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The Rock Island Clean Line is an approximately 500-mile, overhead, high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line currently under development. When constructed, the project will support the nation’s critical infrastructure, helping power our homes, communities, and the clean energy economy. The line will be capable of transmitting up to 3,500 megawatts of new renewable energy from northwest Iowa and bordering states, to communities in Illinois and states farther east.
Clean Line Energy is an independent transmission company solely focused on providing transmission solutions to connect clean energy to communities and cities that have a need for low-cost renewable power.
While the United States has some of the best and most cost-effective renewable resources in the world, they are predominately located far from population centers. The challenge lies in transporting the energy generated from these resources to the communities that need the power. Clean Line is addressing the challenge by developing the Rock Island Clean Line and three other long distance transmission lines.
Clean Line’s leadership team includes executives who have managed, built, and financed ambitious renewable and traditional energy projects around the world.
The Rock Island Clean Line is estimated to cost approximately $2.0 billion. Clean Line Energy intends to fund the development costs of the project and will sell transmission capacity to renewable energy generators or to the buyers of the clean energy being delivered on the line.
No, Clean Line Energy only develops transmission lines. Clean Line Energy is independent from existing or planned wind energy generation. This independence allows for single-minded focus on meeting the needs of the project’s many stakeholders through a transparent development effort.
Clean Line Energy is developing several projects across the United States – each dedicated to connecting the country’s best renewable energy resources to communities and cities with a demand for renewable power. A subsidiary of Clean Line Energy Partners LLC, Rock Island Clean Line LLC is the company developing the Rock Island project.
The Rock Island Clean Line will consist of an overhead, high voltage direct current transmission line that will be capable of transmitting up to 3,500 megawatts of energy. The project will deliver enough clean, renewable energy to meet the needs of over 1.4 million American homes.
The Rock Island Clean Line is expected to take a total of seven to eight years to complete. Outreach, permitting, regulatory, and right-of-way activities will take four to five years and construction will require approximately two-three years. For more detailed information about our project timeline, please click here.
Construction is slated to begin in 2014/2015. For more detailed information about our development schedule, please click here.
After more than two and a half years of work, Clean Line identified a preferred route and, in certain areas proposed alternative routes, for the Illinois portion of the Rock Island Clean Line transmission project. In October 2012 Clean Line filed an application with the Illinois Commerce Commission seeking approval to construct the transmission line along the preferred route.
Maps of the Illinois routes can be found here.
In Iowa, Clean Line has identified study corridors. The study corridors are 3-10 mile wide areas that are being considered to determine a route for the transmission line in Iowa.
A map of the Iowa study corridors can found here.
Clean Line Energy is developing the Rock Island Clean Line in a methodical, transparent and collaborative manner and will work with landowners, governmental agencies and community officials in order to come up with the best project possible. Siting a new transmission line is a lengthy and complex process that requires the evaluation of many factors and interests. Clean Line Energy has met with many federal, state and local governmental-elected officials, community leaders and conservation and agricultural advocates, as well as the officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Army Corps of Engineers and numerous state agencies to obtain their input on the best route from an environmental and land use perspective. Clean Line Energy has conducted an extensive public outreach process that includes working with communities, landowners and other stakeholders to determine the best route for the transmission line. Clean Line Energy believes that such a process, where input is sought from those involved with the project, is critical to the ultimate success of the Rock Island Clean Line. For more detailed information about our routing process, please click here.
During the route determination process, Clean Line Energy considers hundreds of different potential route segments and to date has held hundreds of meetings throughout Iowa and Illinois to introduce the project and seek feedback on our routing options. In Illinois this effort included two rounds of public open house meetings, a series of community roundtable meetings, and dozens of visits with government agencies, agricultural and conservation organizations, other stakeholders and the media.
We have evaluated a substantial amount of information concerning potential routes and applied an extensive list of routing criteria in order to choose a route in Illinois that we believe will best minimize impacts to the surrounding area. Our routing criteria include objectives such as minimizing the number of homes within certain distances of the transmission line, and minimizing impacts to state parks, natural areas, and historic areas, while also minimizing impacts that are of particular importance to agriculture such as impacts to center pivot irrigators or agricultural preservation areas. More information on the routing criteria can be found here.
The project will be managed by a team of Clean Line Energy's employees who have developed, built and financed ambitious projects in the renewable and traditional energy sectors, as well as senior policy professionals who shaped energy policy and advanced the renewable energy agenda at the state and national levels.
Clean Line has selected Kiewit Power as the construction advisor for the project and anticipates that Kiewit will manage the construction process. Clean Line and Kiewit Power are committed to using local businesses and local labor as much as possible in the construction of the line. In 2011 and 2012 Clean Line and Kiewit Power hosted a series of local businesses open houses across Iowa and Illinois to introduce the project and learn about the capabilities of local companies that could provide services related to the construction of the line.
