The Illinoisans made one small modification though, they did not limit contact by U.S. Mail. After all, power company propaganda makes a great, free lining for the chicken house or pig pen.
And, because it is the only avenue left to the company after failed appearances at recent public comment hearings, they have been sending mail to affected landowners. One recent, pointless letter from Clean Line's Hans Detweiler
Rock Island Clean Line Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the Rock Island Clean Line?
A: The Rock Island Clean Line will be part of the nation's critical infrastructure that will help power our homes, communities, and the clean energy economy. The project will consist of an approximately 500-mile, overhead, direct current (DC) transmission line. The line will be capable of transmitting up to 3,500 megawatts of new renewable energy from northwest Iowa and the surrounding region to communities in Illinois and in states farther east. The project will deliver enough clean, renewable energy to meet the needs of over 1.4 million American homes.
The Rock Island Clean Line is not part of any national infrastructure plan and need for it is not critical. RICL is intended to transport electricity generated in western Iowa to eastern Illinois, where it will be connected with the PJM Interconnection system to be sold to consumers in east coast states. RICL will not power homes in the communities being asked to sacrifice to host the transmission line. The economic benefits of RICL will flow into the pockets of Texas-based Clean Line Energy Partners, LLC, not into the pockets of the landowners hosting the project.
Although the line will be capable of transmitting up to 3,500 megawatts of energy, it only has firm transmission injection rights to deliver 700 MW of energy into PJM. RICL may never deliver its claimed capacity upon which it calculated supposed “benefits” of the project. (Rebuttal Testimony of Steven Naumann, ComEd, ICC Docket No. 12-0560).
RICL makes much of the claim that its project will deliver renewable electricity to “states farther east,” however RICL has no customers, and has not produced any commitments or desire for its product from “states farther east.” In fact, eleven east coast governors have written to congress, ten of them twice, stating that importing renewables from other states via long distance transmission lines would hamper renewable energy and economic development in their own states. The “states farther east” do not want or need what RICL is selling.
Q:What will the project cost be and how will the Rock Island Clean Line be funded?
A: The Rock Island Clean Line is estimated to cost approximately $2 billion. Clean Line Energy intends to fund the development costs of the project and will sell transmission capacity to renewable energy generators or to the buyers of the clean energy being delivered on the line. Clean Line is not seeking any federal or state funding.
RICL has also shown its intention to ask for regional cost allocation for its transmission project. RICL has proposed in filings with PJM and FERC that its project could be considered a reliability or market efficiency project under PJM’s planning process and that the company may bid the project in future transmission opportunity windows. If RICL is successful in having all or part of its project regionally allocated, all PJM ratepayers could be ordered to fund the project, including those in Illinois. If ordered to be built for reliability or economic reasons by PJM, RICL would be eligible to apply for federal transmission incentives, including return on equity adders and guaranteed recovery in the event of project abandonment. The financing and cost of RICL is not certain.
Q:Will Illinois ratepayers have to pay for the transmission line? Will rates go up because of the Rock Island Clean Line?
A: No. There is currently no method for Rock Island Clean Line to charge Illinois ratepayers for the cost to build the Rock Island Clean Line. If any such way were to be developed in the future, Rock Island Clean Line has agreed to re-apply to the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) for permission in a new proceeding to do so.
If RICL were to “develop” a way to charge Illinois ratepayers for its project in the future, that way would be through regional cost allocation via the PJM tariff. The Illinois Commerce Commission has no authority to deny PJM’s assignment of cost responsibility for a project, and therefore its “permission” is not necessary.
There are three potential sources of money to fund transmission lines: government money, ratepayer money ("cost allocation"), or private money (merchant projects). The Rock Island Clean Line is not using government, or taxpayer, funds. There are no government subsidies available for transmission lines. The Rock Island Clean Line is not using ratepayer money. There is no mechanism to allocate the costs for a project like Rock Island to ratepayers. Rock Island is utilizing a merchant model (private money) whereby only those wind energy developers or utilities that use the line will pay for it.
