Commerce Commission approves high-voltage transmission line route across state

Posted: Aug. 21, 2013 9:24 am Updated: Sep. 11, 2013 9:34 am

By DOUG WILSONHerald-Whig Senior Writer

Ameren Transmission Co. of Illinois has received approval to build a 345,000-volt transmission line between Palmyra, Mo., and the Indiana border near Terre Haute.

The Illinois Commerce Commission voted Tuesday to allow the 375-mile project that will cost between $890 million and $1.4 billion. The line should be built by 2019, with a portion completed in 2016.

The high voltage lines' route was shifted to the south in the South Quincy Development District after opposition by the Adams County Board, the Quincy City Council and several property owners who said a previous route would have made parts of their parcels unusable.

"They moved the route. It's not as far south as would have liked, but we can live with it," said Pete Pohlman, an energy consultant with the Great River Economic Development Foundationn.

The transmission lines will cross the Mississippi River just north of the alignment with Turtle Lake Road. It angles northeast to South Fifth Street, then goes straight east to South Sixth Street, where it turns south to Turtle Lake Road. An electric substation will be built along Ghost Hollow Road. It is one of nine slated for construction or expansion along the route.

Ameren Transmission Co., which is a separate company from Ameren Illinois, is building the transmission system as a conduit for alternative energy sources such as wind and hydropower. Company spokesmen said the potential for alternative energy is greater in Western states, but the electricity is needed in higher population states to the east.

Peggy Ladd, manager for transmission business development, said during an open house in Quincy that the high-voltage system will "lower congestion" and make generation more cost effective.

The transmission system also will give Quincy the ability to provide 100 megawatts of power for manufacturing and other development.

Costs of constructing the transmission line will be shared by all customers living within the Midcontinent Independent System Operator region, which is a multi-state transmission area. The average residential electric customer will pay an additional 30 to 50 cents per month.

Property owners who negotiate easements for the line will receive one-time payments. Counties through which the transmission line passes will receive $20,000 a mile once the system is in operation.

Transmission lines will be mounted on metal poles between 80 and 140 feet tall. Poles will be placed between 700 and 1,000 feet apart on concrete bases measuring about 8 feet in diameter. Farmers will be able to plant right up to the bases and livestock may graze there, as well.

Ameren Transmission filed its petition with the commission in November after a series of public hearings along the route.

In addition to the main transmission route from Quincy to Sugar Creek, Ind., another section will fork off at Meredosia and a separate line will wrap around the southwest side of Champaign County.

Ameren Transmission did not seek eminent domain authority as part of this case and would have to return to the ICC if that authority is needed.

-- dwilson@whig.com/221-3372