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Saratoga schools agree to terms on energy line project

MORRIS – Saratoga school officials have agreed to abate taxes on the site of the proposed Rock Island Clean Line Energy power station until 2032 in exchange for a one-time payment of about $2.75 million.

The Saratoga Grade School District 60C Board voted, 5-0, Monday to approve a term sheet with Clean Line. Board member Ginger Jones was absent, and Scott Heren left prior to the vote.

School officials, along with Morris Community High School administrators, had met with the district’s attorney to discuss what the Rock Island Clean Line’s energy project would mean to the schools if it came to Grundy County.

“The district would receive a one-time payment of $2.745 million,” Superintendent Kathy Perry said. “We could use those funds any way we want.”

Perry told the board if the Clean Line Energy project goes forward, the district would consider putting the lump sum payment into a separate escrow account, which the district would draw from annually during the next 20 years.

The proposed Rock Island Clean Line Energy project involves channeling 3,500 megawatts of wind energy from Iowa to Illinois through a series of above-ground transmission lines.

The electricity pipeline would begin in O’Brien County, Iowa, and span 500 miles, ending at a large converter station in Grundy County. The station would be built on agricultural land near the former Collins Station property.

At the station, electricity would be converted from direct current into alternating current energy and then get injected into the power grid. The energy would power homes throughout the Midwest and as far as the East Coast.

Morris Community High School Superintendent Pat Halloran said in July the districts would abate 100 percent of the taxes in exchange for the one-time payment until 2032, when the enterprise ends. At that time, the districts will receive 50 percent of the taxes owed on the property.

The project’s fate rests with the Illinois Commerce Commission, which is reviewing it.