The Rock Island Clean Line will decrease wholesale electricity prices for Illinois consumers. In fact, the project will reduce wholesale electricity prices in Illinois by $320 million in its first year of operation, with additional savings in later years. Because electricity in Illinois is deregulated, per the law of supply and demand, Illinois residents and businesses can benefit from reduced electricity costs because the Rock Island Clean Line will significantly increase the amount of electricity supplied to Illinois.
RICL has failed to produce any reports or studies to back up its claim that it will reduce prices by $320 million. Until RICL backs this up with figures, it’s pure fiction. Any “savings” would be temporary as markets stabilize. In addition, if RICL opens new supply lines for electricity into PJM, it could cause prices to rise over the long term as cheaper electricity flows to pricier PJM markets.
Q: Can I grow crops or build anything under the transmission line?
Transmission lines can prevent aerial spraying and irrigation, and construction can damage drainage tile and compact soil. Transmission lines can also interfere with GPS equipment. So, the answer is that you can try, but you probably won’t be very successful without extra cost and effort.
A: Clean Line will acquire easements, but the land will still belong to the landowners and can be utilized for activities such as farming, grazing cattle, and other activities that do not interfere with the operation of the line. Farming of row crops can continue under the lines. There will be sufficient clearance under the transmission line to grow full-height crops, not including tree crops, and to operate standard farm equipment. Clean Line Energy must comply with the National Electric Safety Code and North American Electric Reliability Corporation Standards to ensure the safe and reliable operation of the transmission line.
Landowners will still own the land, including the burden of paying property tax on the portion containing RICL’s transmission line.
Clean Line estimates that the right-of-way needed for the Rock Island Clean Line to meet operating standards will be between 145 to 200 feet wide; however, the line will directly impact much less land than that. Property taken out of production by the transmission line foundations will typically comprise less than 1% of the easement property.
Written by Texas wind speculators, not farmers. Read with skepticism.
Q: Will landowners be compensated if the transmission line is on their property?
A: Yes. Clean Line Energy is committed to compensating landowners fairly. There are three primary components to landowner compensation: an easement payment, structure payments, and payments for damages. The total amount of compensation for landowners who have structures on their property will be more than 100% of fair market value of the easement area.
The easement payment is based on the area of the easement, calculated in acres, and the fair market value of the land within the easement. Fair market value is determined through a market study of recent sales in the county. Clean Line will pay 90% of fair market value of the easement area.
How will “fair market value” be determined? Most likely by an out-of-state appraiser who will never visit your property but will research land sales in your county and calculate an “average” of selected land sale prices to apply to your unique land.
Structure compensation is calculated based on the type of structure and the number of structures. The landowner may choose to receive either a one-time payment or a series of annual payments. Annual payments will be made as long as a structure is on the easement. The annual payments range from $500 to $1,500 per structure or the one-time payment ranges from $6,000 to $18,000 per structure. Depending on the land, and other engineering conditions, we expect 4-6 structures per mile. Other payments may be made for damages in certain circumstances such as crop damage, soil damage, irrigation or drainage interference.
Who determines “damages” and their value to the landowner? Do not sign any agreements with RICL without first consulting an attorney and tax advisor of your own choosing. You do not have to accept what RICL is prepared to offer. You may write your own compensation contract, or simply hold out and watch RICL’s offers rise the closer you get to an eminent domain condemnation proceeding. Eminent domain is an expensive, time-consuming process RICL doesn’t want to engage in. The landowner holds all the cards in negotiation!
Q: How will Clean Line address impacts of construction to farmland?
A: Rock Island will work to prevent and repair agricultural impacts associated with the construction process. Rock Island will work with landowners to identify drainage tile locations prior to construction and minimize impacts to such tile. For damages that cannot be avoided, Rock Island will decompact soil, repair or replace field tile, and take other steps as needed. Rock Island will compensate landowners for damages incurred as a result of construction or maintenance on their property. Rock Island has also committed to pay for crop damages due to construction and crop damages that may occur due to maintenance associated with the transmission line.
