Press Releases

Press Releases

# For Immediate Release #
Contact Jennifer Gatrel
(660) 232-1280
August 16, 2016

Clean Line Project Struck Down by Appellate Court in Illinois; Challenging Procedural Schedule set in Iowa

A controversial DC transmission line proposed by Clean Line Energy suffered two major blows last week. Seven years ago the company began working toward regulatory approval to erect four transmission lines designed to carry energy to population centers far from the source. They have been met with unprecedented opposition. The company’s opposition states that the major reason for such backlash is that the private company is seeking eminent domain authority for the ability to condemn property with no benefit to their regions.

Illinois Landowners Alliance (ILA), is a not for profit opposition group devoted to blocking Clean Line’s Rock Island project, a 500 mile overhead line which would have spanned from NW Iowa to Illinois. In a highly contentious regulatory proceeding, ILA, Illinois Farm Bureau, and ComEd asked the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) to deny a certificate reserved only for public utilities to Clean Line Energy. The ICC granted the certificate to Clean Line in 2014. The opposing parties immediately appealed that decision. On August 10th  the 3rd Appellate Court ruled that the ICC erred in granting Clean Line public utility status, and, in a 3-0 unanimous decision, reversed the ICC order.

The ramifications of this court decision are grim for Clean Line. Barring unlikely, lengthy and expensive legal maneuvering, the Rock Island project cannot be built in Illinois.

“William Shay and Jonathan LA Phillips, lead attorneys for the ILA, recently helped achieve a major legal victory on behalf of a large group of landowners. In a notice published on their website, the attorneys said that the decision “…should stop the construction across individuals land in Illinois”.

Mary Mauch, Illinois Landowners Alliance Executive Director said, “We have worked a very long time to protect our private property rights from a speculative business venture looking to cash in on our heritage for their own financial gain. This legal decision to void RICL’s permit makes all that hard work worthwhile. As well, RICL’s foray into eminent domain for private gain has served to raise the public consciousness against these kinds of projects and unite communities to create strong opposition to them.”

Additionally, Clean Line tried three times to change the regulatory process in Iowa making it much less costly for the company.  The company was unsuccessful in changing the process. Last week, the Iowa Utilities Board issued an order establishing a procedural schedule which established that Clean Line must fulfill a series of requirements over the next 21 months to continue the franchise petition process. Clean Line previously stated that unless the process was changed to suit their needs it would be difficult for them to build their project.

Block Grain Belt Express groups in both Missouri and Illinois have also been fighting Clean Line’s Grain Belt Express project, a 780 mile transmission line spanning from SW Kansas to Indiana where it would connect with the grid servicing eastern states. The ramifications of the decision in the Rock Island project may prevent the project from ever proceeding.

Russ Pisciotta, President of Block Grain Belt Express stated, “We are very hopeful that these precedent setting decisions will prevent the power of eminent domain being awarded to projects while providing no benefits to the region.”

Jennifer Gatrel Vice President of Block Grain Belt stated, “The opposition to the burdensome and unnecessary project has taken a heavy toll on the thousands of people who have been active in this fight. Here in Missouri we are grateful for the money and effort put in by so many from all the states opposing Clean Line. It has been wonderful to see communities come together.”