Area legislators upset by federal agency's actions

Two area lawmakers are again blasting a federal agency for allowing Ameren a 12.38 percent return on equity for its high-voltage transmission line project.

State Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, and state Rep. Adam Brown, R-Champaign, criticized the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for guaranteeing that much return on equity.

"As a result of FERC's outrageous guaranteed ROE for companies like Ameren, this is but one of many lines proposed to come through our area — all driven by guaranteed profits for the power companies paid by ratepayers," the legislators said in a joint release Wednesday.

"The private sector doesn't get a sweetheart deal like this. Why should Ameren or any of the other companies proposing these lines?" Rose said in the release.

Rose and Brown said they are filing resolutions calling on the Illinois congressional delegation to investigate FERC's move.

"I am concerned that even if we stop Ameren, given FERC's guaranteed profits for power companies, then some other group will come along in the future years proposing another absurd, unneeded transmission project," Rose said.

Rose said ICC staff recommended that the commission reject the Mount Zion-to-Kansas, Ill., portion of the Illinois Rivers Transmission Project, given that a location had not been determined for the proposed Mount Zion substation.

In issuing a proposed order for the commission, an ICC administrative-law judge, Stephen Yoder, subsequently recommended approval of the Douglas-Piatt route for that part — but only from the Macon-Piatt county line east to Kansas.

Yoder did not recommend approval of the portion of the route in Macon County, saying that could be determined after the location of the Mount Zion substation is decided.

Rose said the proposed order "flew squarely against the staff analysis and professional engineering plans" prepared by the ICC staff.

"It is flat-out wrong to support a project that the ICC's own unbiased staff concludes should be denied," Rose said.

ICC spokeswoman Beth Bosch said administrative-law judges hear evidence from many parties, including staff, and don't always side with staff.

The full commission is expected to vote on the proposed order by Aug. 20.

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