News Briefs


Cardinal-Hickory Creek Completion Date Set

Construction on the final segment of the Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line is now underway. Dairyland Power Cooperative announced that the 102-mile, 345-kV line, which runs from Middleton to Dubuque, will be fully in service on September 27, 2024.

“This is great news. It’s been a battle for almost a decade, and we’re at the end of the road here, and excited to bring in all the renewable energy from Iowa through this system,” Dairyland President and CEO Brent Ridge said at the co-op’s annual meeting in June.

In May, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service completed a land trade, clearing the way for construction of the final 1.2 miles of line. Dairyland, ITC Midwest, and ATC are co-owners of the Cardinal-Hickory Creek project.

Scammers Posing as PSC

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) are warning Wisconsin residents about scammers posing as representatives from the PSC.

Using a tactic called “spoofing,” the scammers alter their caller ID, email address, or other form of contact identification to infer the contact is coming from the PSC in an attempt to persuade people to trust a fraudulent message. The caller or emailer then threatens to disconnect utility services and demands payment.

The PSC says it will never call with disconnection threats, demands for payment, or requests for personal information.

Wisconsin’s Tornado Count Hits 23

The National Weather Service has confirmed 23 tornadoes have hit the state so far this year, already tying the state’s full-year tornado average. On May 21 alone, severe weather spawned 16 twisters, including the first on record for Washington Island. Electric co-ops reported 13,000 members without power following the May 21 storms.

The severe weather caused downed trees, snapped poles, and, in some cases, widespread damage. One fatality was reported when a Fond du Lac man contracted to assist Washington Island Electric Cooperative with fiber optics installation died following contact with a live wire.

The first tornadoes of 2024 hit on February 8, marking the earliest on record. All of the 2024 tornadoes were classified as EF-0 or EF-1, except for one EF-2 in February.

PSC Approves Electric Co-op Grant Applications

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) announced grant awardees for the Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships (GRIP) program, and all 14 applications submitted by 12 Wisconsin electric co-ops were approved.

The grant program, funded by the Infrastructure, Jobs, and Reinvestment Act (IIJA), funds projects that improve grid reliability. Wisconsin was awarded $10.24 million, and WECA lobbied for the PSC to prioritize smaller utilities in granting the funds, as large capital investment requirements exclude them from many other grant programs.

The PSC awards are subject to a final sign-off by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Co-op Attorney Retires after Nearly Five Decades

Attorney Niles Berman marked his last Wisconsin electric cooperative annual meeting before retirement at Adams-Columbia Electric Cooperative on May 11.

“My entire practice of law, for going on 49 years now, was representing the rural electric cooperatives in Wisconsin, and it’s been an absolute labor of love,” Berman said.

Adams-Columbia honored Berman and thanked him for more than four decades of legal representation for the co-op.

Oconto Youth Awarded Van Sickle Scholarship

Ember DeWitt of Oconto Electric Cooperative is the recipient of this year’s Charles Van Sickle Scholarship from the Federated Youth Foundation (FYF). DeWitt attends the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and intends to go to law school. She has a 3.68 GPA. This year’s scholarship is $2,722.67.

Upon hearing the news she won the scholarship, DeWitt said, “I would describe my reaction when I got the news as grateful, validating, relief, and elation.”

DeWitt has yet to decide what area of law to pursue, but says she is interested in cooperative law. Her goal is to attend law school at Marquette University or UW-Madison after graduation. She also volunteers with organizations on campus and in the community.

Polk-Burnett Lineworker Retires After 53 Years

Polk Burnett Electric Cooperative lineworker Dennis Vollrath, also known as “the legend,” retired in May after 53 years with the co-op.

Vollrath started at Polk-Burnett in the spring of 1971 as a truck driver and groundman and was quickly promoted to apprentice. He worked on the co-op’s southern crew for the past 47 years, where he earned a reputation as a capable, hard-working lineman, trusted by his team.

Vollrath and his wife, Wendy, have seven children, many grandchildren, and have cared for foster children during their years together. Retirement plans include camping, four-wheeling, and snowmobiling.