The Illinois Commerce Commission approved an order granting Clean Line Energy a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity to construct and operate the Illinois portion of the 780-mile direct current Grain Belt Express Clean Line. The power line will deliver 4,000 MW of low-cost wind power to Illinois, Missouri, and neighboring states.
Another Clean Line transmission project also under development by the same company won approval by the DOE last week. That line will bring renewable energy from Oklahoma’s Panhandle to Tennessee and other Mid-South states.
The Grain Belt Express Clean Line will strengthen and modernize Illinois’ power grid while promoting competition in the state’s energy market. The project will bring about $700 million of private investment to the state of Illinois, create about 1,500 jobs and support Illinois manufacturing.
“The ICC approval brings the Grain Belt Express Clean Line one step closer to dramatically increasing the low-cost wind energy available to customers in Missouri and Illinois,” said Michael Skelly, President of Clean Line Energy. “We appreciate the ICC’s careful review of our application and are encouraged by Illinois’ recognition of the public benefits brought forth by this critical infrastructure project.”
Illinois joins Kansas and Indiana by providing the needed regulatory approvals for the transmission line. Clean Line will focus on advancing the project in Missouri, the final state where it needs approval.
The project will deliver enough low-cost, clean energy to power about 1.6 million homes and will reduce wholesale power prices in Illinois by an estimated $750 million in the first five years of operation. Clean Line is also committed to supporting local businesses and has designated Southwire Company a preferred supplier for wire for the transmission line. Southwire will manufacture the wire at its plant in Flora, Illinois.
Clean Line submitted its application and proposed route to the ICC in April, after spending three years gathering input from community leaders and considering hundreds of potential routing alternatives. The ICC approved the proposed route of the Grain Belt Express Clean Line with one modification initiated by landowners in Pike County.
Over the last year, Clean Line held dozens of public meetings in communities throughout the nine-county project area in central Illinois. More than 3,000 landowners and other stakeholders attended the meetings and many provided feedback to help develop the route in a way that has the least amount of impact. The route approved by the ICC would travel through Pike, Scott, Greene, Macoupin, Montgomery, Christian, Shelby, Cumberland and Clark counties. Clark County will also host the converter station, which will convert the electricity to Alternating Current to feed into the local electricity grids.
In addition, counties in the project area will receive direct payments estimated at more than $33 million over the first 20 years of the project’s operation, which can be used for public programs and services. Clean Line also will make separate arrangements to compensate counties and townships for use of their roads during construction.