Rock Island Clean Line files with FERC seeking negotiated rate authority

HOUSTON (November 8, 2011) – Rock Island Clean Line LLC (Clean Line) has filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) seeking negotiated rate authority for the Rock Island Clean Line transmission project. 

The Rock Island Clean Line is a 500-mile overhead high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line that will run from northwest Iowa to an area near Morris, Illinois. The project will deliver 3,500 megawatts of the best wind energy resources in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota to communities in Illinois and other states to the east, areas that have a strong demand for clean, reliable energy. 

Receiving this authority will allow Clean Line to negotiate market based rates with potential customers of the line, likely load serving entities or wind developers. In this filing, Clean Line is seeking the authority to subscribe up to 75% of the line’s capacity with anchor tenants, with unsubscribed capacity filled through an open season process. The anchor tenants will receive guaranteed capacity outside of the competitive process; however, the same terms and pricing will be offered in the open season. Clean Line also seeks a preference for renewable energy generation, such that when evaluating potential customers, one criterion that will be considered is whether the energy the customer plans to ship on the line is derived from renewable energy resources.

“We have made significant progress on the development of the Rock Island Clean Line since its inception in early 2010,” said Michael Skelly, Clean Line Energy President. “After over 300 meetings with stakeholders, including a series of 26 open houses where we invited over 40,000 potential landowners to collect feedback on routing options, and substantial progress on engineering and design, the timing is appropriate to submit an application with FERC seeking approval to begin negotiating rates with potential customers. We look forward to working with our stakeholders as we continue to develop the Rock Island Clean Line in a responsible and transparent manner.” 

In its application, Clean Line addresses the following standards: the justness and reasonableness of rates; the potential for undue discrimination; the potential for undue preference, including affiliate preference; and regional reliability and operational efficiency requirements. Clean Line also describes why granting its request, as detailed in the application, will be in the public interest.

“Nearly 30 states have enacted policies to ramp up reliance on clean renewable power, but we need new transmission to meet those goals cost-effectively,” said Rebecca Stanfield, Senior Energy Advocate with the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Midwest Program. “While we and many other organizations are still reviewing the route options under consideration by Clean Line, we strongly support the goal of creating a direct link between the abundant clean wind energy resources and customers in the major population centers.”

Before the end of this year, Clean Line will host several open houses in Illinois to introduce local contractors to the Rock Island Clean Line and to explore opportunities to utilize local businesses for construction of the project; local contractor open houses in Iowa will follow next year. In June of 2011, Clean Line signed an exclusive agreement with Siemens to provide HVDC technology solutions for the Rock Island Clean Line transmission project. In addition to providing detailed technical expertise, under the development agreement, Siemens and Clean Line will work together to develop, design, and implement the HVDC converter stations for this important infrastructure project. Also in the summer of 2011, Clean Line acquired 2007-vintage interconnection queue positions that have advanced steadily through the regional merchant transmission study process. These queue positions will greatly accelerate the interconnection process for the Rock Island Clean Line.

Developing a project of this scale is a long-term undertaking; the approximately $1.7 billion project is expected to achieve commercial operation in 2016 or 2017. For more information about the Rock Island Clean Line, please visit www.rockislandcleanline.com.