A list of potential components and services needed during construction can be found here.
If you are interested participating in the development, construction, and/or operation of the line, help us to understand your business capabilities by providing your information here.
Rock Island Clean Line LLC will be responsible for maintenance of the line. Like all other transmission lines, the Rock Island Clean Line will likely be controlled by one of the regional transmission organizations (RTO). RTOs are responsible for planning and coordinating the transfer of energy over large interstate areas. An RTO controls and monitors an electricity transmission grid that is larger and uses much higher voltages than the typical power company’s distribution grid.
People and communities across the project area will benefit from the Rock Island Clean Line. Consumers in Illinois—both residential customers and businesses—will benefit from the lower prices resulting from the increased competition that the project will bring. The project will support major new wind farm construction in Iowa, and will create jobs across Illinois and Iowa through the actual construction of the transmission line, through the manufacturing of the components for the transmission line, and through the construction and manufacturing of the wind turbines needed to supply the line. Both Iowa and Illinois are home to dozens of companies that serve the wind industry.
Additionally, local governments will typically benefit from increased tax revenues from both the transmission line infrastructure and the supporting wind farms. Landowners will benefit from the tens of millions that will be paid for right-of-way, and will be able to continue to use their land for agricultural production and other purposes. Citizens across the region will benefit from cleaner air and water as a result of the new wind energy enabled by the Rock Island project, as that energy will displace more polluting forms of electric generation. For more detailed information about the benefits of the Rock Island Clean Line, please click here.
Rock Island will bring clear benefits to Illinois’ electricity markets by delivering to Illinois customers about three times the amount of energy produced annually by the Hoover Dam. Once delivered into Illinois, the power may be consumed in Illinois, or it may travel outside the state to other customers. But Illinois customers would benefit in either case. One way to understand why this is true is to think about corn markets. Farmers understand that several bumper crops of corn in a row, all other things being equal, will lower corn prices, as supply grows relative to demand. If Rock Island delivers a bumper crop of wind energy into Illinois markets, Illinois consumers benefit from lower prices. Whether that power, after delivery into Illinois, is consumed in Illinois, or goes outside the state for consumption, Illinois consumers still capture the benefit of that supply.
The Rock Island Clean Line will bring substantial economic benefits throughout the project region. It is estimated that the Rock Island Clean Line will result in more than 5,000 construction jobs and more than 500 permanent jobs maintaining and operating the transmission line and the associated wind farms. Additionally, businesses will see increased demand for their products and services, particularly those involved with services, materials and equipment to be used in construction of the project and the associated wind farms, as well as retail and hospitality industries.
Rock Island Clean Line LLC will be regulated by the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) and the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC). As a transmission owner and operator, Rock Island Clean Line LLC will also be regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. In addition, Rock Island Clean Line LLC will be required to obtain permits from a variety of state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will have oversight of the terms and conditions of service and the rates charged and will have a role in ensuring that the project's transmission lines are operated on a non-discriminatory basis. In May 2012 Clean Line received a key approval from FERC to begin negotiating with customers.
A stakeholder is defined as any person interested in the Rock Island Clean Line, including, but not limited to: individual landowners; federal, state and local government entities and agencies; tribal organizations; elected officials; local businesses and business organizations; non-governmental organizations; and civic and community organizations.
Clean Line will seek to acquire transmission line easements to construct, operate and maintain the transmission line. We will use a stakeholder outreach process that is methodical, transparent, and compliant with each state’s differing laws and regulations. Right-of-way agreements will be negotiated individually with each landowner and will depend on many factors including, but not limited to:
Our team of professionals and consultants are experienced in the industry, particularly in building relationships with landowners. It is our goal to work proactively with the communities and landowners that will be affected. We will be available to address stakeholders’ concerns at every point throughout this process.
Clean Line Energy requires that all of its representatives follow a Code of Conduct, which provides that each representative treat every landowner with consideration and respect. The Code of Conduct can be found here. In addition, Clean Line Energy strives to build and maintain long-lasting relationships with all landowners and stakeholders by working in a respectful and collaborative manner for the life of the project.
Iowa: Pursuant to Iowa regulations, Clean Line cannot discuss compensation for easements in Iowa at this time. Rock Island is committed to treating landowners fairly in acquiring easements on their land.
Illinois: In Illinois, assuming that at least one structure is placed on a parcel of land, most landowners will receive compensation totaling more than 100% of the fair market value of the easement area, even though permanent impacts of the transmission line will comprise less than 1% of the easement property, and the balance of the easement property will be available for crop production. Based on today’s local land prices, easement widths and structure types, it is likely that we will offer between $150,000 and $200,000 per typical mile of right-of-way in agricultural areas in Illinois.
For more detail on Rock Island’s proposed land compensation package, please click here.
