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.

UNI event focuses on ethics of energy production

The Campanile is a major landmark on the University of Northern Iowa campus. (Madmaxmarchh/WikiMedia Commons)

Nick Fetty | April 17, 2015

An event hosted by the University of Northern Iowa on Wednesday focused on ethical implications in the production of energy.

The event – “Ethics of Energy Production” – examined “economic effects, environmental impacts, legal aspects, agricultural viewpoints and employment prospects” in regard to how energy is produced in Iowa and abroad. Speakers addressed a handful of issues including: Concerns about how Iowa and the U.S. will meet future energy needs, the proposed Dakota Access oil pipeline and Rock Island Clean Line projects, the approval process for proposed energy production projects, and how to have your voice heard in the discussion.

Attorney Justin LaVan discussed concerns Iowans have about the proposed Rock Island Clean Line which would pass through 16 counties in the state. According to the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, LaVan – who represents an alliance of landowners opposed to the proposed pipeline – pointed out that the project has received easement approval from 176 landowners. The project needs approval from 1,540 total landowners in order to pass. A February poll by the Des Moines Register found that the majority of Iowans support the pipeline but are against using eminent domain to accomplish the project.

David Osterberg – a clinical professor in Occupational and Environmental Health at the University of Iowa – served as a panelist at the event and discussed the impact that energy production has on climate change.

“[T]his particular industry is the bane of our existence in Iowa, because it hurt everything else, not only wind but also ethanol. They’re bad guys. Don’t give them a pipeline,” Osterberg said.

UNI business professor Craig Van Sandt was an organizer of the event and he focused on the impact that current energy production practices will have on future generations.

“They are going to affect our children, our grandchildren — and depending on your leanings — they affect animals in the environment as well,” he said.