BRIGHTON — Residents here voiced opposition Monday to what they consider an unnecessarily destructive path through their community for a We Energies pipeline to benefit Foxconn.
The utility is considering two route options to bring natural gas from Whitewater to the edge of the planned development in Mount Pleasant.
Don Bruessel, an engineering manager for We Energies, said the 49-mile project is needed to meet a projected shortage of natural gas in this service area in 2021. He said the project timeline was accelerated in part because of Wisconsin Department of Transportation roadwork projects associated with Foxconn.
Critics at Monday’s meeting claimed that the project was moving forward only because of Foxconn. “I’m not denying it’s for Foxconn,” Bruessel said in response — but not only that, he asserted. “It is really to provide service for the growth that is happening in the area.”
The proposed Kenosha County route leads from the Burlington area through farmland to Highway B (288th Avenue) in Brighton, north to First Street and east to an area just west of Interstate 94.
Along the route the pipeline would run through about 200 properties, including dozens in Brighton and Paris. The project calls for clearing at least 20 feet of right of way through residential properties.
“This is going to be in my front yard and take out buildings,” said resident Jane Soderquist, who lives along the proposed route.
The other route runs through Racine County.
“Put it in Racine County,” Soderquist, said. “This is their baby.”
The project is projected to cost $175 million to $183 million, to be paid by utility ratepayers. The route through Kenosha County is the less expensive of the two routes.
Dale Daniels said it would be less destructive and less expensive if We Energies ran its pipeline along the existing ANR pipeline easement that runs through his property.
“Why disrupt everyone else?” Daniels questioned. “The easement is there. There is nothing in the way.”
The ANR pipelines, installed in the 1950s, run also run through Bong State Recreation Area. Several residents said it makes more sense to run the pipeline through government land.
Routes being studied
Bruessel said We Energies is studying the two routes, taking soil samples, surveying and looking at wetland and archaeological issues.
The routes will ultimately be modified to ensure “the least impact to the community and the environment.”
“All of those route alternatives are being looked at,” Bruessel said, adding that there have been discussions with representatives from the state Department of Natural Resources about wetlands.
Open house meetings are scheduled to be held July 10-12 at a yet-to-be-determined location. Bruessel said We Energies plans to submit its final route proposals to the Public Service Commission by November.
The PSC will make a decision on the project by fall 2019. If approved, construction would begin in 2020, with completion in 2021.
More information about the project can be found on the PSC website, https://psc.wi.gov/, by searching docket number 6630-CG-137.