Library filed under Transmission from Illinois
William Shay, the lead attorney for the alliance, said the court agreed with the Illinois Landowners Alliance, Farm Bureau and ComEd on the definition of public utility. "The Court noted that nothing stops Rock Island (Clean Line) from seeking to develop its project as a private facility, but it will not have public utility status, including the right to condemn landowner easements through eminent domain," he added.
Rock Island Clean Line withdrew its petition Thursday seeking permission from the Iowa Utilities Board to build an electric transmission line across Iowa — a move that the project's opponents hailed as a victory for state landowners.
The energy company has faced 4 years of fierce legal opposition led by the Illinois Landowners Alliance, the Illinois Farm Bureau, and ComEd. Clean Line Energy learned Nov. 23 of the high court’s decision to review the appellate court’s ruling. The company maintains that the project would bring low-cost clean energy, hundreds of good jobs, and revenue for communities in the project areas.
The bill passed on a 63 to 33 vote. Representative Vicki Lensing of Iowa City was among the Democrats who joined with Republicans to pass the bill. “I support jobs. I support economic development, but this is a private company coming in, wanting exceptions at the expense of private land owners.”
The loud and persistent opponents are far from conceding defeat, however. They say the 780-mile line, 200 miles of which are set to pass over Pike, Scott, Greene, Macoupin, Montgomery, Christian, Shelby Cumberland and Clark counties in Illinois, is being rammed through over widespread objections.
The Grain Belt Express has run into controversy, mainly because it is a privately held company that has yet to build a wind farm or transmission line. The five-member Illinois Commerce Commission has to give permission for the project to continue.
“Too many aspects of the ICC’s final order put landowner rights, livelihoods and investments at risk. Whatever the outcome of RICL, it will set case law and precedent for future private companies hoping to grab rights to our private property,” said ILA board member Curt Jacobs in a prepared statement.
Issuance of a CPCN gives RICL the right to survey and engage in other pre-siting activities but landowners do not have to grant easements to RICL. The Illinois Farm Bureau® (IFB), the Illinois Landowners Alliance, ComEd and the ICC staff argued that the ICC should not grant RICL authority under Section 8-503 of the PUA directing and authorizing construction of the transmission line.
A 750-mile interstate power line promises to deliver wind-generated electricity to Columbia at nearly half the price the city now pays. But the savings cannot be certain until the line is built and contracts are proposed.
Vocal, vehement opposition from local farmers and landowners has put a $300 million Grundy County project on hold. It’s known as the Rock Island Clean Line Energy project, and it involves channeling 3,500 megawatts of wind energy from Iowa to Illinois through a series of above-ground transmission lines.
Following an existing power line corridor, according to opponents, would be 18 miles shorter and would save approximately $36.8 million. However, the ICC concluded the route as approved would be least expensive when “all costs and benefits are taken into account.”
The approval depends on the developer, Clean Line Energy, getting approvals from the Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana state utility commissions before starting construction in Kansas. The order also specified that construction must begin within five years, and that Clean Line can’t recover any of its costs from Kansas ratepayers.
At a public forum on Monday, residents of La Salle County spoke out against a proposed power transmission line that would run through the county. The forum was at the Mendota High School gymnasium and was moderated by the Illinois Commerce Commission, which is in the process of considering Rock Island Clean Line's application to build a 3,500-megawatt high voltage direct current power transmission line across Illinois.
McMahon said the company had been looking for an upgrade to Ameren power lines to handle the power generated by the turbines. It was a concern that, as of Monday, no upgrade was scheduled, McMahon said.
"There are now 5,000 megawatts of wind generation seeking to connect to the Ameren transmission system in Missouri and Illinois. Because of our central location, our transmission facilities are becoming a thoroughfare for routing wind power from other areas as well," Maureen Borkowski, CEO of the newly formed Ameren Transmission Co. (ATX), said in a conference call.
But while regulators are paving the way for wind-farm development with tax credits and loosened regulations, the key challenge facing those developers is that existing transmission lines, substations and transformers are inadequate to handle the amount of energy expected to come from wind farms in various stages of development across the country. There's already a waiting list for wind-farm developers who want to hook into the existing grid.