Wind In The Willows, But The Power Lines Are In Wisconsin

A number of interesting stories have popped up recently about new developments on a controversial power line that would run from Iowa through the Driftless Area in Wisconsin to Madison. Check out some of the background noise: here and here.

Of course environmentalists oppose the power line on principal and that isn’t unexpected. But the Driftless Area is truly an amazing part of Wisconsin and I can’t imagine too many residents of the area would want it bisected by a massive power line either. But I don’t know how much clout individuals will have over the moneyed power brokers (pun intended) and their influence with Wisconsin government. This really hasn’t gotten much public traction yet.

And there is the issue of the need for the power line…apparently demand for power isn’t growing as fast as sources of power and Wisconsin has plenty of electricity for the foreseeable future. So we really don’t even need the extra power that this transmission line would bring to Wisconsin…EXCEPT

there is increased interest in green power or renewable power and this transmission line would bring wind power generated in Iowa to the Madison area!

Advocates for more renewable power say shifting to wind requires bigger transmission systems to move power around.

Wisconsin received 3.4% of its electricity from wind last year — up from 2.6% in 2015, according to PSC documents.

But the mix of wind is expected to grow.

With more wind turbines in development in Iowa and elsewhere, and the price of wind power falling, “we are seeing a pretty quick transition in the Midwest and a pretty big increase in wind,” said Tyler Huebner, executive director of Renew Wisconsin.

“We need a more robust system to take advantage of it.”

Which begs the question…wouldn’t we be better served by building wind mills here to generate electricity? Wouldn’t those jobs and revenues and taxes and so on be better if located in Wisconsin? The wind might be better in a plains state like Iowa but Wisconsin is hardly a windless vista. It gets plenty windy here too.

So why aren’t we building wind mills here? We have the manufacturing expertise. We have enough open land. We have enough skilled workers. We already have companies that build towers and rebuild worn generation equipment.

And we have a governor opposed to renewables and wind power in particular. It is really really time that Wisconsin stepped up to the 21st Century and generated it’s own renewables and stopped ‘outsourcing’ green power to the neighbors. We aren’t making any sense on this one.


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