- The Iowa Utilities Board rejected a third request from Clean Line Energy Partners (CLEP) to change the process for permitting the proposed Rock Island Clean Line high voltage transmission system designed to deliver electricity generated by Iowa wind to Midwestern and Eastern grid operators.
- CLEP asked the IUB to rule first on the need for the project and its route before deciding whether the developer should be granted the right to take land through the power of eminent domain to complete the approved route. A group of local landowners adamantly opposes granting CLEP that power.
- Iowa law and IUB regulations require the three decisions to be made in one proceeding except under unique circumstances. CLEP does not expect it can cost-effectively acquire rights of way along the line’s entire 500 mile route from willing landowners without the leverage of an IUB-approved and permitted route.
The IUB indicated four categories of issues on which it based its ruling that the proceeding should not be bifurcated.
First, the IUB concluded, “a procedural schedule with two phases, divided as proposed by Clean Line, would not necessarily impair the constitutional rights of any party…” Second, it found “the issues for each hearing have been defined with sufficient specificity that clear notice could be given to all interested persons.”
The IUB’s conclusions on the third and fourth categories seem to have weighed heavily in its decision.
“While the phased approach would be more efficient for Clean Line," commissioners wrote, it is not more efficient or convenient for the affected landowners, who would be required to attend two separate hearings in order to be heard on all of the issues.”
And CLEP did not adequately address the IUB’s “concern that bifurcation of the hearing could have an adverse effect on the bargaining position of the affected landowners,” the regulators wrote.