Rock Island Clean Line held office hours in Belmond and Kanawha recently to answer questions about the company. RICL is proposing to build a 500-mile direct current power line from northwest Iowa to central Illinois to provide wind-generated electricity to the eastern U.S.
The preliminary RICL route would cross extreme southern Hancock County, extreme northeast Wright County, and west central Franklin County. Landowners in 16 counties along the path are being asked to sign paid easements for the power line.
Doug Jones, the RICL manager in Iowa, said the exact route is being tweaked and has not yet be filed with the Iowa Utilities Board. Filing is expected late this year, and a large public hearing will be held after that, probably in Grundy County.
“The easements are going very well,” Jones said. “We are pleased with the number signed – 375 miles (in Iowa) is a long way and involves a lot of landowners.”
RICL is still waiting to hear from the Illinois Commerce Commission about the planned route in that state. The Illinois plan was completed in late 2013, and the company is hoping to get a decision soon, Jones said.
After that, the schedule is to settle legal matters with IUB in 2015, begin construction in 2016, and start transmitting power in 2018.
Earlier this year, RICL announced an agreement with Sabre Tubular Structures of Sioux City to build steel poles for the power line across the state. There would be four to six single, hollow poles per mile. Land-owners are being offered a one-time payment of $6,000, or annual payments of $500 per pole. Corner poles are larger, and so are the payments: $18,000 one-time or $1,500 per year.
If the project goes ahead, roughly 2,000 more wind turbines could be erected in northwest Iowa, and many new jobs would be created, according to an RICL newsletter.
Not everyone is pleased with the RICL plan. A group opposed to it has a website: iowastopricl.com. In addition, two professors from Iowa State University have put information online about what landowners need to know before they sign an easement. They urge landowners not to sign any contract without a complete understanding. The ISU information is available at the website listed above.
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