Wind Industry Firm Faces Uphill Battle in Iowa over Massive Transmission Line

The wind industry and its related power firms are facing challenges in Iowa where the State Utilities Board has handed a setback for a company proposing a $2 billion transmission line to move wind energy from Iowa to Illinois. It’s one of two massive projects proposed by Clean Line Energy Partners.

The board voted recently to reject Clean Line’s request to split the case into two separate hearings. It also said it will decide whether to approve a Rock Island Clean Line and grant use of eminent domain in a single hearing.

Clean Line Energy officials complained they will have to spend tens of millions of dollars on the permit request and there exists the possiblity that the State could reject the line as not in the public interest. But the company did not have the support of groups representing union workers and the wind industry in a move to split the case and make a case for approval of the line.

The state board ruled that dividing the case would be inconvenient for landowners who are fighting the project. The company says the line would produce enough electricity to power 1.4 million homes in the Midwest, but landowners complained that Clean Line Energy is not offering enough compensation and should not be granted eminent domain. At last word, the company had obtained voluntary agreements from about 15 percent of the 1,540 parcels of land that the line would cross.

Clean Line also has proposed the Grain Belt Express line that would carry wind energy from western Kansas, across Missouri to Illinois. It has won approval of regulations in Illinois and Kansas but Missouri’s Public Service Commission rejected the proposal last year. Another issue being raised in the projects is just how long those voluntary easements will remain in effect since Clean Line came up with the proposal two years ago.


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