PSC Updates

THANK YOU Iowa County Board of Supervisor
Voted to Appeal the CHC PSC Decision

And thanks to everyone who worked to make this happen.

Now… we need to get the Dane County Board of Supervisors to Appeal

We only have until October 17, 2019 to get the appeal on the Dane County Board agenda.  If you live in Dane County, please call Supervisors today and ask them to put the appeal question on the agenda.  Here are some talking points:
  • There has never been a 345 kV substation built in Wisconsin that did not attract at least one more 345kV line.
  • In 2018, ATC and ITC reps told the Grant County Board that more 345kV lines are a possibility.
  • Dairyland Power and other WI utilities are already warning their customers that more lines are on the way.  PSC WI Commissioner Huebsch threatened more lines at the September 26, 2019 Open Meeting of the PSC Commission.
  • The PSC Commission decision was based entirely on accepting the Applicants and “clean energy groups in favor of the project” rendition of the facts, excluding extensive testimony to the contrary from experts, intervenors and their own staff.
  • The PSC staff developed an alternative to the project entitled the Base with Asset Renewal Alternative (BWARA).  The BWARA alternative provides all of the essential features that CHC is touted as providing, at a cost of only $900,000 (a fraction of the lowest cost estimate for CHC including financing over 40 years).
  • CHC will not contributed significantly to CO2 emission reductions.  The Applicants “estimates” of CO2 emission reductions is based on increased energy use, which by definition, increases emissions.
  • The electricity that will run on CHC is meant for locations outside of Wisconsin.  We are just a “pass through.”  CHC will not reduce Wisconsin’s reliability on fossil fuels.
  • The building of CHC will not bring jobs to Wisconsin.
  • The Dane County Board already passed a resolution to oppose CHC and they were intervenors in the PSC process.  The Supervisors already know that CHC will raise utility rates, lower property values, and decrease the tax base for the county.  Ask the Supervisors to join with Iowa County in the next logical next step in stopping this line:  ask them to please add the issue of appealing CHC to the agenda of the next Dane County Board meeting.  

Find Dane County Supervisor’s contact information here:



Final CHC Route

The link below will take you to a map of the final CHC route (in blue).  “+” allows you to zoom in to see the exact route in detail.

CHC Route

PSC Commissioners Give Final Approval to CHC

Much to our dismay, on Thursday, September 26th, all three Public Service commissioners gave their final approval to Cardinal-Hickory Creek.  Realistically speaking, we knew a vote to deny was unlikely.  Given the unprecedented and convincing opposition, however, we had hoped for a split vote.

Next Step:  An Appeal

This setback does not mean our fight has ended.  Driftless Area Land Conservancy (DALC), together with Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, will appeal the decision.  They will be represented by attorney Howard Learner, Executive Director of Environmental Law and Policy Center.  He and his staff represented them during the PSC proceedings and will continue to do so throughout the appeal process.  All of their work has been, and will continue to be,  pro bono.  We are sincerely grateful.

To familiarize yourself with Howard Learner, watch this interview on Wisconsin Public Television’s “Here and Now.”  Watch Here


Since Driftless Defenders began three years ago we have been fortunate to have had a close working relationship with Driftless Area Land Conservancy.  We also benefitted from their relationship with Environmental Law and Policy Center.  As a new grassroots organization we would not have been as effective in this fight without their combined guidance.

It is essential that we continue to support them as the appeal process moves forward.  Despite the  pro bono work of ELPC, DALC needs to complete payment of significant expenses for the expert witnesses who gave testimony before the PSC.  Going forward there will be added expenses for the appeal process.  If you are able, please help us stop CHC and acknowledge DALC’s contribution to the cause by making a tax-deductible donation to cover their legal expenses.

Write check to Driftless Area Land Conservancy.

