Block RICL: Private property rights again under attack in energy bill


MENDOTA - Block RICL leaders are sounding the alarm over language in Illinois’ controversial energy bill currently being negotiated in Springfield. Block RICL signs are appearing again and supporters are being called on to make their voices heard with Illinois lawmakers.

Language in the proposed Illinois Senate Bill 2896 and House Bill 4074 would change the definition of a “public utility” and would allow speculative private transmission projects like Rock Island Clean Line to have the power of eminent domain. This would reverse the 2017 Illinois Supreme Court victory of the Illinois Landowners Alliance and Block RICL.

Illinois Landowners Alliance president Mary Mauch explained their concern. “Eminent domain in the hands of private speculation wind and solar companies is a dangerous assault on our private rights,” she said. “While RICL is very much not active, there are also rumblings in Iowa that big wind is also lobbying for eminent domain. We worked hard for our 2017 win at the Illinois Supreme Court. We need to come together immediately to protect it by shutting down this new assault on our private property rights.”

Joe Gleespan, a Christian County landowner whose farm is in the path of RICL’s sister project Grain Belt Express, said there are other options for wind and solar companies. “Landowners will bear the brunt of this legislation by losing their private property rights,” he said. “Grain Belt could use an easier path through Missouri and Illinois by burying their project along US 36.”

The Grain Belt Express project was purchased by industrial wind company Invenergy when Clean Line Energy Partners shut down, however its permit from the Illinois Commerce Commission was vacated by an Illinois Appeals Court in 2018. Invenergy would need a new permit from the ICC before it could use eminent domain to site the project across Illinois. The change to the definition of public utility would enable a new permit application for the project.

Mendota resident Susan Sack said this is an important issue for landowners. “We must protect our communities and land from high voltage speculative transmission and industrial wind and solar plants wielding the power of eminent domain,” she emphasized. “Contact your state legislators today!”

Block RICL was formed in 2012 to oppose the now defeated Rock Island Clean Line, a speculative 500-mile high-voltage direct current transmission line designed to ship wind energy from Iowa through Illinois to the East Coast electric grid. Block RICL can be reached at [email protected] and (815) 315-8506.

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