An environmental assessment estimates the cost of a proposed high-voltage power line linking Madison and La Crosse at up to $580 million.
The power line would be built by American Transmission Co. of Pewaukee and Xcel Energy's Northern States Power utility in Eau Claire. About $87 million of the line's cost would be paid for by utility customers.
The line would connect with the CapX2020 powerline being consxtructed now between Rochester and La Crosse on the Wisconsin side of the river.
The Journal Sentinel reports the utilities say the line would give the state a more robust electrical system as coal plants are retired. But, critics question whether the project is needed, because sales of electricity have been flat in recent years.
The draft environmental assessment kicks off the public comment period for the proposed line.