Illinois Clean Line Wind Energy Transmission Project Moves Forward

Source: Marcia Lense • KWQC • Posted: Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A renewable energy project is taking shape and raising hope for a big economic boost for the state of Illinois and the Quad Cities. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn announced Tuesday that the wind energy project, called the Rock Island Clean Line, has taken a step forward with an agreement between it and the Southwire Co., which has a facility in Flora, Illinois. Together, they will build transmission lines connecting power from wind turbines in the Midwest and delivering it to Illinois and onto the east.

“We have to have that energy to power 21st century modern life in Illinois and across our country. But we have to do this in a way that’s generated as friendly as possible to the environment,” announced Quinn.

Quinn says the project will create 1,450 construction jobs over three years and generate $7 billion in investments into wind energy companies.

The Rock Island Clean Line project runs 500 miles and runs right through the Quad Cities. It will link wind energy from windier states like Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Iowa to Illinois and the east coast. The transmission route will make a huge impact throughout the Midwest and for counties along it.

“That’s probably the best thing to do to get the power where it needs to be,” says Rock Island County Board Chairman Jim Bohnsack. “It definitely is going to be generating revenue for us, good revenue that we need.”

The $1.7 billion project will be paid for by Clean Line Energy Partners, the company running the project. It means counties will be collecting property taxes on any land the project uses.

“It’s a great way of generating money. As a county, we are taxed out at our max, so something like that comes along that will actually lower property taxes. So it’s really good for all of us,” Bohnsack added.

It’s unclear just how much local counties would stand to gain, but studies have found wind energy has generated $22.2 million dollars in extra tax revenue for Illinois. It will also help out local farmers, who agree to lease their land for the project.

As for the average citizen, it may lower energy rates with more competition in the market. Then, there are the environmental benefits. Clean Line says the project will take ten million tons of pollution out of the air annually. That’s equivalent to taking almost 2 million cars off the road each year.

“It’s a long ways off. You may not hear anything about for another six months or a year, but it’s gonna happen,” said Bohnsack.