Dubuque County residents plan to provide 'resistance' to proposed transmission line

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DUBUQUE COUNTY, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- A proposed transmission line would cut through miles of Dubuque County, including family owned farmland.

Dubuque County residents oppose a proposed transmission line that would cost $500 million. (Charlie Grant, KCRG-TV9)

 The Cardinal-Hickory Creek Transmission Line would run 120 miles and carry 345-kilovolts from Dubuque to Dane County, Wisconsin.

It's a project that American Transmission Company (ATC), ITC and Dairyland Power Cooperative are working on together.

In an email, ITC spokesperson Rod Pritchard said the project, "will help improve electric system reliability, support access to renewable energy sources and provide economic savings to utility customers in the region." It will cost approximately $500 million and would be completed in 2023.

However, some people in Dubuque County are skeptical that the project will provide any benefits.

Dairy farmer Mike Deutmeyer first found out about the Cardinal-Hickory Creek project a couple of years ago, but it wasn't until recently that he realized his farm land would be directly impacted with towers built on a portion of the land.

He worries this would cause health problems for his family and cattle.

"There could be a human health issue with this big of a line," he said. "There’s a lot of volts going through there.

He added, “we are a dairy farm and anything that would affect cattle is going to be detrimental to my future.”

Deutmeyer also thinks about how hard his father and grandfather had to work to pay for this farm; it's not something he wants to give away.

"They fought a lot to keep it in the family, you know, and I don’t want to be the one to give any of it up for no reason," he said while looking onto the land.

He said other farmers in the area have similar fears and feel helpless.

"Everybody’s afraid that they’re going to condemn our property, take it through eminent domain, and, you know, I hope that we can kind of come together as a group of landowners and try to change something," he said.

Dubuque County resident Dena Kurt opposed the construction of the line because she believes it costs too much.

She said, "if you’re a 10 year old today, you’ll be 50 by the time you pay off the debt for this line. If you’re 60, you’ll be dead.”

Pritchard said the average electric customer could see an annual cost of $12 per year and an annual savings of $33 per year based on the investment on all multi-value projects (MVPs) in the upper Midwest.

He said, "transmission expansion creates economic benefits during construction, after the line is placed in service, and from the taxes and fees derived from the project."

The Dubuque County Supervisors will discuss a resolution on Monday that requests the Iowa Utility Board to learn more about this project before approval.

Supervisor Jay Wickham said there are many questions that need to be answered. "Why is this needed and why are the property owners in Dubuque County being asked to have these large towers put on their property," Wickham asked.

"I have not seen that ITC has built the case for the need for this project," he said. "So I think we need more information and we need more justification from ITC that this project will help the community and ultimately provide better service for utilities and possibly at a lower cost, and they haven’t made that case.”

Deutmeyer plans to fight this.

He said, "I’m going to provide as much resistance as I possibly can.”