AmerenIP announces plans for 138,000-volt power line

AmerenIP announces plans for 138,000-volt power line

URBANA – The public will help determine where a 138,000-volt power line proposed by AmerenIP will go.

That would supply enough power for a city of 20,000 to 40,000 homes, according to the Illinois Commerce Commission.

Ameren intends to build a 138,000-volt power line to serve the southwest campus of the University of Illinois and southwest Champaign, Ameren spokesman Leigh Morris told reporters at a news conference Tuesday in Urbana. This fall, the company will meet with "stakeholders" and hold open houses to discuss plans.

Morris said the company intends to build the transmission line from Bondville to the southwest campus.

A "ballpark" cost estimate for the project would be about $14 million, Morris said. He said it would be "speculative" to say whether that would result in the utility asking for permission for any additional rate increases from the Illinois Commerce Commission.

"Everything we do is cost recovery," Morris said.

The proposed line would complete a 138,000-volt loop around the Champaign area and expand Ameren's distribution system for future growth and alternate routes of service when outages occur, according to Morris.

Exactly where that line will go will be determined over the next few months in a series of meetings and ultimately a proposal to the commerce commission. Ameren officials will be meeting with local officials and the public to discuss the best route.

Doni Murphy, a consultant for Ameren with the Natural Resources Group, said the process to determine the route will involve the public as well as "stakeholders," such as interest groups, elected officials and public representatives.

Meetings will be held in August or September for those groups, she said.

From there, three possible routes will be determined, based on "opportunities," such as easements, and "sensitivities," such as existing obstacles like Willard Airport, or environmental issues, such as a water well or site of a protected species.

"It's not as easy as drawing a line from A to B," Murphy said. "We cannot get from point A to point B without affecting somebody."

By January, the company expects to submit a proposed route to the commerce commission, and to implement the transmission line by the first quarter of 2014.

Morris said the pending electric rate request submitted by AmerenIP on June 5 will not be affected by the transmission line proposal.

The proposed line will go from near the intersection of Illinois 10 and South Rising Road to near the southwest corner of the UI campus.

The line will also connect to the Windsor Road substation, located along South Mattis Avenue between Curtis and Windsor roads.

The proposed line may connect to an existing segment of transmission line between the Windsor Road substation and U.S. 45.

Marty Hipple, supervisor for Ameren distribution planning, said the proposed transmission line will supply additional power for the needs that are anticipated in the near future.

"If the growth accelerates, we'll be pushing this project as much as we can," Hipple said. "We're trying to get this load in place sooner, rather than later, to serve the current, as well as future needs."

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