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Alternative power line plans proposed for Upper Peninsula

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A variety of power line alternatives have emerged to supply electricity to Michigan's Upper Peninsula, providing competition to a plan sought by American Transmission Co.
Power line plans are being drawn up that would extend to the Upper Peninsula from Green Bay, Wausau, Eau Claire and Duluth, Minn., as well as from Michigan's lower peninsula.
The power line alternatives were unveiled at a committee meeting of the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator, the Indiana-based overseer of the region's power grid.
American Transmission last year proposed $1 billion in new transmission lines to serve northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula, after a blackout in May left much of the peninsula in the dark for up to 10 hours.
Also driving the plan: the possible shutdown of We Energies' coal-fired power plant in Marquette, Mich. American Transmission was seeking expedited approval for the lines from the Midwest ISO.
We Energies and Wolverine Power Cooperative of Michigan are studying the possibility of keeping open the Marquette power plant, known as Presque Isle, by adding environmental controls that Wolverine would pay for.
As a result, consumer and environmental groups said the Midwest group shouldn't rush its review of the American Transmission proposals.
In light of the new alternatives, the Midwest ISO has now decided not to review the American Transmission proposal on a fast track, according to a presentation the organization's planners made Tuesday.
The Midwest ISO said it shares American Transmission's reliability concerns but said it needs to review the company's plans in conjunction with the alternative proposals that have arisen.
Among the alternatives are proposals by Xcel Energy of Eau Claire to build a line north from Eau Claire to Park Falls and then to the Upper Peninsula.


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