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Protest: ‘Block RICL’

Signs urging drivers to “Block RICL” are popping up in northern Bureau and LaSalle counties.

The signs are part of an effort to block the proposed Rock Island Clean Line (RICL) energy transmission project.

Clean Line Energy Partners, based in Houston, Texas, is looking at possible routes to carry electricity produced from wind farms in South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota and Iowa though Illinois and eastward. The overhead transmission line would be about 550 miles long and carry up to 3,500 megawatts of electric power.

The company held community meetings in Iowa and Illinois — including Bureau County — last year to introduce people to the company, the project and the purpose of the project.

In June 2012, Clean Line Energy Partners came before the Bureau County Board to give an update on the project. Four routes are under consideration, including three which would run across northern Bureau County. The developers have received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to begin negotiations with property owners. The developers will decide upon a chosen preferred route, as well as an alternate route, but the final route decision is made by the Illinois Commerce Commission. The developers proposed an agreement with Bureau County to pay $7,000 per linear mile per year to Bureau County in lieu of property taxes. No action was taken by the board.

Block RICL is an organization designed to stop the project. Mary Mauch, originally from Meriden, said she is one of about a dozen local leaders across northern Illinois spearheading the effort.

Last week, Block RICL held a meeting in Mendota to inform residents about the project. At the meeting, Illinois Farm Bureau President Phil Nelson said RICL would build 28-foot-by-28-foot lattice structures through the farmland, not monopoles built along roads.

“The lattice structures would be approximately the size of the Statue of Liberty and up to 50 feet taller than the torch,” Mauch said.

On Monday, Mauch said Clean Line Energy is making several misrepresentations.

First, she said the RICL would not carry all wind-generated power as has been claimed because federal regulations won’t let them limit what type power the lines would carry.

In addition, Mauch said in the December 2011 area meetings, RICL representatives were still insisting they had not applied to the Interstate Commerce Commission. Mauch said, in fact, they had applied in October 2010. She said the first of the local meetings were in June 2011, and many affected landowners said they were never notified.

Also, Block RICL released an update on Monday regarding the project. According to the update, “More than 12,000 acres would likely be taken for the easements alone. In addition, with modern farming techniques, towers would add to the time and cost of production. Soil compaction, tile damage and access to the poles for maintenance would cut yield. Aerial spraying and circle pivot irrigation would be inhibited if not impossible. Electromagnetic fields from the lines can interfere with GPS systems. Farmers would be liable for accidental damage to the poles and subsequent damages caused by a power outage resulting from the farmer’s actions.”

For more information, contact SaveOurFarmland@hotmail.com or call 815-315-8506.

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

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