Rock Island Clean Line has an Agricultural Impact Mitigation Agreement with the Illinois Department of Agriculture that discusses these measures. This agreement details the extensive efforts Clean Line will make to mitigate impacts to agriculture. The Agreement is incorporated as a part of the easement agreement Rock Island Clean Line will present to landowners.
Unless all these promises are put in writing within the four corners of your signed and recorded contract with RICL, they are nothing but empty promises. In addition, which party will determine damages and define the effectiveness of repairs? Don’t trust your land to empty promises by out-of-state limited liability corporations!
Q: Will Illinois benefit from construction jobs and tax revenues from the Rock Island Clean Line?
A: Illinois will benefit from the Rock Island Clean Line in several ways. The line will be a $600 million investment in Illinois providing local jobs and tax revenues and bringing a new low-cost clean energy resource into Illinois.
Rock Island is committed to using qualified local and regional contractors whenever practical to construct and maintain the transmjssion line. Examples of local jobs resulting from the construction of the line include surveying, silt fence construction and pouring concrete. Rock Island has selected Kiewit Power to provide construction management services for the project. Kiewit cannot and will not perform the construction of the 500 mile line on its own. Kiewit has substantial expertise with using local labor and local services to assist with the construction of major infrastructure projects. Kiewit also has significant experience working with landowners to minimize the impacts of construction to existing land use and to return land to pre-construction condition. Rock Island is dedicated to preserving the productivity of farmland. Kiewit's like-minded commitment to these goals is one of the reasons we've selected them for this project. Rock Island Clean Line has also committed to using multi-craft union labor.
Ask if RICL or Kiewit have signed any legal contracts to use local/union labor. We are not aware of any. It would be prohibitively expensive for RICL or its contractor to have to negotiate with surveyors, concrete companies and silt fence installers in every town along its 500-mile length. Expect that these services will be subcontracted to another entity that may or may not employ local labor for very short term projects. RICL is committed to constructing its project as cheaply as possible, and that includes the price of labor.
While RICL may pay a minimal amount of property taxes on its infrastructure in your county, it will have a greater impact by devaluing properties to result in a lower assessed value that translates to a lower tax base to support the same level of county services.
Q: Will Rock Island use eminent domain?
A: Rock Island intends to reach fair and reasonable voluntary agreements to acquire easements from landowners, allowing plenty of time for discussion. Rock Island has not applied for eminent domain from the Illinois Commerce Commission at this point and does not intend to do so unless and until all reasonable, voluntary efforts at easement acquisition are exhausted.
RICL will not “apply for eminent domain” from the Illinois Commerce Commission. The ICC is not a court that can condemn property and take it through eminent domain. Only a court and jury of your peers in your own county can determine the amount of compensation you will receive in an eminent domain taking.
RICL claiming it does not intend to “apply” for eminent domain unless you refuse its offers is not giving the landowner a choice of whether to sell, it is a threat to agree, or else.
Rock Island has applied for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) from the Illinois Commerce Commission to operate as a public utility in Illinois. This is a requirement under Illinois law in order to construct and operate a transmission line in the state of Illinois. It is also necessary to have a CPCN prior to seeking eminent domain; however, as stated above, Rock Island does not intend to apply for eminent domain unless and until all reasonable, voluntary efforts at easement acquisition are exhausted.
A grant of CPCN and public utility status from the ICC is the power to take your property “for public use” through the courts by use of eminent domain. No further action before the ICC by RICL would be necessary.
Q. Will Rock Island take farm land out of production?
A: Rock Island will acquire easements, but the land along the route will still belong to the landowners and can be utilized for farming, hunting, and other activities that do not interfere with the reliable operation of the line. Less than 1% of the easement area that Rock Island Clean Line is seeking will be permanently taken out of agricultural production, due to the footprint of the transmission structures.
If a landowner grants an easement for the project, RICL will control the landowner’s use of the entire easement in perpetuity.
