Illinois Rivers Transmission Line

A map of the approved route from Ameren. Find a more detailed view by county here.

Stated Purpose:

Ameren Transmission Company of Illinois wants to build a 330-mile, 345,000-volt transmission line across central Illinois. The project is comprised of 4 different Multi-Value Project lines, and would stretch from West Adair, Missouri to Sugar Creek, Indiana.

The project is designed to facilitate the delivery of renewable energy, strengthen the transmission system, provide additional transmission capacity, enhance market efficiency, and improve reliability. The line will also provide economic and reliability benefits, along with local voltage support.

Line Capacity:

345 kV

Route Description:

After considering input from a series of public meetings, Ameren has chosen primary and alternate routes. The routes are designed to minimize impact and encourage economic development, while avoiding farmland and residential areas as much as possible. Both routes begin in Palmyra, MO and end in Sugar Creek, IN. There it will tie into the Sugar Creek Substation owned by Duke Energy and Northern Indiana Public Service Co. The primary route will cut through sections of Christian, Macon, Shelby, Moultrie, and Coles counties in Central Illinois. Affected communities include Quincy, Pawnee, and Mt. Zion.

In the early stages of this process Ameren has placed particular focus on finding a route which maximizes existing utility right-of-way, utilizes existing roadways, field lines, section lines, and property boundaries. The proposed routes also avoid important community institutions such as cemeteries, churches, schools, hospitals, parks, and ecologically sensitive lands. The proposed route will be submitted to the Illinois Commerce Commission in November of 2012. The ICC will make a final decision in July, complying with a statutory limit of a 225 day decision period.

The Illinois Rivers project is composed of five multi-value projects (MVPs):

West Adair-Palmyra Tap (Missouri)

Palmyra-Quincy-Meredosia-Ipava-Pawnee (41 miles, Missouri, Illinois)

New Pawnee/Pana (Illinois)

Pana-Mt. Zion-Kansas-Sugar Creek (Illinois)

Sydney-Rising (28 miles, Illinois)

Once in Illinois, Duke Energy will connect this line, bringing much of the power to demand centers along the east coast.

Development Timeline:

The project is expected to be completed by 2016. During the current planning phase, developers are interacting with stakeholders to produce the most effective line with minimal impact to landowners.

Ameren began hosting open house sessions in May of 2012, the first in a series of three separate sessions. As a result of these meetings Ameren will develop a number of alternative routes. A second session will take place throughout July 2012, and a third in September of 2012, a total of 24 in all.

This final round of open houses has allowed residents to develop a much better understanding of the route plan. While experts are on hand to answer any question, Ameren has also provided a computer which allows landowners and other residents to enter their address and view a map that shows exactly how close the proposed route will come to their property.

A judge for the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) recommended an alternative route in early 2014, diverging in places from the route Ameren submitted for approval. The ICC resolved changes to the project route and approved the line in February 2014.

Construction is expected to begin in 2015. While the first segment will be in service by 2016, the project as a whole will likely not be completed until 2019. In addition to line construction, this project will require nine new or expanded substations throughout Illinois and one in Missouri.

Regulatory Process:

Ameren is still in the early process of regulatory approval. As legally mandated, they are holding a minimum of three open houses in each of the seven Illinois counties along the preliminary route to engage the public about possible routes, present their views to Ameren, provide an opportunity for citizens to learn more about the project and it's potential impacts to the area, and to provide insight into projected project costs.

Many of the open house sessions are being held in order to explore various routing options. In November 2012 Ameren submitted both primary and alternate routes for consideration. Pursuant to an Illinois law which allows for the expedited approval of infrastructure projects, the Illinois Commerce Commission will then have 225 days to either approve the primary route, an alternative, modify the proposed routes, or recommend one on their own. During this process the ICC will hear arguments for and against the route from Illinois residents.

