Iowa to Illinois wind energy project faces setback

Wind turbines on a snowy Iowa field. (Tony Webster/Wikimedia Commons)
Wind turbines on a snowy Iowa field. (Tony Webster/Wikimedia Commons)
Nick Fetty | January 13, 2016

A project that would transport wind energy generated in Iowa to Illinois faced a setback this week after the Iowa Utilities Board voted against splitting the case into two separate hearings.

The Iowa Utilities Board on Monday voted 3-0 against a third request by Clean Line Energy Partners – the company behind the $2 billion project – to split the case into two separate hearings. Proponents of the project argue that two separate hearings would give them more time to discuss approval of the project itself as well as the use of eminent domain to complete it while opponents cite that separate hearings would be more burdensome for landowners and others involved.

Cary Kottler – Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Clean Line Energy Partners – told Midwest Energy News earlier this month that the project probably wont happen “if all the right-of-way has to be acquired before the route is approved.”

State law and regulations by the Iowa Utilities Board require that approval of a project as well as approval to use eminent domain must be decided in a single proceeding. Clean Energy Partners has received approval from approximately 15 percent of affected landowners but will not seek approval from additional landowners until it works through the procedural issues.

The proposed Rock Island Clean Line would take energy generated by wind turbines in northwest Iowa and transport it to a converter station outside of Chicago. The company expects the line will provide enough energy to power 1.4 million homes.

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