The land under the transmission line can typically be used for crop production and pasture/grazing lands. For a simulation of what the transmission line might look like passing through agricultural fields, please click here.
Clean Line Energy must comply with the National Electric Safety Code to ensure the safety of the general public and North American Electric Reliability Corporation Standards to ensure the reliable operation of the transmission line. As a result, there are restrictions on the placement of structures and growing tall trees underneath the transmission line.
It is not practical to tie in wind farms along the route of the HVDC line because the intermediate collection points are very difficult to justify economically. HVDC lines are like “express” lines, suitable for long-haul transmission of electricity but not for short distances. HVDC lines are typically the best choice for distances over several hundred miles and minimize land use impacts on such routes. In the case of the Rock Island Clean Line, the wind energy facilities will connect at the western end of the line and the energy will be delivered directly to Illinois at the other end of the HVDC line.
The electricity transmitted by the Rock Island Clean Line is a much higher voltage than the local transmission and distribution grid that provides electricity to homes and businesses. Therefore, end users cannot get their electricity directly from the project, but rather must rely on their utilities to supply power at appropriate voltage levels. The renewable power delivered by the Rock Island Clean Line will be delivered to consumers through the existing transmission and distribution grid.
HVDC stands for high voltage direct current. The electric grid is made up almost exclusively of alternating current (AC) transmission and distribution lines. HVDC is widely considered the most efficient method to connect large amounts of energy to distant electricity areas that have a strong demand for the power. HVDC lines can transfer significantly more power with greater efficiency than comparable AC lines. For more detailed information about HVDC, please click here.
High voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission is a proven technology that has been around since the 1930s and the birth of the modern electric industry. HVDC is already in use in the United States and throughout the world. Currently, there are more than 20 HVDC transmission facilities in the United States and more than 35 across the North American grid. For more detailed information about the history of HVDC technology, please click here.
High voltage direct current transmission (HVDC) is a proven technology that has been around since the 1930s and the birth of the modern electric industry. HVDC is already in use in the United States and throughout the world. Currently, there are more than 20 HVDC transmission facilities in the United States and more than 35 across the North American grid.
High voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission lines have smaller structures and require less land than AC lines to deliver an equivalent amount of energy. From a power grid operator perspective, HVDC gives grid operators complete control of energy flow. HVDC lines are not a replacement for the AC grid, and the AC grid in the Midwest and across our nation also requires significant expansion. HVDC complements the existing AC transmission network and can be an additional source for system stability and reliability.
High voltage direct current (HVDC) is the preferred technology for moving large amounts of power over long distances. The use of HVDC transmission line results in overall higher efficiency and reliability than an equivalently sized alternating current line to move the same amount of power, therefore offering significant electrical, economic and environmental advantages. These advantages include lower power losses on the line, better land use due to smaller tower structures, and the ability to control the power flow.
The Rock Island Clean Line will be an overhead electric transmission line. Transmission structures will typically be tubular monopole or lattice towers, each made of steel; however we have not yet determined which structure will be the primary type. We have maintained flexibility so that land owner concerns, terrain, land use, project costs, and other relevant factors can be considered. It is likely that a mix of structure types will be used. Lattice structures can be spaced farther apart, resulting in fewer structure placements per mile, but the foundation for lattice structures takes up more space. Therefore, higher payments will be offered to landowners where lattice structures are used than where monopoles are used.
For a simulation of what the transmission towers might look like, please click here.
There are many factors that must be considered when determining the structures including terrain requirements and land-use constraints (for instance center pivot irrigation systems). Clean Line Energy is currently analyzing a variety of structures ranging from steel monopole structures, steel lattice designs, and hybrid steel-concrete structures. Ultimately, we value landowner input and will take the landowner feedback and preference into consideration to select the structures. Preferred structures may not be known until final route determination.
Right-of-way refers to the actual land area acquired for a specific purpose, such as the location of a transmission line. Clean Line Energy will be acquiring easements; the land underneath the wires will be able to be utilized by the landowner for certain activities such as farming, grazing cattle, and other activities that do not interfere with the operation of the line. When determining the width of the right-of-way, it is necessary to understand the amount of space needed for appropriate safety clearances to the ground and for the side-to-side movement of conductors due to wind.
Clean Line Energy estimates the right-of-way for its HVDC projects will generally be between 145 and 200 feet; this is largely determined by terrain, clearance issues and how closely structures are placed to each other. Typically, the farther apart the structures, the wider the right-of-way to allow for side to side movement of the conductors due to wind.
The converter station for an HVDC transmission line looks similar to a typical electric substation; however there is also a building that hosts the converter valves in an enclosed environment. The converter station will take up between 40 and 60 fenced-in acres and is typically located near its point of interconnection to the AC grid.
