March 28, 2012

Company trying to set energy pathway

BY EMILY K. COLEMAN, 28 March 2012

SPRINGFIELD – Clean Line Energy Partners wants to build an energy tollway through northern Illinois, but it hasn’t pinned down the route.

That’s why the Houston-based company said a Thursday Illinois Commerce Commission hearing on its application for public utility status is strictly procedural.

“We’re still working on the routing,” said Cary Kottler, project development manager. “We’re still analyzing the information we’ve received. It’ll still be several months before we decide on a route.”

The plan is to connect wind farms in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota with population centers in Chicago and to the east.

That means cutting across northern Illinois. One possible route runs through Lee and Whiteside and counties just north of Prophetstown before running south a bit beyond Harmon.

It’s “somewhat unusual,” but not unheard of, for a company to request public utility status without having its project pinned down, commission spokesman Beth Bosch said.

“They came to the commission, but they didn’t bring a project, they didn’t bring any cost estimates,” Bosch said. “I don’t know why they’re doing it this way.”

Clean Line decided to apply early, Kottler said, to make itself subject to the regulatory commission as it developed the project, and to get the public involved early.

“Every state is different,” he said. “In Oklahoma and Kansas, we have filed for public utility status without filing for a line. In Iowa, we have to wait until we file for the line.”

Following conversations with commission officials, Clean Line now is waiting to have its route finalized before going ahead with the public utility status application.

“[Thursday’s hearing] is totally a procedural status hearing that is not considering the merits of the case,” Kottler said. “It’s not considering any substantive issues.”

A number of comments on the project have been filed with the Illinois Commerce Commission, many of them worrying about possible crop loss where the route crosses fields.

Because it crosses the Iowa-Illinois border, the project also needs some approval from a federal regulatory agency.

For more information

Go to and click “Major Cases/Comment on a Case” to read more about the case, including Clean Line Energy Line’s petition and submitted public comments.

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