Approved electricity line proposal to bring wind energy from Iowa to Illinois

Source: Associated Press • Posted: Monday, December 1, 2014

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois Commerce Commission has approved plans to build an electricity line designed to bring wind energy from Iowa to the state.

The panel unanimously OK’d the Rock Island Clean Line proposal Tuesday, ending a two-year review of the project, The (Moline) Dispatch and Sauk Valley media reported.

“The ICC approval is a great step forward for the Rock Island Clean Line project and brings Illinois one step closer to creating a cleaner energy future,” said Michael Skelly, president of Clean Line Energy Partners LLC.

The route would take the line from Iowa through Rock Island, Whiteside, Henry, Bureau, LaSalle and Kendall counties to a $300 million converter station in Grundy County.

Clean Line officials say the line is expected to deliver 3,500 megawatts of wind power. The company is still seeking permission for its project from the Iowa Utilities Board to run the line through Iowa. They hope to have that approval next year.

Some landowners have opposed the Clean Line project, arguing that it could disrupt land used for agriculture. They also worry the company could use eminent domain authority to access land against farmers’ wishes.

But the ICC’s approval doesn’t grant the authority for the company to use eminent domain, which the company said it hasn’t requested.

Mary Mauch, LaSalle County landowner and co-founder of Block RICL, told The Dispatch she’s still concerned Clean Line officials could still seek the authority, calling the project an “unprecedented assault on the constitutional rights of landowners.”

Other property owners have already signed easement agreements with Clean Line.

Clean Line officials say landowners will receive between $7,500 and $10,800 in a one-time payment for each acre the line runs through.

Several organizations, such as the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, support the project.