Group asks ICC to reconsider Ameren line case

SPRINGFIELD — A coalition of property owners in Piatt, Douglas and Moultrie counties has asked the Illinois Commerce Commission to rehear a portion of the case involving a proposed Ameren Transmission high-voltage power line.

The petition filed by Springfield attorney R. Kurt Wilke asks the commission to reconsider its ruling on the portion of the proposed power line between Mount Zion and Kansas.

The commerce commission has until Oct. 8 to respond to the petition. If granted, a rehearing could take up to 150 days.

On Aug. 20, the commission approved much of the proposed line, which would run from Quincy to Terre Haute, Ind.

As proposed, the route would connect substations near Mount Zion and Kansas by running through Piatt and Douglas counties, rather than taking a more direct route through Moultrie County.

In the petition filed Sept. 18, property owners claimed a rehearing is needed to give Piatt and Douglas landowners "minimum due process" and to reweigh evidence in the case.

They claim evidence favors Ameren Transmission's original route through Moultrie County, rather than the later-adopted route through Piatt and Douglas counties.

The latter route was proposed by the Moultrie County Property Owners group and later endorsed by the transmission company.

The petitioners maintain the commission didn't provide notice of the case to some landowners along the Piatt-Douglas route, including the Channon Family Trust, which owns 340 acres in Douglas County.

That family found out its land was affected only when it received a letter from Ameren requesting to survey the property, the petition said. When the family sought to intervene, the hearing had already concluded.

The petition contends that "not only were Piatt and Douglas landowners not given adequate notice, they were actively misled."

Piatt and Douglas counties weren't listed among the 18 counties in the power line case, the petition said.

"On no other segment except for Mount Zion-to-Kansas would a resident have gone to an Ameren meeting, or looked at Ameren's website, or checked out the ICC website and have been informed that their county was not involved in this process," the petition stated.

The petition also claims the Piatt-Douglas route will interfere with a Native American archaeological site near Atwood, nearby Amish farmland and forest areas in the Lake Fork River floodplain.

The landowners contend the commission rejected the advice of staff to exclude the Mount Zion-to-Kansas segment from any approved route until a location for the Mount Zion substation could be determined.

The property owners said the route through Piatt and Douglas counties takes an "unnecessary detour" to the north. It runs 4 miles north of the Mount Zion substation location, even though Kansas is located east-southeast of Mount Zion.

Complicating the situation: the possibility that the site of the Mount Zion substation may be moved 2.5 miles to the south.

If that were to happen, the route through Piatt and Douglas counties would become longer and more expensive, while the original Ameren route would likely become shorter and less expensive.

Consequently, the petitioners ask the commission to determine the "least-cost" route only after a location is chosen for the Mount Zion substation.

Several other petitions for rehearing have been filed with the commerce commission in the past week, asking that other segments of the line be reconsidered.

Petitioners include groups from Edgar County, from Adams County and from Morgan, Sangamon and Scott counties.

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