           Write “CHC” in the memo field to restrict your donation to the fight
Mail to: Driftless Area Land Conservancy
206 South Iowa St
P.O. Box 323
Dodgeville, WI  53533

SEND ONLINE:  Donate Here

Details about the PSC Commissioners’ Approval:

More than 100 people attended the PSC Open Session, spilling out of the hearing room into an overflow room with video.  Our understanding was that the commissioners would be having a discussion of a “Decision Matrix,” created by their staff. The meeting began with a short introduction during which the public was praised for their overwhelming input and knowledge about CHC.  The record number of intervenors were also thanked.  Next, with no discussion of the Matrix, all three commissioners announced their approval of CHC.  People were stunned!  Many walked out and gathered in the lobby in a state of confusion, where reporters interviewed some of them.

Many attendees remained for four hours to hear the commissioners discuss the Decision Matrix. It defined 33 issues and under each listed opinions and testimonies of all parties.  They were upset to realize the commissioners disregarded the testimony by expert witnesses and public intervenors, the bipartisan opposition of legislators and municipalities, and the overwhelming public opinion, along with ignoring their own staff’s recommendations.  They abandoned any provisions and protections that would have mitigated the hardship this construction will bring to natural habitats and protected areas, landowner easements, and other reparations.

For a very good report, please listen to Wisconsin Public Radio Morning Show, “Cardinal-Hickory Creek Transmission Line Approved.”  Chris Hubbuch of the Wisconsin State Journal gives an accurate account of the reaction of the crowd and includes a description of the impressive volunteer work that has been done by the opposition. Read More

You can also read Chris Hubbuch’s report in the Wisconsin State Journal, “Regulators approve controversial Cardinal-Hickory Creek power line,” which provides many quotes from both sides of the issue. Read More

Immediately after the decision was announced Democrat legislators Pope, Hesselbein, Considine, and Erpenbach issued a press release stating they were disappointed and surprised by the approval, given the extent of opposition.

Governor Evers’ Announcement and Subsequent Press Conference:

Equally distressing was the timing of two news items the Friday before the Tuesday PSC meeting.  With PSC Commission Chair Rebecca Valcq present, Governor Tony Evers once again announced his executive order for Wisconsin to be carbon free by 2050. Read More

Just one hour later RENEW and Clean Grid Alliance held a press conference at the Capitol stating that the only way Evers’ clean energy goals could be met was by building CHC.   Read More

The following Tuesday all three commissioners gave as one of their reasons for approval that Cardinal-Hickory Creek was needed in order to achieve the goal of clean energy. Driftless Defenders, other opposition groups, and expert witnesses believe we do not need transmission lines to meet this important goal.  The better way to make us carbon free is by using local clean energy alternatives and modern storage technology, rather than building a destructive, unnecessary, outmoded line that will carry a significant amount of fossil fuel generated electricity.

We urge you to make your opinion known to Governor Evers

Governor Tony Evers
115 E State Capitol
Madison WI 53703


We Are Not Giving Up

While the PSC decision was very discouraging, it has been heartening to see that people are still engaged.  Members of Driftless Defenders and other opposition groups are making suggestions for how to proceed and offering their help.  Our  Leadership Team, in coordination with other opposition groups, is discussing ways to channel this energy.  If you have comments or ideas to share, please contact us

We hope you will continue to support Driftless Defenders in this fight to defeat Cardinal-Hickory Creek.

As Howard Learner reminds us, “We’re in this to win!  And we’re only in the third inning.”




Thanks to everyone who attended the PSC Public Hearings.  Attendance was excellent!  Almost 1,000 attendees at all sessions, and approximately 130 speakers.  Administrative Law Judge Newmark described the hearings as an “amazing experience.”  He said the testimonies were well-thought out, intelligent, and passionate, and they will definitely benefit the record.


Dodgeville PSC Public Hearing 6/27/19


Madison PSC Public Hearing 6/26/19


ALJ Michael Newmark welcomes crowd of 160 to Lancaster Public Hearing, 6/25/19.




Here are simulations of what the CHC will look like if it is built.

Simulation of towers along County Road Z, Spring Green

Simulation of towers in residential area in Mt. Horeb