Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2013, 8:46 pm
RICo finance panel to consider deal for transmission line
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By Eric Timmons, email@example.com
An agreement to let a high-powered electric transmission line be routed through northern Rock Island County is expected to come to the county board for a vote next month.
The proposed $2 billion, 500-mile Rock Island Clean Line woulddeliver 3,500 megawatts of wind energy produced in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota to communities in Illinois and states to the east.
At a meeting Tuesday, Rock Island County Board members approved sending an agreement with Rock Island Clean Line LLC, a subsidiary of Clean Line Energy Partners, to the county's finance committee for consideration.
The finance committee must approve the agreement before it would reach the full board.The proposed 20-year deal would pay the county $7,000 per mile of the transmission line that runs through the county.
At regional public meetings, Clean Line representatives have touted the project as a job creator and one that would produce revenue for counties and farms.Rock Island County Board member Ken "Moose" Maranda, D-Milan, supports the project and said he thinks a majority of the county board shares his opinion.
In addition to the transmission agreement, Mr. Maranda said the county board also must approve oversize load permits for county roads.Building the transmission line will require heavy loads to be hauled on rural roads, with permits also needed from townships, Mr. Maranda said.
The exact route for the project has yet to be set, but Mr. Maranda anticipates it would cut through about 10 miles of the county.
Rock Island County Board member Chris Filbert, R-Cordova, is the only board member whose district would have the transmission line. She opposes it.
"None of the landowner that have properties on the route are in favor of this," she said. "There's also opposition from the Farm Bureau."
The proposed transmission line also could run through Henry, Whiteside and LaSalle counties. Last week, LaSalle County Board memberschanged the building permit ordinance for public utility towers to levy a fee of $25 per foot for new towers taller than 50 feet.
The Clean Line towers would be an estimated 120 to 200 feet tall, translating to county fees of $3,000 to $5,000 for each tower in LaSalle County.
In other business Tuesday, the Rock Island County Board approved drawing up a request for proposals for a space needs assessment at the county courthouse.
An April 9 referendum will ask voters to expand the powers of the public building commission, allowing it to issue bonds to build a new courthouse. The existing courthouse in downtown Rock Island is dilapidated, and judges who work in the building want it to be replaced.
Rock Island County Board Chairman Phil Banaszek said he would push to have the needs assessment completed before the referendum, if possible.The study will determine the size needs for a new courthouse, which could help county officials select a site and determine the cost of the project.
Mr. Banaszek said he'd like the public to approve the referendum question. If that does not happen, he said, the county could be forced at a later date to build a new courthouse as a result of legal action.