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That vacant steel plant in Hennepin

Published: Monday, Oct. 15, 2012 2:43 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Oct. 15, 2012 2:44 p.m. CDT

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Currently Rock Island Clean Line (affiliate of Clean Line Energy Partners, based in Houston, Texas) has submitted a request to the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) concerning a proposed transmission line which would proceed from wind farms from South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, through Iowa and through Bureau and Grundy counties in Illinois, to carry electricity eastward to the Chicago area and to states further east extending to Boston. Overhead high voltage current transmission lines proposed for Illinois have been met with opposition in Bureau County.

The reader may know Bureau County brought in the first wind farm in Illinois, and therefore, is no stranger to rural opposition as it relates to the possible interruption or destruction of agricultural practices in these areas considered the breadbasket of America ... and the world. The Bureau County Board, of which I am a member, is currently considering the application of what could be our fifth wind farm. We support conservation and clean, green energy. We have learned along the way that jobs are created.

Currently, our unemployment rate in Bureau County has exceeded 10 percent — higher than our neighbors and most of the state of Illinois. We have learned the permanent jobs which are associated with wind energy are in manufacturing the wind turbine components. This letter addresses the issues of: Manufacturing jobs, promotion, commerce on the Illinois River and Great Lakes areas, as well as the transmission of great plains energy and possible generation of wind energy via off-shore wind energy in the Great Lakes areas to supply the continuing need for energy in the northern Illinois and Eastern states.

In Putnam County, an eviscerated former steel manufacturing plant at Hennepin lies vacant. It once employed workers from Marshall, LaSalle, Bureau counties. (Towns in these counties suffer from unemployment, resulting foreclosures and abandonment of homes.) The plant has excellent import/export facilities, highways, railroad sidings and is on the Illinois River. Were it to manufacture turbine blades, which usually are 400 feet, they could easily be transported by barge along the Illinois river and beyond.

Obviously, wind farms could be located throughout the Great Lakes and Illinois. Lake Michigan could experience job creation and be part of the greater Green Energy movement.

Loretta Jo Volker


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