this next phase of the renewable energy revolution, even after the projects have received the necessary approvals. Developers would do well to ensure they are bringing stakeholders to the table and taking them along through the process if for nothing else than an attempt to mitigate the momentum of opposition during and, clearly, after approvals. 


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