Rock Island Clean Line promotes $2-billion power proposal

There’s positive and negative reaction over a $2-billion proposal to harness wind energy and deliver it to 14 states.

Privately-owned Rock Island Clean Line expects to create more than 5,000 construction jobs and hundreds more to operate a 500-mile line that would deliver the clean energy.

“More and more, we’re going to want to get off the dependency of fossil fuels and turn to more renewable energy,” said Doug Jones, a Davenport resident who represents Rock Island Clean Line.

That’s why hundreds packed Thursday’s public meeting in Davenport. They want to learn more about the company and plans for the overhead line.

“This is an opportunity to export (energy) just like we export corn and beans to areas where there’s demand for it,” Jones said.

But the project doesn’t sit well with everybody in its path. There are concerns about the appearance and impact on farming.

Cordova-area farmer Ed Simpson came to the meeting sharing those concerns. He worries about the long-term impact on his land.

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“We don’t need to be all cluttered up with this infrastructure that’s not needed,” he said.

Land owners and local governments could receive thousands of dollars to allow the towers. The project also promises to generate billions of additional dollars.

But that potential doesn’t convince Susan Sack, Mendota.

“If we allow a private company to get eminent domain for their private gain, we’ve opened a Pandora’s box,” she said.

The project has many hurdles to clear before it becomes a reality. If approved, Rock Island Clean Line hopes to begin construction in 2015 and deliver energy in 2017.

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