The Illinois Commerce Commission has just issued an order denying utility status to the highly speculative Houston-based Clean Line operation under a state law granting the company powers of eminent domain. This prevents the Clean Line companies from seizing land through condemnation in Illinois. The Commission agreed with an earlier administrative law judge that their is no need for their line in Illinois.
The ICC did approve the construction of the Rock Island Clean Line, but with major financial conditions and no condemnation powers. The IL Commission said, in effect, that Clean Line could build the line if they could get landowners to sell them their rights of way voluntarily. Yeah, good luck with that.
This decision is a huge victory for all the people who have been fighting the Rock Island Clean Line, one of many projects the Clean Line hustlers are working on across the Midwest. The Illinois project was an important piece of their plan, because it enabled significant transmission connections through PJM to the East Coast.
There are other Clean Line projects across the Midwest in Iowa, Arkansas and Missouri. Clean Line claims that all the lines are for bringing wind-generated power to eastern markets, but they have some big problems. MISO, the Midwestern RTO has not designated any of the projects as necessary to insure reliability. Clean Line’s projects are all speculative ventures with uncertain supply, beyond ludicrous claims that wind-power generators will all get rich selling through Clean Lines. Demand for power on the other end is also a big question mark. Although Clean Line has its sights set on selling to East Coast states with renewable portfolio standards, these states have little interest in buying wind power that includes costs for huge new transmission lines.
Our friends in Illinois have won a great victory. They did it with hard work and smart strategy.