We have carefully developed a compensation package that includes an easement payment and structure payment which, when combined, will compensate landowners at or beyond 100% of fair market value of the land that comprises the easement area.
Q: Will the Rock Island Clean Line transport wind energy? Or will other fossil fuels be transmitted over the line?
A: The Rock Island Clean Line starts in an area of northwestern Iowa that has some of the best wind energy resources in the country. Wind energy is the energy resource that makes economic sense to be developed and shipped over the Rock Island Clean Line. There are other areas around the country that are better suited for the development of fossil fuel power plants - areas that would not require the developer to pay the additional expense for transmission that Clean Line will charge wind companies that choose to ship power over our line.
RICL is no different than “mine mouth” fossil fuel generation plants that burn fuel where it’s harvested and ship electricity via high voltage transmission lines to point of use. This same centralized generation and transmission method has been in use for more than 100 years. However, technologically advanced, small-scale, point of use generation, such as roof-top solar, is now revolutionizing the way we produce and use electricity and is seen by the utility industry as a “threat” to their longevity. Clean Line is a dinosaur that may never be used.
Legally, transmission companies are not allowed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to prohibit certain types of energy, but as a practical matter, wind energy is the resource that would be economically advantaged by a project like this. It would not make sense to build a fossil fuel power plant a long distance from a where the power is needed, when a developer could choose to produce the electricity much closer to the energy demand.
Fossil fuel generators have been building generation plants near fuel sources and shipping the electricity produced long distances to points of use for 100 years. Clean Line would be no different. If there is a cheaper way to produce electricity to be shipped via Clean Line, that is the kind of electricity that will flow across the lines. It also does not make sense to produce electricity from wind in Iowa and ship it to the east coast, when the east coast has a better wind resource in the Atlantic, located just 12 miles from load centers!
Q: Did east coast governors write Congress a letter opposing the Rock Island Clean Line?
A: No. In 2009, ten eastern governors did write a letter to leaders in Congress regarding renewable energy development. The governors speak to their support for renewable energy and to their opposition to subsidies for transmission lines for remote renewable resources.
That’s right! And RICL is one of those remote renewable resources that depend on transmission lines that the governors opposed in their 2010 letter! The letter opposed “..subsidizing distant terrestrial wind resources which would stifle economic recovery and growth in the East…” and perfectly describes RICL! But there were actually TWO letters, one in 2009 and one in 2010.
The proposal referenced in their letter for such subsidies was not passed into law. The letter is in fact fully supportive of projects like the Rock Island Clean Line, as the Rock Island Clean Line is not receiving any federal subsidies.
In fact, the letters opposed projects like RICL.
2009 letter Read it for yourself.
2010 letter Read it for yourself.
The governors' letter was written and sent prior to the start of development of the Rock Island Clean Line and does not mention the Rock Island Clean Line. In the letter, the governors "support the development of wind resources for the United States wherever they exist" and highlight their desire for a level playing field for renewable energy development. The Rock Island Clean Line is consistent with that level playing field for which the governors advocate in their letter.
RICL has taken great liberty with the above quote from the 2009 letter. In its entirety, here’s what the quote said, which is the exact opposite of the meaning ascribed to it by RICL:
“Current legislative proposals focused on transmission, in contrast, would designate national corridors for transmission of electricity from the Midwest to the East Coast, with the costs for that transmission allocated to all customers. While we support the development of wind resources for the United States wherever they exist, this ratepayer-funded revenue guarantee for land-based wind and other generation resources in the Great Plains would have significant, negative consequences for our region: it would hinder our efforts to meet regional renewable energy goals with regional resources and would establish financial conditions in our electricity markets that would impede development of the vast wind resources onshore and just off our shores for decades to come.”
The truth is that “states farther east” do not want or need RICL. If RICL is permitted by the ICC and built in Illinois, the landowners and ratepayers of Illinois may be stuck with an expensive, unneeded dinosaur! Say no to RICL and its dishonest portrayal of facts.