The Illinois Commerce Commission has scheduled a public forum regarding the proposed Rock Island Clean Line on Wednesday at the Mendota High School auditorium. Sign in will begin at 6:30 p.m., with the forum will begin at 7 p.m.
The organization Block RICL notes this is the one and only public forum likely to be scheduled for gathering public comments about Clean Line. Comments can be spoken, or a prepared, typed statement can be turned in. As a result, the opposition group is encouraging the general public to attend.
Rock Island Clean Line is a private company from Texas wanting a new, 500-mile, 200-foot wide easement for the construction of an electrical distribution line. Opponents of the plan point out the proposed route is near homes and through the middle of prime farmland, not following existing roads, railroad easements, nor fencelines.
Block RICL points to Illinois Commerce Commission testimony in arguing economic benefits touted by Rock Island Clean Line do not include any of the costs.
Among the other points of opposition, which are likely to be voiced during the public forum, is the fact that for a significant portion of the route, the massive DC power lines would parallel pipelines, creating a perceived danger for the people who would have to live and work in the vicinity of both.
Another point of contention is this is the first transmission project of its kind (merchant transmission line) to try to get public utility status in Illinois and therefore, the power of eminent domain. RICL, opponents note, has left the option open for asked for cost-allocation, which they believe could result in consumers being asking to pay for it through electric bills.
RICL cannot guarantee even a small percentage of the power carried would be from wind energy, Block RICL adds, noting RICL also would hook into the grid carrying coal- and gas-generated power.
The electricity would go into the East Coast, PJM grid. Illinois basically would be a pass-through state.
“Very few local, temporary jobs are anticipated during construction, and certainly no permanent jobs,” Mary Mauch of Block RICL said. “If we invested the same amount of money in local, renewable energy, such as solar on every toolshed roof, and energy efficiency, we would realize far greater return on our money while promoting permanent jobs and renewable energy commerce in our own area, instead of robbing landowners and farmers of the value, productivity, and development potential of their land.”
Block RICL also argues RICL has no proven this line is “needed,” and they claim they don’t have to as a merchant transmission line. Tax benefits touted by RICL, the opposition group adds, have been identified by ICC testimony as mere transfers of wealth, and may represent an increase in taxes.