Proponents drop push to give downstate utilities dibs on new transmission lines

Proponents drop push to give downstate utilities dibs on new transmission lines

By ANDREW ADAMS 
Capitol News Illinois
aadams@capitolnewsillinois.com

With billions of dollars of construction projects on the line, Ameren Illinois and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers have been vying to secure first rights on new electricity transmission line construction in downstate Illinois. 

But after Gov. JB Pritzker issued an amendatory veto to a bill that would have granted downstate utilities the right of first refusal for such projects, those advocates are abandoning their efforts – for now. 

At a news conference Wednesday, Rep. Larry Walsh Jr., D-Elwood – the chair of the House Public Utilities Committee and sponsor of the vetoed bill – conceded the fight over House Bill 3445. 

“We’re not going to carry or try to override the veto,” Walsh told reporters. 

Walsh and advocates for the policy faced an uphill battle. The bill passed 41-9 in the Senate and 63-32 in the House. That’s fewer than the 71 votes needed in the House to buck the governor’s veto. 

And in the months since it passed in May, several advocacy groups have come out against the policy, citing potential consumer and environmental implications. These groups include environmental groups like the Sierra Club of Illinois and Illinois Climate Jobs Coalition, as well as the conservative group Americans for Prosperity. 

These concerns were echoed by Pritzker, who wrote in his veto message that the provision would “eliminate competition and raise costs for rate payers.” 

But Walsh said he’s not giving up his push to grant utilities a right of first refusal. Come spring, he said he hopes to persuade ratepayers, lawmakers and the public about what he sees as the benefits of such a policy. 

“We’re looking at doing a full education swing in the spring; introduce a bill that puts [JN1] the state of Illinois as a right of first refusal state – for the whole state with no sunset,” Walsh said. 

This is a major shift away from the original proposal, which Walsh said was intended to study how to effectively implement a right of first refusal policy. That provision was limited only to the grid operator for downstate Illinois – the Midcontinent Independent Systems Operator – and contained a sunset for the end of 2024. 

Representatives of Ameren Illinois, which would have gained a lucrative first crack at constructing new transmission lines, said they were concerned about other companies underbidding in order to be selected for a project, then running over cost and behind schedule. 

“Once these projects are put out for bid and a company wins that, they may, in fact, then gain a monopoly with limited state oversight and the competitive benefits never materialize for consumers,” Matthew Tomc, Ameren’s vice president of regulatory affairs, said Wednesday. 

On Tuesday, Ameren’s president sent an appeal to lawmakers to override the veto. 

Beyond the controversy surrounding the right of first refusal, transmission line construction has become a front line in the fight over climate change in recent years, particularly regarding who will profit from and regulate new construction. 

This is because as new energy sources like solar or wind farms come online, they need new lines to deliver their power to the grid. 

The International Energy Agency, an intergovernmental advisory group based in Paris, released a report this month that found the world will need to build or replace around 50 million miles of grid by 2040 to meet clean energy goals, which is roughly equivalent to replacing the entire current global grid. That report also found grids are becoming a “bottleneck” in the transition to zero-emission electricity systems.

In Illinois and its region, this means that billions of dollars of construction are on the line. MISO estimated its current round of transmission line projects, which is the second of four upcoming, would cost $20 to $30 billion. 

Pritzker, in his veto message, noted that there are $3.6 billion of planned transmission projects in the Ameren service territory. 

 

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed to hundreds of print and broadcast outlets statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, along with major contributions from the Illinois Broadcasters Foundation and Southern Illinois Editorial Association.

Leave a Comment





Local News

A statue from a monument lies on the ground at Resurrection Cemetery in Justice. (Photo by Carol McGowan)

EF1 tornado barrels through Justice and Bridgeview

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Carol McGowan An EF1 tornado, packing winds of 90 miles per hour, swept through Justice and Bridgeview Monday night. Village of Justice Public Works Director Joe Cekus said he knew trouble was on the way. “I was looking in the sky for rotation and I heard a train,” he said. “I quickly…

Two pickup trucks in the 7400 block of Roberts Road in Bridgeview were destroyed by fire. (Photos by Steve Metsch)

Bridgeview family loses two pickup trucks, but house is saved

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Steve Metsch A Bridgeview family in the 7400 block of Roberts Road knows first-hand the damage weather can do. When high winds hit around 9:30 p.m. Monday as a tornado blew through Justice, a cemetery and then into Bridgeview, two power lines were brought down near their bi-level house. One line fell…

Rihanna will open her first Savage X Fenty store in Illinois at Orland Square Mall on Friday. (Photo by Allie Baar)

Rihanna to open Savage X Fenty store in Orland Park on Friday

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Bob Bong Barbados superstar Rihanna will open her first Savage X Fenty store in Illinois on Friday morning in Orland Square Mall in Orland Park. The singer, actor and businesswoman will open the store at the mall’s lower level near the Coach store at 10 a.m. Savage X Fenty will host a…

The Village of Palos Park encouraged residents to unplug their devices for a day at part of Unplug Illinois on July 13. (Supplied photo)

Palos Park encourages residents to unplug

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Kelly White The Village of Palos Park encouraged residents to unplug their devices for a day at part of Unplug Illinois on Saturday, July 13. The day is a state-wide effort, started in 2014, to encourage everyone to “plug into” the amazing recreational opportunities offered by local park and recreation agencies. The…

