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My wife and I live part of the year in Wisconsin, where our daughter lives, and we follow the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel online. A recent MJS article describes approval of a new electric transmission line which will bring low cost wind energy from Iowa to central Wisconsin.

The new transmission line was approved by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission on a 3-0 vote, even though two of their PSC members are appointees of ex-governor Scott Walker. The Cardinal-Hickory Creek line, to be built by American Transmission Company, will extend over 100 miles and will cost nearly $500 million. This line is in addition to the Badger Coulee transmission line, also built by ATC at a cost of nearly $600 million and placed in service in 2018. Badger Coulee carries energy 185 miles along the I-90 corridor from the wind farms in southern Minnesota.

One cannot help but be struck by the contrast in the directions of energy supply programs in Montana and the Midwest. I fully understand we are a coal producing state with mine mouth electric generation. However, I fear we will be left in the dust as Midwest utilities aggressively pursue low cost alternative energy, giving them a competitive advantage in attracting new businesses and industry.

In the meantime, Montanans are left holding our collective breath to see whether our PSC will approve the regressive demand charge proposed by our monopoly utility for rooftop solar installations. Please hold our PSC and NorthWestern Energy accountable, and help Montana join the conversion to clean, affordable energy.

Bill DeGroot

Red Lodge

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