The proposed route across La Salle County for the Rock Island Clean Line electricity transmission line will run mostly parallel to U.S. 52.
The route was part of the request the company filed Wednesday with the Illinois Commerce Commission seeking public utility status and approval to build the 3,500-megawatt transmission line.
The project is controversial in La Salle County, where its impact both on rural property owners and the local economy is questioned.
The new route avoids the Mendota area, which has become a hotbed of opposition to the project.
Even so, that area’s opposition may remain strong, La Salle County Board Member Steve Abel, D-Mendota, chairman of the County Board Development Committee, told The Times.
“I’ve heard people say before they don’t want it anywhere,” he said. “Even if they’re left unaffected by it, they’ll still be in opposition.”
A frequently-cited concern is the possibility of having property taken from owners through eminent domain if the ICC grants public utility status to Clean Line.
Clean Line did not, in Wednesday’s application with the ICC, request eminent domain authority for the project.
But Hans Detweiler, Clean Line’s director of development, told The Times last week the authority may be requested in the future on a “parcel-by-parcel basis.”
La Salle County is just part of the route for the proposed 500-mile overhead, high voltage direct current transmission line. It is to be used to transmit wind energy from northwest Iowa to Grundy County for use in Illinois and retransmission to points east.
Clean Line says if completed the line will decrease the annual cost of wholesale electricity used to serve Illinois customers by an estimated $320 million in its first year of operation.
It says additional economic benefits in Illinois include a direct investment of about $600 million in the state, creating hundreds of jobs for the construction of the transmission line, supporting jobs in the manufacturing of equipment for wind farms that will generate power for the line and providing revenue to local taxing districts.
Clean Line also says during construction the use of local vendors, such as hotels and materials suppliers, will generate millions in sales tax revenue.
“The Rock Island Clean Line would annually deliver into Illinois the rough equivalent of three times the energy of the Hoover Dam,” said David Kolata, executive director of the Citizens Utility Board, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Illinois organization whose mission is to represent the interests of residential utility customers across the state.
“Illinois has restructured its energy markets, and new power supplies, especially new renewable energy supplies, are one critical leg of the stool for keeping electricity prices affordable,” he said. “This project could be good news for consumers.”
For more information about the Rock Island Clean Line, including documents filed in the ICC application, such as the routing study, route maps and the proposed landowner compensation fact sheet, visit rockislandcleanline.com.
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