Opponents of the Grain Belt Express Clean Line remain undaunted by the Illinois Commerce Commission decision this week to deny requests to reconsider its approval of the controversial project.
The Grain Belt Express Clean Line is a proposed project by a Houston-based energy company that would transmit wind energy from Kansas all the way to a substation in eastern Indiana. The line, built with transmission towers, would cross through Cumberland and Shelby counties.
The company has said that the project would put 1,500 Illinoisans to work and would lower energy costs by $750 million in five years. Landowners have voiced worries that the company would resort to imminent domain and feared a loss of property rights.
Jennifer Gatrel, vice president of Block Grain Belt Missouri, said that despite the ICC’s denial of a rehearing, an appeal will be considered in court.
She said that the commission’s 2-1 decision last month was a violation of Illinois law because it granted a private utility company rights that are reserved for only public utilities.
So despite the ICC’s decision, Gatrel said Clean Line Energy might still get blocked from building in Illinois.
“We feel their chances at winning an appeal are extraordinarily good,” Gatrel said, referring to the multiple groups filing for an appeal.
Meanwhile, Mark Lawlor, director of development for Grain Belt Express Clean Line, said in a release that the company is pleased with the commission’s decision and will focus its efforts on getting regulatory approval in Missouri – the final state the project still needs acceptance in.
But opponents of the project in Illinois aren’t going ease up. And the project still needs approval in MIssouri.
“We are going to continue to fight until we win,” Gatrel said. “We will never quit.”
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