Rock Island Clean Line LLC (RICL) proposes to build a high voltage transmission line across northern Illinois. The proposed route will cross prime farmland, forever removing about 12,000 acres from production.
Placing towers and lines across some of the best farmland in the world will forever prevent and/or alter normal farming operations. These are economic and operational burdens that farmers — and ultimately consumers — will have to bear. The line will also permanently decrease actual and aesthetic property values. In contrast, RICL’s private, for profit venture will be backed by the power of eminent domain (if the ICC grants them a certificate of public necessity) and subsidized by our federal tax dollars. This seems patently unfair.
RICL argues the transmission line is needed per Illinois’s Renewable Energy Standards. This rationale is problematic: the standards were intended to promote development of in-state renewable energy generation, not justify construction of transmission lines that import power from elsewhere without providing connection to renewable energy projects in Illinois. Furthermore, the proposed lines would bypass most of the Illinois Smart Grid, one that residents are paying $3.2 billion to upgrade in the name of efficiency and enabling local renewable energy generation.
We need renewable energy. I disagree, however, with a for-profit entity being granted status of a public utility so that it may construct its transmission lines at the expense of landowners and the general public. Alternative routes along already-disturbed corridors such as I-80 and I-39 should be considered.
Landowners who do lose property to the lines should be compensated in perpetuity. The next hearing date is Sept. 27. Please contact your state and federal legislators and the Illinois Commerce Commission and voice your opinion. The docket number is 10-0579.
Paul Litow Homedale, Idaho, formerly of Earlville