The Rock Island Clean Line will make possible billions of dollars of investments in new renewable energy projects that could not otherwise be built due to the limitations of the existing electric transmission grid. This project will bring about tremendous rural economic development, create thousands of construction jobs, and dramatically reduce carbon dioxide pollutants by millions of tons. In addition, the collective wind farms made possible by the transmission line will incentivize the manufacturing of wind turbines and enable significant financial contribution to local communities through employment opportunities, property taxes and landowner royalties. State and local governments can use these additional tax revenues to support local community needs, such as improvements to schools, hospitals, fire departments and police services.
In addition to job creation benefits, consumers in Illinois and states to the east—both residential customers and businesses—will benefit from the lower prices resulting from the significantly increased competition that the project will bring; and high voltage direct current transmission line technology will enable the direct delivery of clean power at a competitive cost.
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The Rock Island Clean Line is estimated to provide more than 5,000 construction jobs and more than 500 permanent jobs to maintain and operate the wind farms and the transmission line. In addition to these jobs, the Rock Island Clean Line will spur increased employment opportunities in many sectors including manufacturing of turbines, towers and cable, as well as hospitality and education.
The project will make possible more than $7 billion of new renewable energy projects. This new investment will result in a significant increase in property tax revenues, landowner royalty payments and direct economic benefit to rural communities.
Because wind farms typically do not generate 100% of the amount of electricity that they are designed to produce, the Rock Island Clean Line will likely connect wind farms that collectively have a capacity that totals more than the transmission line is designed to carry. Therefore, while the Rock Island Clean Line is capable of transmitting 3,500 megawatts (MW), it is estimated that, depending on advances in technology, the project will likely make possible more than 4,000 MW of new renewable power projects that would otherwise not be built due to limitations of the existing electric transmission grid. 4,000 MW is as much as 40% of all new wind generation installed nationwide in 2009, which was an all-time record year for the wind industry.
More than 1.4 million homes in the U.S. Midwest will be powered by the clean, renewable energy generated as a result of this project.
Wind energy generation allows other generators to run less and burn less fuel, eliminating the need for the equivalent amount of energy derived from fossil fuels, thereby reducing pollution. For more on the environmental benefits of the Rock Island Clean Line, please visit our environmental studies page.
The Rock Island Clean Line will bring a new clean energy source to the market in Illinois and states farther east. Increasing energy supply will have the potential to reduce consumers' electric bills. For more on the consumer benefits to Illinois consumers, please click here.
The construction and operation of the Rock Island Clean Line, and the new wind farms that the line will enable to be built, will result in large increases in state and local government tax revenues.
By utilizing direct current technology, the Rock Island Clean Line will complement the existing alternating current (AC) system. Direct current transmission lines are more efficient than comparable voltage AC lines, with substantially lower energy losses when moving large amounts of power over long distances. It also serves to improve the reliability and security of the electric supply, while using narrower easements (less land) than comparable AC lines. This will result in less acreage affected by the new line, less effect on the way farmers and ranchers use their land, and less visual impact.