- Developers of a 500-mile transmission line that would bring wind energy to Illinois markets have withdrawn their application in Iowa pending a court decision to determine the project's fate, Iowa Farmer Today reports.
- The Illinois Commerce Commission unanimously approved the Rock Island Clean Line in 2014, but an appellate court decision blocked construction last year. In November, the state's Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.
- Houston-based Clean Line Energy Partners proposed the $2 billion project to bring 3,500 MW of wind power from northwest Iowa to Illinois and other states to the east.
Pending a decision by the Illinois Supreme Court, a local farming publication reports Clean Line Energy Partners has withdrawn its application in Iowa rather than rushing to identify land it would need to acquire using eminent domain.
Clean Line Energy Vice President Hans Detweiler told Iowa Farmer Today that under a timeline set out by the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB), the company would have needed to identify necessary land this month before the Illinois court made its judgment. “We prefer to get resolution of the Illinois approval first, and then revisit the Iowa process," Detweiler reportedly said in an email.
The company expects the Illinois Supreme Court could issue a decision as early as May.
A year ago, the IUB rejected Clean Line's bid to alter permitting process after project backers had asked the state to rule first on the need for the project and its route, before deciding whether the developer should be allowed to use eminent domain to complete the approved route. Fears of eminent domain in Iowa led landowners to challenge the state's approval of the project. But developers pin hope that the court would see its public benefits through job creation and energy savings.
"We are hopeful that the court will recognize that privately funded infrastructure projects, like the Rock Island Clean Line, clearly serve a public purpose by creating jobs in the state and saving consumers hundreds of millions of dollars in energy costs," Detweiler said in a November statement, after the court announced it would hear the case.
Clean Line officials say the transmission line could enable approximately $7 billion of new renewable energy projects.