How long have we been dealing with the Rock Island Clean Line? 6 years? The original docket at the Illinois Commerce Commission was dated October 2010. 7 years of the company saying this is not about eminent domain has gotten old.
Don’t you love the spin, the propaganda, and sometimes the gnashing of teeth, of corporate public relations? There is a lot of pouting and sour grapes at Clean Line Energy this week as the Illinois Supreme Court denied their appeal and grant the Rock Island Clean Line public utility status. This negativity is not good for a corporation. Suck it up boys and girls at Clean Line. Here’s some suggestions for positive talking points and turn these lemons into lemonade.
I wonder if the Clean Line Energy executives remember being asked when testifying at the ICC “Why are you applying for this Certificate Need and Public Necessity”. No one had an answer beyond “Our attorney says so”. The 800 pound gorilla in the room was eminent domain. The CNPN was needed to ask the ICC and courts for eminent domain approval. Each time the subject of eminent domain was brought up, the response was “Clean Line is not applying for eminent domain at this time” or “we might need eminent domain at all”.
The Illinois Supreme Court has finally spoken. The court has given its blessing to Clean Line Energy to build its powerline. ICC approval and public utility status is not necessary. This project can be built without a Certificate of Need and Public Necessity. The Court has given its blessing to go buy easements and build this proposed Merchant Transmission Line.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has also authorized Clean Line to negotiate rates with the “risks and rewards” of being a Merchant Transmission Line. The Illinois Supreme Court has stated RICL as a Merchant Transmission Line is not bound to the restrictions of being a public utility. RICL has been given freedom to pursue the risks and rewards of their dream to build a powerline from Northwestern Iowa to Channahon, Illinois where it can plug into the grid and wheel wind energy to the east coast market.
This should be good news for Clean Line Energy Partners (Ziff Brothers, National Grid, John Wilder, Michael Skelly, Jimmy Glotfelty, and others).
So what’s the problem?
It will be a cold day in Houston before Clean Line Energy Partners ever gains eminent domain authority in Illinois.
The Illinois Supreme Court has essentially told Clean Line “If you really don’t need eminent domain authority like you claim, then you don’t need public utility status either. Go build your powerline and good luck with that.”
Sitting through the oral arguments at Springfield, I wondered how many times the state’s Supreme Court hears cases where an outside company with no connection to Illinois attempts to distort Illinois laws for their benefit. The court heard two cases that day and both cases were about companies attempting to swindle Illinois laws. In the other case, a warehouse in Grand Rapids, Michigan had a roof collapse. The tenant lost a bunch of frozen fish. The fish company was attempting to sue the Indiana warehouse company in Cook County because the warehouse company also had a warehouse in Joliet. Like RICL, that was another case where a company with no affiliation or ties to Illinois was attempting to distort Illinois laws for their financial benefit.
Thank you Illinois Supreme Court for placing the security of Illinois residents over that of a company looking for a quick buck through eminent domain.
Go build your powerline as a private Merchant Transmission Line with all the risks and rewards of a private business Clean Line, just don’t use the Illinois Public Utility Act to place the risk on Illinois residents. I double dog dare you!