News Briefs


Cardinal-Hickory Creek Line Clears Legal Hurdle

A Dane County judge has rejected a legal challenge to the Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line project. In a 30-page written ruling, Circuit Court Judge Jacob Frost upheld the Public Service Commission’s (PSC) 2019 decision to grant a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) to the Dairyland Power Cooperative, American Transmission Company (ATC), and ITC Midwest, which are constructing the 102-mile, 345,000-volt line that will run from Middleton to Dubuque, Iowa.

Opponents of the project say they are reviewing the judge’s ruling and considering an appeal.

The project still faces a challenge in federal court.

Construction of the Cardinal-Hickory Creek line is underway and expected to be complete by December 2023.

Riverland Announces New CEO

The Riverland Energy Cooperative board has promoted Tim Holtan to serve as the co-op’s next CEO, effective May 1, 2023. Holtan fills the vacancy left when former General Manager Jerry Sorenson retired in
December 2022.

Holtan has been with Riverland since 1988, serving as lineman, line superintendent, and most recently as the manager of operations and interim CEO.


WECA’s Richard to Lead FYF

WECA Director of Government Relations Rob Richard has been named the new executive director of the Federated Youth Foundation (FYF), which manages a trust that supports various community and youth organizations. Richard takes over the role previously held by Ethan Giebel.



Great River Energy to Test Iron-Air Battery

Minnesota-based Great River Energy (GRE) is partnering with Form Energy of Massachusetts to test a new type of long-duration battery storage that could be a “game-changer,” according to GRE.

The co-op is building the nation’s first iron-air beta-test battery at its peaking plant in Cambridge, Minnesota. If it works as expected, it would be able to discharge more than 100 hours of power, compared to lithium iron, which can only store four hours.

The option for long-duration battery power would improve reliability by allowing utilities to plan for severe weather, such as extreme cold, when intermittent resources are not available.

EPA Proposes Crackdown on Power Plant Emissions

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has rolled out an ambitious new rule that, if implemented, will have a major impact on the future of the nation’s coal and natural gas plants, which are the main source of baseload power in Wisconsin, the MISO region, and much of the nation.

The proposal requires that all coal-fired power plants, most new gas plants, and all large existing gas units that run consistently capture carbon pollution before it enters the atmosphere. Carbon capture technology is not currently used at any power plant in the nation.

The rule is expected to expedite the transition to more clean energy by forcing or expediting the closure of coal and natural gas plants. As a presidential candidate, Biden promised to cut the economy’s carbon emissions in half by 2030, compared with 2005.

Opponents expect the rule will be challenged in court.

Temporary Storage Site Licensed for Spent Nuclear Fuel

U.S. nuclear regulators have licensed a private company in southeastern New Mexico to “temporarily” store tons of spent nuclear fuel from commercial power plants around the nation. The company, Holtec International, has spent an estimated $80 million over eight years pursuing the 40-year license to build and operate the facility, but there is adamant opposition from residents and politicians in the state.

Earlier this year the Biden Administration offered up $26 million in grants for communities interested in studying the potential of hosting interim storage of spent nuclear fuel.

A Gallup survey in April found 55% of U.S. adults support the use of nuclear power, up 4% from last year.

Dairyland Explores Pumped Storage Hydropower

Dairyland Power Cooperative has announced it is collaborating with Mine Storage International and Michigan Tech University (MTU) to look into the potential for carbon-free pumped storage hydro in the region.

The generation and transmission cooperative will be evaluating the development of underground pumped hydro at closed mines, which it says is an opportunity that supports grid reliability and renewable energy generation, while repurposing retired industrial sites in an innovative way.

WECA Urges Support for Large-Scale Data Centers

WECA has joined a coalition of organizations representing Wisconsin businesses, workers, and energy providers in urging lawmakers to sign on to support a bill aimed at attracting large-scale data
centers to Wisconsin.

Representative Shannon Zimmerman (R-River Falls) and Senator Romaine Quinn (R-Rice Lake) have authored a bill that would align Wisconsin with the more than 30 other states that offer a tax exemption on data center equipment to attract the development of data centers, which are major power users.

According to a 2022 Mangum Economics Report, since the state of Illinois enacted its data center program in 2019, it has brought in more than $4.2 billion in new data center investment, plus thousands of construction jobs.