Driftless Defenders is a grassroots coalition of citizens dedicated to preventing the construction of high voltage transmission lines through the geologically unique Driftless Area of Wisconsin.
American Transmission Company (ATC), ITC Midwest, and Dairyland Power Co-op propose to build massive steel towers and 345 kilovolt transmission lines through 125 miles of our rural towns and scenic countryside. Their project, called “Cardinal-Hickory Creek” (CHC), will not provide for the greater good of the public; rather it is designed to make money for ATC, a private corporation, and its shareholders. They are guaranteed a 10.2% rate of return simply for “putting steel in the ground.” There are better, less expensive alternatives for meeting our energy demand. Watch our video and read below to understand our reasons for opposition. To see where the CHC line could be built, view the route map.
Now that Cardinal-Hickory Creek is in the PSC review process visit our PSC Updates page for the latest information.
For ongoing ways to help Driftless Defenders maintain public pressure and keep the CHC issue in the public eye, visit our Get Involved page.
Why we oppose the transmission lines:
Not Needed and Outmoded
- Demand for electricity has been flat or declining in Wisconsin and adjacent states.
- Wisconsin ranks in top ten states for grid reliability.
- Our energy needs can be better met with locally-produced, cost-effective, and up-to-date 21st century alternatives that do not require massive and obtrusive transmission lines.
Exorbitant Cost — Paid by Us
- Construction alone is estimated at $500-$700 million. Other expenses raise cost to over $1 billion.
- For 40 years we will be forced to pay for this project on our electric bills, which already are among the highest in the Midwest.
- Meanwhile, ATC investors will receive a 10.2% guaranteed annual rate of return!
Serious Economic Impact
- Tourism businesses will suffer when the area loses its scenic appeal.
- Real estate values will drop by as much as 40% on and near the routes of the transmission lines.
- Property will be difficult to sell.
- Farm operations will be compromised.
Destruction of Our Environment
- The scenic beauty and serenity of our unique Driftless landscape and the character of our rural area will be radically and permanently altered by the presence of massive, industrial-style steel towers with their buzzing and popping wires.
- Native plants and wildlife will be impacted.
- Clear cutting and herbicide treatments will be used regularly to maintain a corridor under the lines measuring 150 feet wide by 125 miles long.
More About Us
Driftless Defenders is a non-partisan, all volunteer group. It began with five friends living in Dodgeville Township. Everyone along the proposed route received a letter from ATC informing them of the CHC proposal to build 170-ft tall high-voltage transmission towers across the Driftless region from Dubuque, Iowa to Middleton, Wisconsin (125 miles) via towns, farmland, nature conservancy, prairie restoration, and woodlands. These five residents sent an invitation to their neighbors to meet and discuss the situation.
To their surprise, more than 70 people from four townships gathered in a neighbor’s barn to discuss the transmission line, its economic and environmental implications, and what they could do to stop it. We named ourselves the Driftless Defenders.
From that first meeting we have grown from a tiny grassroots organization to one that reaches thousands of people dedicated to preserving the unique Driftless area and opposing the construction of unnecessary transmission lines.
Farmers, landowners, business owners, conservationists, tourists, and many others living and visiting the Driftless region, understand quite well that the construction of this high-voltage line will permanently mar a landscape that supports a thriving rural sector and a broad range of protected and endangered plant and animal species. Driftless Defenders is helping to spread the word that there is no demonstrated need for this high-capacity transmission line. There is no justification for the negative impact such a line would have on rural development, tourism, local property values, taxes, electric bills, and the environment.
Driftless Defenders is a strong proponent of meeting the energy demands of Wisconsin and its adjoining states through improvements in energy efficiency, conservation, non-transmission alternatives, and local renewables.
NOTE: While we are a non-profit organization, we are not 501(c)(3). This means your donations to our group will not be tax deductible.