The cost and complexity of underground transmission systems are justified primarily at short distances in heavily populated downtown urban centers where right-of-way and space is severely limited for overhead lines. The underground application is untested for the power and voltage levels that Clean Line Energy is proposing for its long haul HVDC lines. Clean Line Energy is proposing overhead lines because of efficiency, reliability and cost. Underground lines also result in a more significant land impact to the right-of-way due to the trenches that would need to be dug.
The cost and complexity of underground transmission systems are justified primarily at short distances in heavily populated downtown urban centers where right-of-way and space is severely limited for overhead lines. The underground application is untested for the power and voltage levels that Clean Line Energy is proposing for its long haul HVDC lines. Clean Line Energy is proposing overhead lines because of efficiency, reliability and cost. Underground transmission lines generally cost 10-15 times as much as overhead lines.
EMF stands for electromagnetic field. Electric fields are produced by voltage, which is the electrical pressure that drives an electric current through a circuit. Magnetic fields are produced by current, which is the movement or flow of electricity. EMFs are naturally present in the environment and are present wherever electricity is used (e.g., a toaster, cell phone, wristwatch, a lamp, a computer, etc.). The earth has both magnetic fields produced by currents in the molten core of the planet and an electric field produced by electrical activity in the atmosphere, such as thunderstorms. To learn more about EMF and HVDC transmission, please click here.
Clean Line Energy is committed to working extensively with landowners to minimize the impacts of the project to current land use. Clean Line Energy will establish an Independent Agricultural Inspector during the construction phase of the project. The role of the Inspector is to act as an intermediary between the construction contractor and the agricultural landowners along the route. The Inspector will have access to information regarding the easements and other land rights granted by the landowners to Clean Line Energy, and will be available to landowners in the event that actual construction practices in the field diverge from the stated agreements. Because the Inspector will report to Clean Line Energy directly, rather than to the construction contractor, the Inspector will be independent from the internal supervisory chain of the construction contractor, and will be authorized to order the construction contractor to change its practices and to stop work in the event of a divergence between the land agreements and practices in the field. Clean Line Energy anticipates that the existence of the Inspector will help to avoid common construction-related disputes between landowners and the constructors of infrastructure projects, and is pleased to bring this best practice to Illinois and Iowa.
Clean Line Energy will also take proactive steps to address potential damage to farm drainage tile and irrigation equipment. In the case of drainage tile, we will send out letters to landowners inquiring whether support structures would impact tile systems, and, when notified of such systems, will work to adjust structure locations to the extent reasonably possible and to relocate new drainage tile where necessary. Tiles will be repaired with materials of at least the same quality as was damaged, and so that they operate as well after construction as before construction. In the case of irrigation equipment, Clean Line Energy has already considered minimizing impacts to center pivot irrigators as a routing criterion, and will continue to work to minimize impacts both in terms of construction activities that may cause an irrigator to be temporarily out of service and in terms of permanent impacts relating to the placement of the structures. Clean Line Energy will negotiate compensation for any crop damages that result from irrigation system interruptions and will negotiate other appropriate compensations for any permanent impacts as well. Furthermore, we will restore rutted or compacted land as nearly as practical to its pre-construction condition.
Clean Line Energy has agreed to Agricultural Impact Mitigation Policies with the Illinois Department of Agriculture. These policies cover how we will treat and restore any agricultural land impacted by construction of the transmission line. Those policies can be found here. Clean Line Energy will abide by similar policies in Iowa.
Clean Line Energy will provide compensation for damages to crops and drainage tile caused by construction of the project.
Clean Line Energy is working to be a good environmental steward. We are accountable to state and federal agencies regarding our environmental impacts. We are conducting extensive outreach to environmental advocate organizations such as The Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, and other similar organizations to get input as to areas of concern.
Livestock can live directly under the line. An extensive study was conducted on the impacts of a direct current transmission line to dairy cattle in Minnesota. The study considered multiple indicators of herd health and found no impacts. Milk production per cow, reproductive efficiency, and milk fat content did not differ in the periods before and after a DC line was energized, nor did they differ if a herd was close to or far from the DC line. The title of that study is: Epidemiologic study of Holstein dairy cow performance and reproduction near a high-voltage direct-current powerline (Martin FB, Bender A, Steurnagel G, Robinson RA, et al.).
Additionally, due to the nature of a direct current line, which cannot induce voltages in nearby objects, there can be no stray voltage resulting from a direct current line.
We have received questions from stakeholders asking for information about potential interactions between HVDC transmission lines and various electronic devices and implanted medical devices. Clean Line commissioned a whitepaper to aggregate and summarize research conducted on these topics. Information about television and radio reception, cell phones, wireless internet, and global positioning system (GPS) satellite receivers is discussed in the section on electric fields. The section on magnetic fields discusses standards throughout the world and research regarding potential effects on implanted medical devices. At the end of the whitepaper is bibliographical information for all the studies referenced or summarized. To view that study, please click here.