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Billion dollar renewable energy line developer to hold public meetings in North Iowa

Almost three years after developers for Direct Connect Development Co. first moved toward an energy transmission line that would run from Mason City to Chicago, residents across North Iowa will be able to weigh in on the multi-billion dollar project.

Over the course of the next week-plus, planners of the SOO Green HVDC Link will hold hour-and-a-half-long meetings in eight towns, including Charles City, Mason City and New Hampton, where landowners and community members can share their thoughts, ask questions and raise concerns.

According to spokesperson Sarah Lukan, the towns picked are ones that will have the line close to them so the meeting places will make it convenient for the relevant land owners to come in and learn more.

“We’ll have a lot of info at the meeting coming up next week for those interested in finding out more specifics about the project,” Lukan said. “At the meetings we’ll also have information and visuals that will show how the underground, co-located line will look and work.”

The plan is that by 2024, developers would have the 349-mile, 2,100 megawatt underground transmission line transporting clean energy from North Iowa to the Chicago area.

The project itself is estimated to cost between $2.5 billion and $3 billion and is being supported by a number of partners including industrial manufacturer Siemens and investment from Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners which has previously invested in wind projects and waste to energy programs.

“It’s all private funding and we have a number of investors we are working with to fund the project,” Lukan said about the project.

Lukan has also said that Direct Connect estimates work on the project would directly create more than 12,000 jobs in Iowa and Illinois during construction, while adding as many as 75 permanent jobs. Each county the line goes through would also receive a payment for each mile of line.

The high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line would be the first long-range underground HVDC line and run along rail owned by Canadian Pacific in order to “limit impacts” to the environment and endangered species.

In February, Direct Connect shared that it had begun a pre-filing process with the Iowa Utilities Board for the SOO Green project. Hosting those open houses in Iowa, as well as Illinois, is a part of the process as IUB rules dictate that there needs to be a public meeting in each county that the line will traverse. Lukan said that the next step after the meetings will be to file actual petitions which Direct Connect anticipates will be done in the coming months.

Direct Connect CEO Trey Ward called the filing “an important step forward in the steady progress of the SOO Green HVDC Link project” and said the company anticipates the upcoming events.

We look forward to meeting with local communities to answer any questions about the project we work toward development.”

What follows are the dates and locations for the forthcoming open houses:

March 13

12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m- Northeast Iowa YMCA; 313 W. Post St., Postville

5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.- Chickasaw Wellness Complex; 1050 W. Hamilton St., New Hampton

March 16

12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.- The Shore Event Center; 4111 N. Riverview, Bellevue

5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.- Hotel Julien; 200 Main St., Dubuque

March 18

12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.- Floyd County Fairgrounds; 2516 Seven Mile Road, Charles City

5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.- The Main Event Center; 112 Second St. SE, Mason City

March 23

12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.- NICC Wilder Business Center; 1625 Highway 150 S, Calmar

5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.- Luana Savings Bank; 100 Harvest Drive, Luana