In mid-August of 2013, Ameren received approval from the Illinois Commerce Commission for 7 of 9 proposed segments of the line, along with 3 out of 9 substations. Ameren will likely request that the ICC rehear their proposal for the remaining segments and substations, while also starting the right-of-way acquisition process and preparing for construction. One issue was a possible conflict between a FutureGen coal project which is set to be built in the same area as one of the original segments of the Illinois Rivers line, possibly creating conflicts for both Ameren and FutureGen during construction.

Interested parties may become interveners in the case, allowing them to present evidence in support of or in opposition to the project or routing in the context of the evidentiary proceedings. Once the final route is chosen, affected landowners will be contacted in writing before meetings are set up with Ameren officials to negotiate an easement.

Administrative law judges have recommended that the Illinois Commerce Commission select a different route, that will run slightly south of current route. They note their suggestion affects fewer property owners, and is the least-cost option. They say that it will also make better use of existing corridors and easements, making it the better option. In February 2014, the Illinois Commerce Commission approved some changes to the route, but reaffirmed their approval for the majority of the route that was approved in August 2013.

Developer:

Ameren

Community Feedback:

This project has has moved quickly, and communities across Illinois have been invited to attend a last round of open houses to learn more. Ameren planned to host a series of at least three public meetings in each affected county. These open house sessions offer an important opportunity for community members to meet with Ameren experts, ask needed questions and provide welcome feedback. It's especially important that the 1,500 landowners who will be impacted along the 330 mile line attend, ask questions, and provide input.

Early reactions have been more curious than oppositional. Despite the fact that agriculturalists will be given full use of any land used in the project, many farmers have expressed concerns regarding the amount of land the proposed project will require, asking whether prime farmland will be impacted. Others have expressed desire for a route which preserves the current landscape. Many individuals are eager for the influx of economic activity including county officials along the proposed route: each county which hosts the line will be paid $20,000 per mile.

Despite the high price tag of transmission development, Illinois customers are expected to foot only 9% of the total costs. This equates to approximately 30 to 50 cents per month for the average home owner.

As is the case with each transmission project, uniquely local concerns arise. In this case, nearby residents are concerned about the fate of a popular local radio station. If this project is routed as planned, lines may interfere with the stations transmitter, forcing it to relocate. Others involve community development. For example, the Quincy City Council has passed a resolution opposing the primary route option as it may interfere with industrial development. Unique community concerns such as this have led to the formation of Clark County's Stop the Power Lines Coalition.

Other concerns relate to future development potential. Unless this project follows an already existing corridor, land adjacent to nearby municipalities that may be prime for development would instead be included as part of an easement. On this issue in particular the community feels that Ameren has done a poor job in communicating with concerned residents.

One of the most important steps a transmission developer can take is ensuring that they work closely with the local community, and to build each project in a way that meets community needs. Here, Ameren found that the community strongly prefers a project which follows section boundaries and existing roads. Ameren also has not yet petitioned to use eminent domain to acquire right-of-way easements, instead trying to get all easements through agreements with landowners.

The Illinois Commerce Commission held public hearings on the project from May 13 to May 17 2013, and approval was given to most of the line on August 20, 2013. Approval was withheld from a 30 mile portion of the line that would run from Pawnee to Pana, as regulators said they required more information for that section before approval could be given.

In August 2013, there was some disagreement among landowners over alternative routes that would largely skip one county in favor of heavily impacting two others--Piatt and Douglas counties. Local landowners in either county have begun organizing opposition to the change in route. Two members of the Illinois Commerce Commission signaled that there could possibly be a rehearing on the project to take another look at all available routes. Two local legislators came out against the project, claiming that the rate of return for the developer was too high.

A local conservation district has also voiced concerns over the line passing through the Willow Branch area south of Macon. They noted that the original plans did not have the line passing through the area, but that a newer route would. They plan to contact Ameren to explore options for the placement of the line.

Some property owners in Illinois have denied access to Ameren. They claim that since the line is currently facing litigation, the company does not have a right to access their property to survey for the project. A judge ruled that Ameren did have the right to survey, but other legal challenges to the project are pending.

