Clean Line Energy signs agreement for Rock Island project

HOUSTON, TX (March 6, 2012) – Clean Line Energy Partners LLC (Clean Line) announced an agreement today between Rock Island Clean Line LLC and Southwire Company (Southwire), designating Southwire as the preferred supplier for the overhead transmission cable for the Rock Island Clean Line.  

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn along with Clean Line President, Michael Skelly and Southwire Executive VP of Operations, Jeff Herrin, announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding during a Tuesday morning news conference at the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) Regional Wind Energy Summit—Midwest.

Also speaking at the event, President of the Operating Engineers Local 150 Jim Sweeney and Secretary-Treasurer of the Chicago Federation of Labor Bob Reiter Jr.  The agreement anticipates that the cable will be produced from Southwire’s facility in Flora, Illinois, and results from the strong support of the State of Illinois for renewable energy development.  

The Rock Island Clean Line transmission line project will consist of an approximate 500-mile overhead, high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line that will deliver 3,500 megawatts of renewable power from Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota to communities and businesses in Illinois and other states to the east.  

The line will end near Morris, Illinois where it will interconnect with the PJM system.

“Illinois is a leader in the renewable energy sector, and agreements like these are helping make Illinois even more competitive,” Governor Pat Quinn said. “These cutting-edge projects will help maintain Illinois’ national leadership in wind energy and manufacturing, and create good paying, home-grown jobs.”

Southwire’s Flora, Illinois plant has over 40 years of experience in the design and manufacturing of transmission cable. The plant currently has more than 100 employees in Illinois. In order to align with Clean Line’s construction schedule, the Flora, Illinois, facility expects to produce cable over a 12 to 14 month period of time. Construction of the Rock Island Clean Line could begin as early as 2014 and may continue over the next few years.  Clean Line’s potential future supply order from Southwire could be worth $70 million or more depending on commodity prices and other variables. Southwire is also an industry leader in the production of wire and cable used throughout wind farms,  including  for underground power collection systems. 

“We  are  very  pleased  that  Clean  Line  has  chosen  to  work  with  Southwire  as  they  prepare  for  the construction of the Rock Island Clean Line HVDC line.  Such projects help to address the infrastructure needs that are critical to delivering renewable power to the  population  centers  in  the Midwest,”  stated Charlie Murrah, President of Southwire’s Energy Division.  “Transmission cable demand of this magnitude enables Southwire to continue its 60+ year leadership position in energy cable manufacturing and to contribute to the vitality of communities in which we operate such as Flora, Illinois.”

In addition to an estimated $1.7 billion in direct costs for the Rock Island Clean Line HVDC itself, the Rock Island Clean Line will make possible approximately $7 billion worth of investments in new wind energy projects, which today cannot be constructed due to the lack of transmission. As a result of the new wind farms that will be constructed, with its normal market penetration, Southwire could realize additional benefits from $30 million or more in additional sales by producing and selling cables that are used within the turbine,  placed  down the tower and buried underground for the power collections systems. Completion of the Rock Island Clean Line should also lead to increased employment for other Illinois wind energy manufacturing companies. 

According to the American Wind Energy Association, at least 28 facilities in Illinois currently manufacture components for the wind energy industry and over one thousand workers in Illinois are employed in the wind industry.  In addition, the Rock Island Clean Line will create hundreds of direct construction jobs in Illinois during the line’s construction phase.The Rock Island Clean Line will allow Illinois greater access to low-cost clean wind energy and will deliver enough energy to power more than 1.4 million Midwest homes. Clean Line estimates that property taxes on the transmission lines will generate millions of dollars annually in Illinois and will be distributed to counties where the line is routed.

Clean Line President Michael Skelly said, “Clean Line Energy is committed to sourcing as many of the needed materials as possible from local companies in the Rock Island Clean Line project area.  We are excited to work with Southwire on a project that will power Illinois homes and businesses with clean energy.  We believe it is increasingly important to invest in energy infrastructure in order to contribute to local economies, create new jobs in America and improve energy security.”  He also added by stating, “We look forward to continuing to work with Illinois authorities, state leaders and communities as our project moves forward.”