OTTAWA – A group representing landowners affected by the proposed Rock Island Clean Line project in Illinois has appealed an Illinois Commerce Commission decision approving the project.
The Illinois Landowners Alliance filed Feb. 17 an appeal in the Third District Appellate Court in Ottawa asking for review of the ICC’s November decision allowing Rock Island Clean Line to construct and operate an electric transmission line and of its January denial of requests for rehearing, according to the petition to review.
“Too many aspects of the ICC’s final order put landowner rights, livelihoods and investments at risk,” Curt Jacobs, an ILA board member, said in a news release from Block RICL. “Whatever the outcome of RICL, it will set case law and precedent for future private companies hoping to grab rights to our private property.”
The project involves channeling 3,500 megawatts of wind energy from Iowa to Illinois through a series of above-ground transmission lines. RICL has proposed constructing a $300 million converter station in Grundy County.
The station would be the end point for a 500-mile direct current energy transmission line where the energy could be converted into alternate current electricity and injected into the power grid, servicing power throughout the Midwest and to the East Coast.
Before reaching the station, the transmission line would cut through numerous Illinois and Iowa farms, including some within Grundy County.
“What has been filed in court is really procedural at this time and we don’t know the details of the appeal,” Amy Kurt of RICL said Monday afternoon. “We will continue to monitor it.”
“The ICC did a thorough review of the case over a two-year process,” she continued. “We are very pleased and encouraged with the ICC’s unanimous approval of the project.”
ComEd also has filed an appeal to the ICC decision.
“ComEd certainly does not oppose renewable energy or merchant transmission projects, however, as ComEd pointed out throughout the ICC proceeding, RICL has not provided enough information about the specific project right now to, among other things, whether RICL actually will build the project,” ComEd spokeswoman Elizabeth Keating said in a statement.
“Until important economic and operating uncertainties are resolved and protections against excessive customer costs are strengthened, approval is premature and potentially poses a risk to customers. It may well be that this project makes a lot of sense – we just don’t believe that RICL has provided sufficient information and protections to justify approval at this early date,” the statement continued.
The ILA represents more than half the landowners affected by the Illinois portion of the project, according to the news release. It states RICL’s routing for the project is based on a “flawed study” and that the ICC failed to consult with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources in making its decision.
In addition, it contends RICL failed to prove the project is necessary or that it is capable of financing the construction, according to the news release.
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