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Power Line Decision Put Off for Now

A 60-day delay in the state hearing process means that Wauwatosa has a little more breathing room to find a consensus decision on final route.

No decision on a recommended route for will be taken Tuesday night, the city attorney said Monday.

An unexpected 60-day delay in the hearing process before the Wisconsin Public Service Commission means that the city has until October to decide how to respond to , said City Attorney Alan Kesner.

Kesner and some aldermen had been pushing for a consensus recommendation on a route down Walnut Road, opposed by most residents of that neighborhood.

But the delay has given the city more time to consult with engineers about possible alternative routes or modifications to that route, Kesner said.

With that, Tuesday night's hearing before a meeting of the Common Council's Committee of the Whole, at 6:30 p.m., becomes more of another listening session, Kesner said. The power line question is not on the agenda of the full, regular council meeting, which follows at 7:30 p.m.

Kesner had asked for a council resolution . That was as opposed to the line being buried in the city and utility right-of-way under the front lawns of residents on the north side of the street, which would have caused permanent loss of trees.

Neighbors were still unhappy, though, about the part of the plan that calls for new "drop structures" much closer to Walnut Road and to neighbors' properties, that would bring the lines down from overhead towers at 120th Street.

Kesner said he would offer some alternatives Tuesday that might help address those concerns, although, he said, engineer's responses to those ideas were not yet definitive.

The added time will allow for more exploration of alternatives, Kesner said. But eventually, the city needs to make a recommendation that is in line with other "intervenors" including Milwaukee County.

The city and county have gone on record with resolutions opposing any route that involves overhead lines, anywhere. Wauwatosa in its resolution also opposed a route along Walnut Road that involved burying the 138,000-volt line in residents' front yards.

That resolution also specifically mentioned as objectionable the new drop structures, towers that would be highly visible from Walnut Road and that would encroach on homeowners' property lines.

We Energies has said that the new power line, one of two proposed to serve the County Grounds area, is necessary because increasing demands will overtax the existing power feed to critical users such as the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center by 2015.

We Energies contracted with American Transmission Co. to study, propose, design and build two new power routes into the area, one from the south and one from the west, to provide redundancy.

ATC came back last year with two alternatives, one of them the Walnut Road route buried under the public right-of-way, the other overhead on towers that would be built along more than a mile of Underwood Creek Parkway.

Groups in both areas strongly opposed those alternatives and prompted the city to seek other options.

Dennis Bell July 17, 2012 at 03:29 AM
What is a drop structure, please? Thanks, Dennis
Dennis Bell July 17, 2012 at 03:29 AM
Nice
Christine McLaughlin July 17, 2012 at 01:13 PM
Dennis, drop structures are poles or towers that carry the power above ground before it can be dropped to buried lines.
Jim Price July 17, 2012 at 01:39 PM
Specifically, two more towers would be added nearer to Walnut Road at 120th St. under the current proposal. One existing transmission tower that is probably close to 100 feet tall – the one in the right foreground in the picture accompanying this story – would be replaced where it stands, with a new tower of about the same height. Then the 138k-volt line would be brought down from it to a new tower in the neighborhood of 65 feet tall, and from there to another about 35 feet tall. From that height, the line can be dropped to the ground to begin the underground route. These two additional towers would, from the point of view in the picture, taken looking north from the north side of Walnut Road, come closer to the street and to the property of the first homeowner to the east.

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