Illinois Commerce Commission is currently reviewing a petition from Rock Island Clean Line LLC (RICL) to grant a certificate of public convenience and necessity of the Public Utilities Act as a transmission public utility. If approved, this private company will be awarded the power of eminent domain to acquire the land to run its power line across [northwestern Illinois and] north of Morris.
RICL has sold this venture to bring clean renewable wind energy from western Iowa to the Chicago area to help bring down our energy costs. Yet, this project is more about Iowa and the energy markets they want to plug into farther to the east of us.
Clean Line doesn’t completely speak the truth anymore as an exclusive option. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, in its order issued to the company on May 22, denied Clean Line’s request for preference for energy from renewable resources in its open season.
This country needs to develop all forms of renewable energy. But companies must be accountable and clear in their motives when they pitch their projects to the people living with the infrastructure. Illinois will get little long-term benefit from this power line.
Clean Line is using us for the land to hold up its towers. Lower prices? Their director of development admitted there needs to be an almost 50 percent increase in wholesale energy prices to make the project economically feasible. So he is promising better rates for electricity … after they go up. Is it good policy when private investors can be awarded the right to acquire land through the power of eminent domain for their behalf?
This is not a public utility company. RICL is owned by a wealthy family in Houston, Texas, and a company called Ziff Brothers Investments of New York. Ultimately who, then, is in line to benefit the most from its fruition?
Henry Babson, Morris
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