Clean Line to adjust portion of Rock Island route in northwestern Iowa

Clean Line Energy is proposing adjustments to portions of the route for the Rock Island Clean Line (RICL) through O’Brien County in northwestern Iowa to avoid a planned 218-turbine wind farm which itself has seen turbine locations changed from those originally proposed (Docket Nos. E-22123 – 38).

“As we were finalizing the route, Invenergy and [wind project co-developer] MidAmerican Energy were finalizing their turbine locations,” Michael Skelly, founder and president of Clean Line Energy, told TransmissionHub Dec. 26. “Their turbine locations presented a few conflicts with the [preferred] route.” 

The route adjustment is minimal; only a few miles, according to Skelly. However, because the adjustment takes the line outside the broader notification corridors originally proposed, Clean Line was required to go back before the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) and hold an informational meeting with landowners who could be affected by the new routing.

“Informational meetings are required by Iowa law before a utility can go out and negotiate for easements,” Jim Sundermeyer, utilities regulation engineer with the IUB, told TransmissionHub. “Within Iowa law, a company can’t file a petition [for electric franchise] until at least 30 days after an informational meeting so the petition in the actual case hasn’t been filed yet.”

Clean Line held its informational meeting Dec. 13 and will therefore be able to file its petition for electric franchise for the new route as early as Jan. 13.

“This is a minor change” that should not affect either the estimated cost or in-service date of the project, Skelly said.

The 600-kV HVDC power line is proposed to extend approximately 500 miles from a converter station in O’Brien County, Iowa, extend across Iowa and enter Illinois south of Cordova, Ill. It would continue into Illinois for approximately 121 miles, interconnect with PJM Interconnection’s extra-high voltage transmission system in Grundy County, Ill., and terminate at a proposed converter station in Channahon, Ill., about 50 miles southwest of Chicago.

As proposed, the $1.7bn project would be capable of delivering 3,500 MW of power from renewable energy projects located in northwestern Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota to load centers east of the Mississippi River. Construction could start as early as 2015, with the line entering service in 2017.