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WI Landowners Join ANR in Fighting Guardian

WI Landowners Join ANR in Fighting Guardian

ANR Pipeline has picked up landowner support for its suit against the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) that charges the PSC unlawfully kept secret filings made by Wisconsin Gas for its competing Guardian Pipeline.

Neighbors Standing United is a group of Wisconsin 160 landowners along the proposed Guardian route petitioning Wisconsin Circuit Court to intervene in ANR's suit against the PSC. The landowners, led by Weenonah Brattset, own anywhere from one acre to 1,000 acres, Brattset said. "Every single landowner in our group is prepared to take this all the way through the courts to condemnation. If this [Guardian] pipeline is permitted, we would go in and appeal our property tax assessments be reduced to reflect the decrease in the value of our lands because of the pipeline."

Brattset said her group feels Guardian is unnecessary because the area already has pipeline infrastructure, namely ANR's. She and Neighbors Standing also question who would end up paying for Guardian. Their bet is it would be ratepayers.

Last month ANR filed suit against the PSC in Dane County, WI, Circuit Court (See Daily GPI July 26, 1999). ANR wants the court to reverse and set aside PSC orders conditionally approving Guardian. ANR seeks remanding of the case and the opportunity to intervene in a contested case hearing.

Guardian would be a 147-mile interstate from the Chicago hub to Watertown, WI. Wisconsin Gas is proposing a 35-mile lateral to connect its system to Guardian in the Milwaukee area. The pipeline, which would compete against ANR, is expected to cost $230 million and the lateral $45 million. Wisconsin Gas would own 30% of the pipeline and 100% of the lateral. Guardian owned by Wisconsin Gas parent WICOR, CMS Energy, and Viking Gas Transmission .

Brattset said her group was formed about two years ago to oppose the then prospective Viking Voyageur pipeline. "We have just kind of stayed in touch ever since expecting something like this," she said. The group doesn't have much of a war chest, she said, but is planning to build one up. "We are beginning again."

Wisconsin gas spokesman Dave Fantle said his company's position on Guardian has not changed. "The route is still not cast in stone. We've had very proactive communication as it pertains to the landowners, public officials and the news media."

Wisconsin gas has a precedent agreement with Guardian for 650 MMcf/d of firm capacity that would displace capacity held by Wisconsin Gas on ANR. ANR maintains it can more cheaply build any new capacity needed to meet the needs of Wisconsin Gas and others in Wisconsin.

ANR says the cost of the redundant Guardian and the lateral would be unfairly borne by ratepayers, to the tune of $175 million over 10 years. Wisconsin Gas says the project would save ratepayers $100 million over its first 10 years. ANR says the project would result in "significant, unnecessary environmental disturbances and landowner disruption."

The PSC refused to allow ANR to participate in Guardian proceedings, denied ANR access to documents and secretly conditionally approved the precedent agreement "based on self-serving conclusory statements by WGC concerning the benefits of the Guardian Project," ANR says.

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