Bayfield Peninsula Energy Alternatives (BPEA) is a group of citizens that includes representation from the Towns of Barksdale, Bayfield, Bayview, Eileen and Washburn. We are volunteering our time to study this project, in order to shape the decision of how best to meet the needs of the Bayfield Peninsula for generation and transmission of electricity. We are focusing on several aspects of the issue:
- Is there a viable alternative to running a 64-foot second set of power poles along a new stretch of right-of-way requiring clearing 50 ft. of property?
- Is there a possibility of utilizing 21st century technology that would allow for something other than above ground transmission lines?
- If it is necessary to have transmission lines, what are the options for routing the line so that it has the least effect on private property owners, does not disturb sensitive land such as trout streams, and maintains the natural beauty of our landscape?
- Is there a renewable source of energy generation for Bayfield Peninsula?
What Got Us Going
The impetus for this group came from a relatively small group of concerned citizens responding to Xcel Energy’s Bayfield Second Circuit Transmission Project after they received a brief flyer in the mail from Xcel to those who live on the proposed line. In late August, 2017, we became aware that Xcel was making a request to the Bayfield County Board on August 29, 2017 to grant them easement for a transmission line that would run through 7.5 acres of County forest land. We had only a few days’ notice about this meeting and we quickly got the word out to our friends and neighbors that it would be important to go to that meeting to express our concerns. There were 20+ people in the audience that night and many made comments to the Board during the Public Comment part of the meeting. Xcel Energy had a public meeting planned the following day in the City of Washburn, after this Board meeting requesting approval of the easement through County Forest land.
The primary message was a plea to the Board to delay the approval of Xcel’s request for easement until we have time to understand the project and make public comments. The result was a delay in the decision until the next meeting Bayfield County Board meeting on September 19, 2017.
The concern was this: Xcel had not provided adequate notice or information for citizen input on this new transmission line and it appeared to be on a fast-track for approval by the County. Approval by the County would have allowed Xcel to go ahead and submit their plan to the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC), effectively making it difficult for the local governmental bodies and citizens to have any say in the project before it went to the PSC. Not only did we not understand the project, but we hadn’t been given time to formulate questions and concerns around the fact that a 25-mile right-of-way was going to be carved through our townships and literally our yards.
BPEA is communicating regularly with representatives from Xcel Energy, Town governments, the County Board and Cheq Bay Renewables in order to come up with the best solution for meeting the needs for reliable, clean energy for the Bayfield Peninsula and surrounding areas.
All meetings are open to the public and we need other concerned citizens to help us with this effort. We use our website to convey information to anyone interested in this project.