One group--the Morgan, Sangamon and Scott Counties Land Preservation Group--is petitioning the Illinois Commerce Commission for a rehearing on the projects route, arguing that the selected route is too costly, long, and unnecessarily cuts through farmland. The ICC has granted the request for a rehearing, but no date has been set at this time. The commission has asked for a route between Pawnee and Mt. Zion that would run through Central Illinois to be identified. In May, a group of landowners sought an appeal concerning the preferred route. As part of their case they claim that the route would be costlier, longer, and cut through the land of agricultural operations.

Conflicts between the ICC approved route and a piece of FAA equipment may require that Ameren use an alternate route for a portion of the project.

Clean Energy Potential:

Ameren states that the line is needed to assure system reliability, to meet future demand and to help carry renewable energy, primarily from wind farms, across the Midwest power grid. The project is expected to carry power generated in the Dakotas, Iowa, Minnesota and Missouri to Illinois and points further east. 25% of the electricity Ameren Illinois delivers must come from renewable sources by 2025.

News Archive:

Major electric project nears completion April 11, 2017

Transmission line construction underway in Coles County March 27, 2017

Work continues on another big energy-supply line December 3, 2016

Eminent domain cases filed for Ameren project December 24, 2015

Ameren upgrading to meet modern electricity needs October 23, 2015

Ameren, others prepare grid for wind energy March 8, 2015

Illinois Rivers project come to the area January 24, 2015

Ameren Transmission Company's transmission line project runs into a snag January 16, 2015

Proposed routes for Illinois Rivers Transmission Line segment to be presented at open house sessions January 6, 2014

Missouri Property Owners Seek to Intervene in Ameren Lawsuit Against the Public Service Commission Concerning Eminent Domain and the Mark Twain Transmission Project October 8, 2014

Ameren proposing new transmission lines near Mount Zion September 16, 2014

Ameren CEO updates Illinois Rivers, Spoon River projects August 11, 2014

Conservation district concerned about Ameren transmission line route July 18, 2014

Court: Ameren can survey July 7, 2014

Ameren's proposed project moves forward after ICC decision July 3, 2014

Ameren Uses Eminent Domain To Access Properties Around Springfield June 30, 2014

Ameren receives eminent domain authority to install major power line June 27, 2014

Transmission project opponents take appeals to court May 19, 2014

Legal challenge to Ameren power line in appellate court May 18, 2014

Continuance granted for Ogle March 28, 2014

Landowners fight power line March 1, 2014

Illinois Regulators OK Massive Transmission Line February 27, 2014

ATXI secures final approval for Illinois Rivers transmission project February 24, 2014

A Closer Look at the New Ameren Transmission Line February 22, 2014

Regulators OK final routes for electric transmission line February 21, 2014

Green Light for Massive Ameren Project February 21, 2014

North American Windpower: Illinois Rivers Transmission Project Receives Final ICC Nod February 21, 2014

ICC approves Coles-Moultrie route for power line February 21, 2014

Illinois Rivers Transmission Project Receives Final Approval from Illinois Commerce Commission February 20, 2014

Tug of war continues over power line route January 24, 2014

Ameren line may take different route January 21, 2014

ICC judges propose change  to Ameren transmission line route January 20, 2014

Tom Ogle to Ameren: Stay off my property December 30, 2013

Group wins battle in Ameren line fight October 5, 2013

New Twist in Proposed Ameren Illinois Rivers Transmission Line October 3, 2013

Local residents granted rehearing on Ameren transmission line October 2, 2013

Group asks ICC to reconsider Ameren line case September 24, 2013

Opposition mounting to path for Ameren Transmission's high-voltage line September 23, 2013

