August 8, 2014

Rock Island Clean Line plans IUB filing

By Chelsea Keenan, The Gazette | Published: August 7 2014 | correction: Aug. 8, 2014 |

The Texas-based energy company behind the Rock Island Clean Line hopes to file an application for preferred and alternative routes with the Iowa Utilities Board by the end of the year, with the goal of starting construction in 2016.

The Rock Island Clean Line is a 500-mile overhead high-voltage line that would carry electricity produced by wind turbines in northwestern Iowa across 16 Iowa counties to Illinois and points east. The company projects that the Rock Island Clean Line will power 1.4 million homes.

Hans Detweiler, director of development for Clean Line Energy Partners, said the company has already received project approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and has submitted its application to the Illinois Commerce Commission.

“We’ve had informational meetings and are negotiating with land owners (in Iowa),” Detweiler said. “In general it has been well received. But there has been some level of concern, which is reasonable and rational for a project this large.”

The project, which would stretch diagonally through the state from O’Brien to Scott counties, including Linn, would cross 2,000 parcels of land.

Once the company receives the necessary approvals, the $2 billion project would take about two years to construct, Detweiler said.

Clean Line Energy Partners has touted the project’s economic and environmental benefits, including creating 5,000 construction jobs, 500 long-term operations jobs and $7 billion in new wind farm investments as well as decreasing carbon dioxide emissions by 9 million tons and saving 3.5 billion gallons of water per year.

Not everyone in the state is on board.

According to the Iowa Utilities Board, 1,042 presumed parties have filed objections to the project, although some have filed multiple objections.

“There will be some parcels that you can’t get through voluntary acquisition and will need to use eminent domain,” Detweiler said. “But we are committed to voluntary acquisition.”

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