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Great Lakes Article:

Sawyer County Board reaffirms opposition to 345KV power line

By Terrell Boettcher Sawyer County Record

At its February 21 meeting, the Sawyer County Board of Supervisors reaffirmed a stance that the board originally took 2 1/2 years ago, by voting to oppose and protest the Arrowhead to Weston power line.

In September, 1999, when the board voted 14-1 to oppose the line, the 345,000 volt line had not yet been approved. Last August, the state Public Service Commission approved the line, which Minnesota Power of

Duluth (Allete) and Wisconsin Public Service

Corporation of Green Bay say will improve the reliability of the electric grid serving Wisconsin.

The 250-mile line between Duluth and Wausau will cross portions of the Towns of Bass Lake, Sand Lake,

Couderay,Meteor and Weirgor.

Save Our Unique Lands (SOUL), an organization of private land owners opposing the line, asked the Sawyer County Board to take the same action that a Douglas County committee did last month when it denied the companies the right to survey along the route on county-owned land. But in Sawyer County,apparently none of the proposed corridor is on county-owned land, said board member Shirley Suhsen.

Jim Bassett said he was "really shocked that they are taking (the line) between Whitefish Lake and Sand Lake, one of the most highly-populated and high-value property areas in the county. You know it's going to devastate certain properties."

Hal Helwig said one reason the companies say they chose that route is because an existing highline and pipeline run through there. But "there's a lot to be suspicious about," he added. "It's a crazy thing, no question about it."

Ray Silack said a company representative told him it's cheaper to build a second line than to add on to the existing line.

Don Trettin, through whose property an Xcel Energy 161-KV line runs, said that "when your property gets devalued (by a power line), you cannot use that property (power company easement for the line) for anything other than a parking lot. You can't build on it. There are no tax breaks----it's full value and you pay the same taxes as if the power line wasn't there."

Bassett said the power company "will pay for the trees" that are removed, but nothing more. "Sawyer County taxpayers whose property this line crosses will lose financially," he said. "This is a private, for-profit company which in the end has the right of eminent domain. There's something wrong there."

Helwig added that "There is something wrong with the State of Wisconsin. If they would allow for the development and expansion of our own power plants in the state, we wouldn't have this (problem)."

The motion was approved unanimously on a voice vote.

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