Spring is in the air as is the smell of fresh turned soil as farmers rush to plant seeds. Clean Line Energy Partners, LLC (CLEP) is aware that farmers, one of their major opposition groups, are very busy, so it isn’t surprising CLEP has chosen this time to launch a propaganda campaign targeted at getting Chicago’s support for CLEP’s two long haul DC transmission line projects proposed to impose upon Illinoisans.
CLEP, a private group of investors, is trying to make money off the backs of citizens. CLEP is not part of the existing electricity grid and wants to put up their transmission lines without consideration of regional planning or the existing infrastructure. They propose to bring wind generated electricity across Illinois citizens’ heads and prime farmland in an effort to make money by selling “clean” electricity to the East Coast states. CLEP claims the source of the electricity will be wind farms not yet built in states further west. This would put the electricity directly in competition with the excess electricity produced in Illinois that’s exported out of state.
Recently CLEP launched a propaganda campaign in Chicago claiming they will reduce electricity rates for Chicago residents. This is absurd. The PJM Grid they hope to acquire room on supplies less than 8 percent of Illinois electricity, and the consumer savings are widely disputed by the Illinois Commerce Commission staff. The ICC is scrutinizing CLEP and noted a flawed business plan that is aspirational at best.
Testimony given under oath at the ICC hearings shows CLEP has less than 2 percent of the financing needed to build the projects, yet CLEP is producing slick, buzz-word filled sales pitches.
Illinois Farm Bureau, Commonwealth Edison and Illinois Landowners Alliance have all presented strong cases against allowing CLEP to use eminent domain to push their shady, poorly-planned projects though the state. Illinois does not need this electricity nor will consumers benefit from being under the lines. No environmental impact studies have been done, and this proposed plan is not the lowest cost or best solution. Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas are also fighting to keep CLEP projects out of their states.
Winters, of the UK-based company National Grid, testified his foreign company has an option to buy any of the CLEP projects even pre-construction of the lines. Apparently CLEP is a shell company for acquiring valuable easements across multiple states using the buzz words, “Clean Energy.” Two hundred-feed-wide easements owned for perpetuity would be a highly sought after commodity. Consumers beware!
To see ICC comments, court transcripts, and closing testimony go to Illinois Commerce Commission docket No. 12-0560.