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PSC denies request to build underground power lines

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin approved the joint application of Wisconsin Electric Power Company and the American Transmission Company for construction on two 138 kV electric transmission lines.

"The cost difference between the suggested above-ground transmission routes compared to the cost of all-underground routes in this case is a difference approximately $35 to $50 million, or a total cost of $11.6 M with no undergrounding vs. a total cost of $45.5-$61.5 M with all undergrounding," said the P.S.C. in a written statement.

Although PSC said the decision was made to protect ratepayers from "undue costs of underground," many residents are upset by its decision.

"If anybody who voted for this would like to buy the house for what I paid for it because I'm overreacting I'll draw up the papers this week," said Neil Slough, who lives across the street from Milwaukee's Montessori school, the area where the above ground power lines would stand. Slough fears his property values will plummet.

"I guess I"m just one of the taxpayers that doesn't get the benefit," said Slough.

"What's the negative impact on the values of losing property value of homes, decreasing in value, closing schools. they didn't take that into consideration," said Milwaukee alderman Michael Murphy.

Murphy said neighbors in both Milwaukee and Wauwatosa came to a consensus of wanting the lines to be built underground, but that request was denied by the P.S.C.

"It's a reasonable compromise and they ignored it," added Murphy.

Murphy says the next step is appealing this decision to the courts. He and others who oppose the above ground lines question where the P.S.C followed the open meetings law.