April 23, 2014
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Rock Island Clean Line developer responds to opponents' concerns

Mendota, Ill. -- People have raised many objections to Rock Island Clean Line’s plans for a high voltage DC power line across northern Illinois to Grundy County. The company’s Director of Development, Hans Detweiler, replied to the concerns for WCMY Radio Wednesday night after the Illinois Commerce Commission hearing in Mendota. He says some complaints come down to misunderstandings.
     Some people don’t think the compensation for an easement crossing their farms is a fair price. Detweiler says it’s a good compensation package and most people are happy with it.
     Detweiler says RICL is trying to keep its transmission route along property lines, fence lines, and other borders that make sense. But opponents complain that the route often crosses farm fields in the middle or even diagonally. Detweiler says staying away from homes, campgrounds, and some other areas is important too. Giving that a priority sometimes means crossing farmland in a less than desirable place.
     As for the power heading to the east coast, Detweiler says that’s up to the companies that buy it after it’s delivered in Grundy County. Some may sell it to Illinois customers. Others will transmit it further and sell it in other states. In any case, he says having more electricity on the market helps push electric prices down.
     Some of the project’s opponents have observed that electricity prices are already low because of a surplus. Detweiler says the market is changing. Some sources of power are going away. Others are coming online. RICL intends to provide the means to get it from point A to point B.
     There is a misunderstanding about a letter, purportedly signed by ten or 11 governors in opposition to the RICL project. Detweiller says in 2009, ten eastern governors signed a letter to members of Congress in support of wind energy. Those governors opposed certain ways of financing energy transmission line projects. Detweiler says RICL isn’t using those financing methods and RICL isn’t mentioned in the letter.
     RICL has a request before the Illinois Commerce Commission for public utility status. Some objections have to do with RICL being a private company asking for eminent domain authority. Detweiller says RICL would be just like Ameren and Commonwealth Edison.
     It may be a few months before the ICC decides on RICL’s request. While listening to those for and against the power line project, the ICC will decide whether it’s ultimately in the public interest, convenience, and necessity.
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