3/2/2013 3:38:00 PM Lawmakers try to slow Ameren project
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Lawmakers in Illinois want to slow the review process for a major electricity line project by utility company Ameren to allow more time for state officials and the public to scrutinize the plans and determine if they are really necessary.
Ameren Transmission Co. is seeking regulatory approval for a 380-mile electric transmission line from Missouri to Indiana that would stretch across 19 Illinois counties. The company says the Illinois Rivers Project is meant to improve reliability and market efficiency and to meet increasing electricity demands. It warns the legislation would block power projects.
Republican state Sen. Chapin Rose of Mahomet has introduced legislation that would slow the regulatory process for those plans by placing new limits on the types of projects that can qualify for an expedited review by the Illinois Commerce Commission. The bill would also prevent construction of transmission lines within 1.5 miles of some public and private lands.
Rose accused the company of seeking to fast-track the project to avoid scrutiny.
“They want it over and done with as quickly as possible before anyone has time to catch their breath and ask the tough questions,” Rose said.
Rose says the project’s necessity is at question, and that he has heard from constituents concerned about the new power lines.
State Rep. Adam Brown, a Republican from Champaign, has introduced similar legislation in the House and says he has also heard concerns raised by constituents.
Ameren spokesman Leigh Morris said the company opposes the measure, calling it is too restrictive.
“It would basically stop transmission projects in the state of Illinois,” Morris said.
Rose’s bill would allow only power lines less than five miles long — far shorter than Ameren’s plans call for — to qualify for expedited review, which has a faster decision deadline of six to eight months.