The Badger Coulee transmission line, which electrically connects the Dane County area with La Crosse County area in Wisconsin, is energized and now part of an integrated electric system serving customers in the region.
The line will help ensure reliable electricity for the region and provide access to lower-cost power and renewable energy. It is part of a portfolio of projects that will help enable the delivery of 25 GW of renewable energy. A 20-mile portion of the project in Dane County was placed in service in 2017.
“Xcel Energy is committed to making investments to deliver safe, reliable and affordable electricity to our customers for decades to come,” said Michael Lamb, Xcel Energy Senior Vice President, Transmission. “This new transmission line opens up additional pathways for carbon-free energy including allowing wind and solar to enter the grid.”
The project was included in a group of 17 Multi-Value Projects designated by the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, which oversees the electric grid in the region. These projects are expected to create $12.1 billion to $52.6 billion in net economic benefits over the next 20 to 40 years and enable 41 million megawatt hours per year of wind generation, which could meet the electric needs of approximately 4 million homes.
“This line is a vital link in the integrated network of MISO multi-value transmission projects," said Clean Grid Alliance Executive Director Beth Soholt. "Completion of this line not only enables the delivery of thousands of megawatts of clean, low-cost wind power, it will also reduce congestion in the MISO energy market, and add to the reliability of the overall MISO grid.”
This 180-mile, 345,000-V transmission line was approved by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin in April 2015 and construction activities began in 2016. There was significant economic impact of jobs and worker spending in local communities during construction.
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2150 Assistant Business Manager Jay Allen noted that approximately 90 percent of the 300 Badger Coulee workers from their union live in Wisconsin.“These jobs provide excellent wages and benefits to our members,” said Allen. “A project such as Badger Coulee has a large economic impact on the local communities. A number of the workers on this project stayed in motels and ate in restaurants near the construction site of the transmission line. Other local businesses that benefited from the project include, campgrounds, department stores and hardware stores.”
“We appreciate the cooperation of area residents and the public as we worked on this project beginning with public involvement in 2010 to completing construction this year,” said American Transmission Co. Director of Environmental and Local Relations Gregory Levesque. “We will be continuing restoration work on portions of the project next year. The ATC environmental department also will continue periodic monitoring through 2023 in the right-of-way to evaluate restoration, revegetation, erosion control and invasive species in certain areas as required by state and federal permits.”
Project maps and additional information are available at www.badgercoulee.com.