Clean Energy; delivered in Illinois

Published: Monday, Sept. 10, 2012 2:46 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Sept. 10, 2012 2:49 p.m. CDT

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Over the last two years, I have had the pleasure of introducing to people across Illinois the Rock Island Clean Line project, which will deliver enough energy to power 1.4 million Illinois homes and help keep power prices lower in Illinois. I hope to address a couple of questions recently posed by landowners.  

One key question is the fairness of our proposed landowner compensation; a recent blogger encouraged farmers to hold out for at least $50,000 per mile. Assuming that at least one structure is placed on a parcel of land, most landowners will receive compensation totaling more than 100 percent of the fair market value of the easement area, even though permanent impacts of the transmission line will comprise less than 1 percent of the easement property, and the balance of the easement property will be available for crop production.  Based on today’s local land prices, easement widths and structure types, it is likely we will offer $150,000 to $200,000 per typical mile of right-of-way.

Some people are also asking why we have a preference for lattice-type structures over tubular steel “monopole” structures. We have not yet made a determination as to the primary structure type. We have maintained flexibility, so landowner concerns, terrain, land use, project costs and other relevant factors can be considered. It is likely a mix of structure types will be used. Lattice structures can be spaced farther apart, but the foundation for lattice structures takes up more space. Therefore, higher payments will be made for lattice structures.

Some folks have rightly asked how their land will be affected when there is heavy construction equipment in farm fields. Clean Line is committed to working with landowners to minimize impacts to current land use across the project footprint. We are dedicated to treating landowners fairly for any damages incurred during construction. If drainage tile is damaged, Clean Line will have it repaired or replaced to at least the same quality. We commit to being the first utility in Illinois to use an agricultural inspector to monitor construction — an independent inspector available to landowners who will have the authority to order a complete stop to construction if we aren’t in compliance with agreed-to construction practices. We will also provide compensation for crops damaged, will restore compacted soil, and will repair damage to soil conservation practices resulting from construction and maintenance of the transmission line. 

Finally, it has been said the project will take enormous amounts of farmland out of production, and that the roughly 125-mile line in Illinois will consume 12,000 acres.  Actually, typical monopoles will be about 7-feet in diameter, and typical lattice will be about 28-feet by 28-feet. Assuming four or five structures per mile, only about 12 acres will be permanently taken out of production in Illinois. 

Northern Illinois has some of the best farmland in the world, and Clean Line is committed to being a good steward of that land.

Doug Jones

Davenport, Iowa

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