Public hearings held regarding high-voltage lines in Wauwatosa

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MILWAUKEE -- The potential for overhead power lines in Wauwatosa has become a controversial issue, and on Tuesday, November 27th the public had the opportunity to voice their concerns during public hearings at City Hall.

Last winter, American Transmission Company, was hired by We Energies to create and build two high-voltage lines that would connect to a substation to increase current service. If built, the 138,000 volt power transmission line would string overhead along 95th Street, through County parks and along parkways.

There doesn't seem to be an issue over whether the transmission lines are needed. The lines will supply additional power to the growing medical complex and county grounds in Wauwatosa.

The company has proposed a number of potential routes. Some crossing paths with Underwood Parkway, Milwaukee’s Montessori School and now, a proposed path along Walnut Road in Wauwatosa.

"I'm opposed to number one, ruining the neighborhoods on Walnut Road and having the structures there, and the digging up of Walnut Road and placing the wires beneath," Wauwatosa Alderman Donald Birschel said.

Homeowners, local leaders and schools in both Wauwatosa and on Milwaukee's west side are fighting proposed overhead high-voltage power lines -- citing safety and esthetics. Residents and students are urging officials to consider burying these power lines instead.

"Many families are looking for parishes to bring their families into. If they drive by our parish and see these overhead lines and say 'well, we're going to drive down the road and find another,'" Patrick Hall, a member of St. Therese Church near Bluemound and 95th Street said.

The transmission company argues that overhead lines that rise 60 to 80 feet above the ground are cheaper to build, claiming underground lines could be four to seven times more expensive. The cost of the project ranges from $14 million to $40 million, depending on the options.

"Yes, there would be incurring additional costs to all utility users, including myself, but I'd rather pay the insurance and have electricity during severe weather and also have a clear mind of having good health, Ann Pendleton said.

A technical meeting between the Public Service Commission and American Transmission Company were held at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, November 27th at City Hall. Public hearings were slated for 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.