To the Editor:
Two weeks ago, the Rock Island Clean Line filed for approval from the Illinois Commerce Commission.
The transmission project, which will deliver enough wind energy for 1.4 million homes to Illinois consumers, is estimated to reduce wholesale energy costs across Illinois by $320 million in the first year of operations alone. The project will also create construction and manufacturing jobs and dramatically reduce dangerous pollutants.
Regarding a recent letter by Scott Thorsen challenging these consumer benefits, a recent report by the Illinois Power Agency essentially agreed with Rock Island about the impact of wind on wholesale prices: that during 2011, renewable resources, principally wind power, reduced wholesale power prices in Illinois by $1.30 per megawatt-hour, from $36.40 to $35.10 per MWh.
Contrary to Mr. Thorsen’s claim, it’s simply incorrect that prices have to go up to $70 per MWh for consumers to realize benefits from the Rock Island Clean Line. As David Kolata of the Citizens Utility Board recently stated about the Rock Island project: “Illinois has restructured its energy markets, and new power supplies, especially new renewable energy supplies, are one critical leg of the stool for keeping electricity prices affordable. This project could be good news for consumers.”
Mr. Thorsen is correct that the Rock Island Clean Line isn’t free. Someone will pay for the transmission capacity. But no one is required to buy capacity on the line. Illinois electricity consumers can switch electric providers if they don’t like how much their provider charges. Likewise, we want our customers to have the choice to buy clean, low-cost wind energy that doesn’t pollute or fluctuate with fuel prices.
Finally, Mr. Thorson referred to me or my company as liars or tellers of half-truths at least three times in a relatively short letter. I believe that we as a society should aim for a higher level of civility, and I would like to express my appreciation that the overwhelming majority of citizens in Grundy County with whom I have discussed this project evidently agree.