Illinois regulators to consider order that leaves gap in Illinois Rivers project

Illinois regulators on Aug. 20 will vote on a proposed order that would approve two segments of Ameren Transmission Company’s Illinois Rivers transmission project but deny the proposed alignment of a third segment, leaving that portion open for rehearing and further adjustment (Docket No. 12-0598).

The proposed order issued July 3 by two administrative law judges (ALJs) with the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) approves proposed routes for the portions of the project that extend from Quincy, Ill., on the Mississippi River to Pawnee, south of Springfield, and from Mt. Zion southeast of Decatur to Terre Haute, Ind., on the Illinois/Indiana border. The proposed order denies the proposed alignment of the stretch of the project that runs through central Illinois from Pawnee to Pana to Mt. Zion.

“The proposed order said the project is necessary and needs to be built; however, [the order] basically concluded that more study is needed to determine the proper route” for the third segment, a spokesperson for Ameren Transmission told TransmissionHub Aug. 16.

If the five-member commission accepts the recommended order as written and denies the alignment of the central portion, then it will also need to specify a mechanism for determining what the final route will be. That could be decided when the commission votes, if it accepts the recommendation on the draft order to deny routing for the third segment, the spokesperson said. Conversely, should the commission decide to approve one of the proposed routes for the third segment, then no such mechanism would be necessary.

Should the ICC accept the proposed order, it would then issue a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) for the approved portions of the project. In that case, the company is poised to move forward with the portions of the project that are given the green light.

“If there’s a route approved between Quincy and Pawnee … and between Mt. Zion and the Indiana state line, then we could move ahead with those,” the spokesperson said, adding that denying the route proposed for one portion of the project, “would not mean that the project would be put on hold, not by any means.”

Further, because the proposed order states that the project is necessary, approving the order would amount to an acknowledgement of the need for the segment between Pawnee and Mt. Zion; it would then just be a matter of determining a routing acceptable to the commission.

If the order is adopted and a rehearing is allowed on portions of the route, the commission would have another 150 days to consider the routes for those sections.

Ameren Transmission Company is a subsidiary of Ameren (NYSE:AEE).