Rock Island Clean Line LLC, a subsidiary of Clean Line Energy Partners of Houston, Texas, is in the process of conducting outreach meetings in local communities across Iowa and Illinois. Clean Line Energy considers public involvement a crucial component of the project development process and will determine a route based on a combination of public feedback and environmental and engineering data. At these meetings, Rock Island Clean Line is looking to members of the community to identify potential opportunities for siting a transmission line and to express areas of concern.
The Rock Island Clean Line will deliver up to 3,500 megawatts of clean power from Iowa, Minn., Neb., and S.D. to communities and businesses in Ill. and other states to the east. The clean energy will be transported via an approximately 500 mile long overhead, high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line. The Rock Island Clean Line will make possible approximately $7 billion worth of investments in new wind energy projects that today cannot be constructed due to the lack of transmission. In addition to the new wind farm investments, The Rock Island Clean Line project will cost approximately $1.7 billion.
Clean Line Energy President Michael Skelly said, "Although siting a long haul transmission project is a lengthy and complex process, Clean Line Energy is committed to developing the Rock Island Clean Line in a methodical, transparent and collaborative manner. We are working closely with local governmental officials, county staff, federal agencies, conservation and other interest groups across the project area." He continued, "Wind energy provides benefits to local economies in Iowa and Ill. but in order for the industry to continue to grow, the clean energy must have a way to get to market. Just as the Rock Island railroad allowed farmers to grow product and move it to market, the Rock Island Clean Line will deliver clean, renewable energy to communities that need it, representing the new farm to market road for the 21st century."
Clean Line Energy Partners/Rock Island Clean Line open house at Oak Leaf Country Club on June 14, 2011.
Photo by Jessica Larsen
The Rock Island Clean Line is expected to attract wind farm developers to the region and generate millions of dollars in state and local tax revenues while addressing the nation's ongoing efforts to increase energy security. The project will encourage the manufacturing of wind turbine components and create thousands of jobs for local residents.
"Lack of transmission is a key factor limiting demand for new wind projects in the Midwest," said J. Cameron Drecoll, CEO of Broadwind Energy. "Companies like ours that can create a lot of jobs in manufacturing wind turbine components can't hire more people without more demand. Projects like the Rock Island Clean LIne would help us sustain and create real jobs like those at gear facility of Cicero, Ill.
The $1.7 billion project is in the early development stages and is expected to take five to seven years to complete. Last year, the Rock Island Clean Line filed an application with the Ill. Commerce Commission (ICC) to become a public utility in Ill. and over the next year will begin the approval process for the routing of the line. Rock Island Clean Line also plans to file for a franchise with the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB). Information garnered from public outreach will be used to inform both applications.
"With U.S. electricity demand continuing to grow, it is encouraging to see Iowa and other states with abundant wind resources take the steps necessary to deliver clean, renewable power of America's electricity mix. Projects like the Rock Island Clean Line will help upgrade our nation's electrical transmission grid system and open up new markets for clean wind energy generation," said Robert Lloyd, Plant Manager of the Clipper Windpower facility based in Cedar Rapids.
For over 12 months, the development of the Rock Island Clean Line has advanced on a number of fronts. A study area for the Rock Island Clean LIne was first developed based on the desire to connect the strong wind resource of of northwest Iowa and its bordering states to the large market for renewable energy in Ill. and states further east. After the study area was identifies, Rock Island Clean LIne conducted meetings with community leaders, farming and agricultural associations, legislators, governmental agencies and environmental advocates in Iowa and Ill. to gather feedback and input on the proposed study area. Rock Island Clean LIne is now developing draft corridors that are typically three to ten miles wide, in which the line could potentially be routed. Following the development of corridors and extensive public outreach with local residents and governments, clean Line will develop proposed route alternatives that are typically 200 feet wide, where the line could potentially be constructed. The ultimate route for the line will then require regulatory approvals from the Ill. Commerce Commission, the Iowa Utilities Board and various other federal and state bodies.
For more information about the Rock Island Clean LIne, please visit www.rockislandcleanline.com.