BLOOMINGTON – The Third District Court of Appeals in Ottawa this week sided with Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) and others in a decision against Rock Island Clean Line (RICL) in the company’s bid to build a 500-mile, high-voltage transmission line across Northern Illinois.
The proposed project, which would move wind power from Iowa to Grundy County, was the first merchant-owned electric transmission line in Illinois.
“The Rock Island Clean Line case was the first case where the Illinois Farm Bureau intervened and actually opposed a project,” said Laura Harmon, senior counsel for IFB. “And the court agreed with our argument that Rock Island Clean Line did not meet the definition of a public utility.”
The court reversed the Illinois Commerce Commission’s (ICC) 2012 decision to allow Clean Line Energy Partners to construct, operate and maintain the electric transmission line because the company “has not attained public utility status within the meaning of the Public Utilities Act,” according to the court’s opinion.
“Not only are they not a public utility, they’re not devoting their assets to public use,” Harmon said. “The law requires that they offer these services in a non-discriminatory manner, and this project doesn’t designate any part of its use for Illinois.”
According to Harmon, the decision could help IFB’s case against Clean Line Energy Partners’ Grain Belt Express, a proposed 780-mile transmission line across South Central Illinois, which is still pending in the Fifth District Court of Appeals.
Clean Line Energy Partners can request the appeals court reconsider its decision, or appeal the decision to the Illinois Supreme Court, Harmon said.
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