Regulators approve portions of Illinois Rivers project

The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) on Aug. 20 approved portions of Ameren Transmission Company’s request to construct the Illinois Rivers transmission project that will stretch from the Mississippi River near Quincy, Ill., to the Indiana border near Terre Haute, Ind. (Docket No. 12-0598).

Ameren Transmission, a subsidiary of Ameren (NYSE:AEE), filed a petition with the ICC in November 2012 seeking authorization to construct, operate and maintain the 375-mile, 345-kV transmission line, and to build or expand nine substations along the route to ensure reliability of the electric transmission system and to bring in additional wind energy from the west.

The commission agreed that the line “is needed to provide adequate, reliable and efficient service and will promote a competitive electricity market by bringing in additional renewable energy resources,” the ICC said in a statement announcing the decision.

The estimated $1.1bn cost of constructing the transmission line will be shared by all customers living within the Midcontinent ISO (MISO) region rather than being borne by Ameren’s customers in Illinois alone .

In its action, the commission approved 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 on the Illinois/Indiana border. Another section runs from Meredosia to Ipava, Ill. A separate line would wrap around the southwest side of Champaign County from Rising to Sidney.

The ICC, however, denied the proposed alignment of the stretch of the project that runs through central Illinois from Pawnee to Pana to Mt. Zion, citing an “inadequate time frame to consider evidence on certain portions of the proposed transmission project.”

The ICC concluded that the company failed to provide sufficient evidence demonstrating the least-cost configuration of that portion of the route. 

The ICC also denied construction of new or expansions of existing substations at the cities of Ipava, Pana, Mt. Zion, Kansas, Sidney and Rising at this time, noting that the company did not provide sufficient evidence of need.

For its part, the company is still digesting the decision.

“Once we have studied the order in detail, we will provide further comment on this ambitious transmission project that will create jobs, enable the delivery of renewable energy and improve the reliability and efficiency of the electric power grid,” Maureen Borkowski, president and CEO of Ameren Transmission, said in a statement provided to TransmissionHub Aug. 20

Either the company or intervenors in the matter can seek a rehearing of portions of the order within 30 days of the order. The commission would then have 20 days to respond.

“If the commission were to grant rehearing, it would be on a specific issue, so additional testimony would have to come in, [along with] rebuttals, briefs, and related items, along with another proposed order,” an ICC spokesperson told TransmissionHub.

The granting of rehearing would start a 150-day clock, which would allow time for assembling and filing the necessary documentation.