High voltage transmission line in the works - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

High voltage transmission line in the works


Representatives with Clean Line Energy Partners and Kiewit Corporation met with Cedar Rapids business leaders to discuss a project they want to build by 2017.

The two companies have been hosting the open houses across the state to explain why they want to build a 500-mile overhead transmission line and what it would mean for Iowa.

The Rock Island Clean Line would deliver wind power from northwest Iowa to the Chicago area and states east of there.

"There's a very strong demand for renewable energy in state laws in Illinois and in states further to the east," said Hans Detweiler, Director of Development for Rock Island Clean Line.  "The wind resource in Iowa is one of the most cost effective ways to meet that demand."

The project would generate 3500MW of wind energy-enough to power 1.4 million homes.

Building the line would support new wind farms, creating more business for eastern Iowa's wind turbine manufacturers.

It would also stimulate the state's economy with 5,000, 500 operations jobs, and contracts with local businesses.

"We're going to have to buy concrete, steel, there's hotels that are going to benefit," said Morris Stover, Manager of Power Delivery for Kewitt Power.

The new line is needed because where wind energy is highest is also where transmission lines are weakest.

"We have a lot of wind here obviously and if they can take advantage of it in a good, clean way then why not," said Beth Carlson of Cedar Rapids.

Iowa has lost wind energy jobs in recent weeks due to uncertainty of a federal production tax credit scheduled to end this year.

The creators of this project don't see it as a threat to the transmission line.

"The short-term problem of the production tax credit is a big problem for the wind industry but it's not necessarily a problem for a project like our's that's looking at 2017 not 2013," said Detweiler.

Project leaders say the line would lead to $1.7 billion in project investments and $7 billion worth of new wind farms.

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