Recently a man named Francis from Wheatland expressed frustration that Iowa was allowing the private company, Rock Island Clean Line, to seize his land through eminent domain. I understand the loss he’s feeling. It wouldn’t be fair to him or to the unfortunate people who would see the value of their homes and businesses depreciated by being neighbors of structures taller than the Statue of Liberty carrying three times the power produced by Hoover Dam.
This project is not to the benefit of the public. It is the scheme of investors to make more money. The company calls itself “Clean Line” but would also carry electricity generated by backup power stations (coal, nuclear, natural gas), not just wind farms.
What many do not know is that this project is offering landowners contracts that give Rock Island Clean Line easements for perpetuity. The contracts don’t limit the easements to this one transmission project making many wonder why they are wanting easements across Iowa and Illinois for perpetuity. This is a private company owned by out of state investors hiding behind the “Clean Energy” curtain.
As a neighbor to the proposed RICL line, I’m in fear for the future of our nonrenewable resource — our farmland. This isn’t the only power line project wanting to take a bite out of farm acreage. In the Illinois county where I reside, we presently have four separate proposed transmission line projects. It’s like a shark feeding frenzy over right-of-ways across our country’s most valuable resource, its fertile farmland.
I question what’ll happen to these transmission line projects and their easements if our federal government stops providing funding. What’ll happen when subsidies dry up or the Clean Energy Act evolves and other sources of clean energy such as off shore wind power from the Great Lakes or oceans, solar, geothermal, tidal action, hydro electric, garbage combustion, etc. become more prolific and profitable. Who knows what new clean energy sources will come to the forefront in the next five years. Where will we sit then with miles of White Elephant transmission structures having taken farmland out of production?
Those directly impacted by the proposed power project don’t lose hope. We can work together to bring common sense to this issue. Together we can make our voices heard. Iowa has not granted RICL the right to eminent domain, and the Illinois Commerce Commission is just starting hearings to address RICL’s request to be considered a “public utility” under Docket No. 12-0560.
It’s the strategy of RICL to make landowners feel helpless. This is not a done deal as RICL would like people to believe. I invite you to join our large and growing grassroots organization, Block RICL. All across Illinois and Iowa people are forming groups to intervene and ask the ICC to study all proposed transmission line projects and come up with a way to deal with them that truly is in the best interest of the people.