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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The three utility companies planning a high-powered transmission line from the Madison area to Iowa have picked a preferred route that runs along existing highway and power line corridors rather than farms and fields.

The proposed 345-kilovolt Cardinal-Hickory Creek line would run along Highway 18-151 from the Cardinal electrical substation in Middleton, go west from Dodgeville to Montfort, head southwest to Cassville and then move south to the Hickory Creek substation near Dubuque, Iowa, the Wisconsin State Journal reported .

“The project team worked to identify options that would largely follow existing transmission lines and highways while balancing factors such as environmental impacts, engineering and constructability,” said Gregory Levesque, director of environmental and local relations for American Transmission Co.

American Transmission Co., ITC Midwest and Dairyland Power Cooperative are working together on the $500 million project.

The preferred route is more than 100 miles long, while an alternate route would add 20 miles to the line, said Kaya Freiman, an ATC spokeswoman.

The project will improve the electric system’s reliability, provide economic benefits to utilities and consumers and support renewable energy, said the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, the regional electric grid operator.

Opponents argue that the line and its tall towers would damage important conservation areas.

“The proposed route runs right through the Military Ridge Prairie Heritage Area’s prime conservation and park lands which have been identified as ‘the highest priority for landscape-scale grassland protection and management in Wisconsin’ by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources,” said Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center, of Chicago and Madison.

The Dane County Board voted against the transmission line last week, while the Iowa County board voted against it last year.

Applications to public utility commissions in both states are pending.


Information from: Wisconsin State Journal,