Letter: Objects to Ameren transmission line route September 15, 2013

Landowners appeal electricity line September 14, 2013

Landowners urged not to accept first Ameren offer September 9, 2013

Power line route still up in the air September 5, 2013

Rights-of-way needed for power transmission line September 4, 2013

Ameren has Illinois residents looking for answers September 4, 2013

Ameren power line works around FutureGen clean coal project August 23, 2013

Ameren gets OK for transmission line in Illinois August 23, 2013

Regulators OK Ameren transmission line August 22, 2013

ICC Approves Ameren Transmission Project August 22, 2013

State commission OKS transmission line August 22, 2013

Ameren's transmission project approved by Illinois Commerce Commission August 22, 2013

Illinois Energy Regulators Approve Large Power Transmission Line August 21, 2013

Illinois transmission bid has lift-off August 21, 2013

Illinois regulators OK major transmission line August 21, 2013

Ameren (Mostly) Approved for $1.1 Billion Transmission Line August 21, 2013

Commerce Commission approves high-voltage route August 21, 2013

Ameren ready to start on massive power line project August 21, 2013

Illinois regulators OK Ameren transmission line August 21, 2013

Illinois regulators OK major transmission line August 21, 2013

Transmission project approved by Illinois Commerce Commission August 21, 2013

Regulators OK major central Illinois transmission line August 20, 2013

ICC members signal rehearing possible on Ameren line route August 14, 2013

More than 200 at meeting opposing Ameren transmission line August 1, 2013

Power-line critics urge public to be at meeting August 1, 2013

Area legislators upset by federal agency's actions August 1, 2013

Pair of lawmakers critical of handling of Ameren transmission line project July 31, 2013

Douglas, Piatt residents don't want Ameren line reroute July 20, 2013

Ameren Plans to spend $2.2 billion on transmission line projects May 2, 2013

Opposition growing against proposed Ameren transmission line January 18, 2013

Quincy City Council rejects proposed Ameren transmission line January 8, 2013

City would like to see Ameren use alternate path for transmission line January 7, 2013

Savoy joins effort to seek information on Ameren project December 20, 2012

Transmission lines causing concerns December 6, 2012

Ameren plans to "charge" through Brown County October 24, 2012

Residents upset over energy project October 9, 2012

Ameren selects route for new transmission lines October 3, 2012

Ameren lays out route 'Illinois Rivers' power transmission line October 3, 2012

Residents take in final round of Ameren open house September 28, 2012

Ameren project open house phase wraps up September 27, 2012

Final hearings set on power transmission line September 18, 2012

Plans outlined for high-voltage line July 31, 2012

Dialogue key in how new lines are located July 29, 2012

Ameren narrowing path for proposed new transmission line through Illinois July 26, 2012

Public hears plan for Ameren transmission line July 23, 2012

Proposed routes for Ameren Transmission line discussed July 18, 2012

Your chance to learn about Illinois Rivers Transmission line July 17, 2012

Ameren Transmission Company plans public open house in Kansas July 17, 2012

Ameren plans open houses for transmission-line plans in Chatham, Farmersville July 17, 2012

Local meeting set on statewide power line July 13, 2012

Ameren to hold open house on transmission line July 10, 2012

Ameren wants comment on high-voltage line June 21, 2012

Illinois Rivers Project is about electricity June 4, 2012

Ameren airs plans for new power transmission line during stop in Mount Zion May 26, 2012

Ameren developing plans for transmission line through tri-states May 17, 2012

Ameren outlines plans for 330-mile transmission line May 15, 2012

Electrical transmission project hearings set to begin May 3, 2012

Ameren proposing new transmission line through the area May 3, 2012

New high voltage line would electrify three states May 1, 2012

Meeting next month to discuss Ameren transmission line April 26, 2012

Your Thoughts:

We all know that clean energy transmission is vitally important to our energy future. It brings economic opportunity to rural areas, enables wind development and improves the reliability of your grid. But to build it properly - to create projects that work best for you and your community - requires your knowledge and participation. That's why we've created this database.

Is there a way we can improve? Any changes that would make this a more effective tool? Alternatively, do you have more questions about this line? Would you like to receive email updates? Send an email to johnathanh@cfra.org and let us know!

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