Hans Detweiler, former Illinois and Washington lobbyist, and currently the Director of Development for Rock Island Clean Line (RICL) in Illinois was recently profiled in Crain's Chicago Business. The following is an excerpt from the May 21, 2012 article:
"Also, today's rock-bottom wholesale power prices, in the low $30s per megawatt-hour, are too low to make the project (Rock Island Clean Line) economic. Mr. Detweiler expects that in five years, when he hopes the line will be built, prices will be modestly higher. He says, given how strong the wind blows in northwest Iowa, $45 per megawatt-hour would be sufficient."
According to RICL's own Director of Development, an increase of almost 50% in wholesale power prices is needed to make this project economically feasible?! That is absolutely not a "modest" increase! In stakeholder meet-and-greets, Hans Detweiler claimed that this project would lower our electric bills. That defies common sense.
In addition, this projected economical unfeasibility is budgeted on underestimated costs. Land values in Iowa and Illinois have increased 20-25% and are projected to continue to rise. Additionally, the tax estimates RICL is "offering" are based on outdated land values. It will take longer than the 20 years they are suggesting that they pay these ridiculously low taxes to realize the full impact of land devaluation from the transmission lines cutting through prime fields. Mr. Detweiler also claims that they will fix ALL damages in construction, including compacted soil and crushed tile, but cannot say HOW. Since they intend to build in the middle of sections, and away from roads, this would impact thousands of acres outside of the easements. More importantly, in our area sentiment is so strong against this project that landowners will not willingly sign over their land. RICL will have to take the majority of landowners to court in order to take the land at significant additional cost.
If RICL's project is economically unfeasible at underestimated costs of construction, unrealistic tax figures, outdated land value estimates, and difficulty in obtaining the land, how much would power prices really have to go up to make this project economically viable? What happens if or when the company goes bankrupt? How much would Iowa and Illinois residents and especially the landowners really lose then?
Mr. Detweiler neglects to say that we have "sufficient" potential wind power in Lake Michigan that equals anything in northwest Iowa. Transmission lines are most efficient and cost effective when production is close to the consumers. These transmission lines would by-pass the vast majority of Iowa and Illinois with the majority of the power going to the east coast. Per the FERC, the electricity cannot be limited to "clean energy" sources and denied RICL's request for a "renewable energy" label based on making it more "palatable" to the stakeholders.
We do not need these lines, nor would we benefit from them. The token jobs they say they would create in Iowa and Illinois are just that- tokens. We need to protect our NONrenewable farmland from private projects that are financially unviable and private companies who want to make a quick buck at significant expense to Iowa and Illinois residents.
Comments can be made on the Iowa Utilities Board Electronic Filing Page. Docket # NOI-2011-0002.
Mary Doughty Mauch