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Landowners Win Fight for Rehearing on Ameren Three Rivers Project

Story originally published here.

The Illinois Commerce Commission has allowed a group of local landowners to make their case for why a major electrical transmission project should move off of their property and follow a new route.

The group would like to see the 345,000-volt transmission line run parallel to a 138,000-volt line that has been in place for more than 40 years. The existing line also travels in a more or less direct path from Meredosia to Pawnee.

A month ago, the Morgan, Sangamon and Scott Counties Land Preservation Group filed for a rehearing, targeting a proposed route from Meredosia to Pawnee. The path for this section of the Ameren Transmission Illinois Rivers Project had already been approved by the Illinois Commerce Commission.

On Friday, land preservation group member Kelly Dodsworth said the ICC granted a request for a rehearing.

The group is seeking to get the ICC-approved route changed, arguing that the chosen route is longer, about $36.8 million costlier and cuts through virgin agricultural land.

They say having it follow existing electrical lines would be cheaper for energy customers and have less impact on landowners.

“One of the tenets of ICC is to accept the least expensive route, and that was a point a commissioner brought up,” Dodsworth said. “That they needed to take a look at it again.”

The group was given until Monday to come up with a list of names, phone numbers and addresses of everyone who will be affected along the existing line.

“Even with the rushed information request we’ve decided we have the resources to handle it, so we’ll have it to them Monday. That’s the good news,” Dodsworth said.

A date for the rehearing has not yet been set, but some time is being allowed for the land preservation group and for property owners along the existing line to make cases for both sides.

“What we’re also going to try to do is visually inspect the ICC-designated line — which is the one we don’t want that runs though our property — and the existing line,” Dodsworth said. “Provide more detailed numbers about homes, cemeteries, bodies of water and things like that. … The way I understand it is that no one’s built along that route for 40 years, or tried to develop around there, because there’s an existing line.”

The Ameren Transmission Illinois River Project is a roughly $1 billion project, constructing a 330-mile line from a new substation in Palmyra, Mo., eastward through the middle of Illinois and across the Indiana border to Sugar Creek.

The utility maintains the transmission line is needed to upgrade services and safety and prevent outages, as well as for improved efficiency of the electric power grid. Construction is expected to start in 2014.

The group said any member of the public can contact the ICC through its consumer hotline or submit a written testimony through its website to express concerns.

If you think you may be affected by the Ameren Three Rivers Project and/or are interested in a free consultation, contact our eminent domain landowner attorneys at 1-888-318-3761 or visit us on the web at www.landownerattorneys.com.

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