FREEDOM - The American Transmission Company has narrowed down potential route options for its major power line project in Northeast Wisconsin.
However, some residents who fall within the plans aren't too keen on the project.
After months of feedback, ATC officials said Wednesday plans are coming together. Officials say the project would expand the North Appleton Substation in the Town of Freedom.
And two high-voltage lines would run from that substation to the Morgan Substation near Oconto Falls.
The potential routes could be a combination of any of the paths outlined in yellow.
The proposed project would include a 345,000-volt and a 138,000-volt line. It's expected to cost between $189 and $283 million.
"We have some serious reliability needs on the northern end of our system," explained ATC spokesperson Jackie Olson. "We also have a system that operates much more round the clock most days of the year. That's a-typical for a transmission system."
Olson says ATC was able to narrow down the number of affected landowners from 6,000 to 600. But those who still fall under the umbrella aren't happy.
"My concern is our property values, and the future of Freedom, there's a lot of land that's going to be taken away from the future of Freedom," explained Freedom resident Tim Lehrer.
Freedom residents we talked with say there are still a lot of unanswered questions.
"In the future, the way we see it from an aerial view, the town could look like a spider web over the top," said Town of Freedom supervisor Steve Lowney.
ATC officials say nothing is set in stone. The company will host two open houses for property owners next month.
Open houses will run from 1 to 7 p.m. on the following days and locations:
- Wednesday, May 8: Oconto Falls Senior Center, Oconto Falls.
- Thursday, May 9: The Colonial House Supper Club, Freedom.
However, the proposal will still need state approval.
"It's the Public Service Commission that will decide the route if the project is approved, so people who have an interest in the project should stay with it through the PSC review," Olson explained. "There will be opportunities for public comment on the project itself and the routes as well."
The company intends to file an application with the PSC early next year.
The Bay Lake Project also includes a new 138,000-volt line in Michigan, from the Holmes Substation in Menominee County to a substation in Escanaba. An open house for that project is scheduled for June.
A proposed line from Oconto Falls to Michigan's Upper Peninsula is currently on hold.
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