Deal with Ill. cable plant to bring 1,450 jobs

CBS Market Watch • Posted: Wednesday, March 7, 2012

CHICAGO — A deal between Southwire Company and energy company Clean Line Energy Partners LLC is expected to create 1,450 jobs in Illinois and boost wind energy projects.

Georgia-based Southwire, which has a plant in Flora, Ill., and Houston-based Clean Line Energy Partners, said the Illinois plant has agreed to manufacture 500 miles of overhead transmission cable for a grid designed to harness wind energy.

The Rock Island Clean Line Transmission Project, which will start in northwest Iowa and end in Morris, Ill., is expected to deliver 3,500 megawatts of renewable energy from states with good wind resources — Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota — to Illinois and other states to the east. The project is expected to cost nearly $2 billion.

“Illinois is really the combination of resources, infrastructure and leadership around renewable energy,” Michael Skelly, president of Clean Line, said during a Chicago conference on wind energy.

However, the benefits — developing renewable energy and potentially lowering utility costs in Chicago — are several years away.

Construction could begin as early as 2014 for the three-year labor agreement. Officials with Clean Line need to sell the idea to landowners and communities affected by the construction.

The Flora plant has more than 100 employees; the deal creates union construction jobs.

Gov. Pat Quinn said the line will provide new infrastructure that’s needed to increase.

“We’ve grown this whole industry in less than a decade and we’ve only just begun,” he said of efforts in Illinois.