Portillo's Hot Dogs (PRNewsFoto/Portillo's Hot Dogs)

Comings & Goings: Portillo’s coming to Orland Park

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva After the Orland Park Village Board voted Monday night to allow for a special use program, it set the wheels in motion for a Portillo’s Hot Dogs drive through to be built at 20 Orland Square Drive, the site of the shuttered Denny’s. It will be a 3,305-foot square building…

Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau said that pre-concert problems caused by the weather on July 13 are fixable.
(Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Mayor says Centennial Park West concert snafus ‘easily solvable’

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva The weather gods hit Orland Park’s Pat Benatar concert with their worst shot. A major storm took place July 13 when the event at the refurbished Centennial Park West was scheduled to open the gates. That caused a delay in opening the gates for 40 minutes which resulted in massive…

reporter worth welcome sign

Worth approves $590,000 for street repairs

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Joe Boyle A variety of projects ranging from street repairs and a new pump station for the golf course have been approved for the Village of Worth. A bid was awarded to Lindahl Brothers during the Worth Village Board meeting Tuesday night. Lindahl was the lowest bidder among four entries at $590,384.90 for future…

CRR_NH

Clear-Ridge Reporter and NewsHound July 17, 2024

Spread the love

Spread the love

Alumni Association members Heather Leininger, Emily Szymczak, Candice Mares and Miriam Cruz (at table) lead a crowd of LeaderShop alumni and community members waving posters saying Morals Matter, Demand Change, and Integrity for the Kids. (Photos by S. Kirchman)

LeaderShop alumni, board meeting turns testy at times

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy S. Kirchman The LeaderShop Alumni Association rallied under the pavilion at The LeaderShop office in La Grange for the board’s scheduled 6 p.m. meeting after it was switched from in-person to virtual earlier on Thursday. The Alumni Association consists of volunteers, previous staff members, former members of the board of directors, funders,…

Cleveland Cavaliers guard-forward Max Strus hits a 3-pointer last season over the Boston Celtics' Jaylen Brown. Photo courtesy of Max Strus

Hometown Hoops Hero: Stagg alum Max Strus discusses his rise through the NBA, hitting big shots and his annual youth hoops camp

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Xavier Sanchez Correspondent A lot of changes have taken place for Max Strus during the past year. While the Cleveland Cavaliers guard has played in an NBA Finals and been featured as No. 1 on ESPN SportsCenter’s “Top Plays,” among other noteworthy events, the Stagg alum is the same homegrown kid who…

Neighbors

A statue from a monument lies on the ground at Resurrection Cemetery in Justice. (Photo by Carol McGowan)

EF1 tornado barrels through Justice and Bridgeview

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Carol McGowan An EF1 tornado, packing winds of 90 miles per hour, swept through Justice and Bridgeview Monday night. Village of Justice Public Works Director Joe Cekus said he knew trouble was on the way. “I was looking in the sky for rotation and I heard a train,” he said. “I quickly…

Two pickup trucks in the 7400 block of Roberts Road in Bridgeview were destroyed by fire. (Photos by Steve Metsch)

Bridgeview family loses two pickup trucks, but house is saved

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Steve Metsch A Bridgeview family in the 7400 block of Roberts Road knows first-hand the damage weather can do. When high winds hit around 9:30 p.m. Monday as a tornado blew through Justice, a cemetery and then into Bridgeview, two power lines were brought down near their bi-level house. One line fell…

Rihanna will open her first Savage X Fenty store in Illinois at Orland Square Mall on Friday. (Photo by Allie Baar)

Rihanna to open Savage X Fenty store in Orland Park on Friday

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Bob Bong Barbados superstar Rihanna will open her first Savage X Fenty store in Illinois on Friday morning in Orland Square Mall in Orland Park. The singer, actor and businesswoman will open the store at the mall’s lower level near the Coach store at 10 a.m. Savage X Fenty will host a…

The Village of Palos Park encouraged residents to unplug their devices for a day at part of Unplug Illinois on July 13. (Supplied photo)

Palos Park encourages residents to unplug

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Kelly White The Village of Palos Park encouraged residents to unplug their devices for a day at part of Unplug Illinois on Saturday, July 13. The day is a state-wide effort, started in 2014, to encourage everyone to “plug into” the amazing recreational opportunities offered by local park and recreation agencies. The…

Portillo's Hot Dogs (PRNewsFoto/Portillo's Hot Dogs)

Comings & Goings: Portillo’s coming to Orland Park

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva After the Orland Park Village Board voted Monday night to allow for a special use program, it set the wheels in motion for a Portillo’s Hot Dogs drive through to be built at 20 Orland Square Drive, the site of the shuttered Denny’s. It will be a 3,305-foot square building…

Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau said that pre-concert problems caused by the weather on July 13 are fixable.
(Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Mayor says Centennial Park West concert snafus ‘easily solvable’

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva The weather gods hit Orland Park’s Pat Benatar concert with their worst shot. A major storm took place July 13 when the event at the refurbished Centennial Park West was scheduled to open the gates. That caused a delay in opening the gates for 40 minutes which resulted in massive…

reporter worth welcome sign

Worth approves $590,000 for street repairs

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Joe Boyle A variety of projects ranging from street repairs and a new pump station for the golf course have been approved for the Village of Worth. A bid was awarded to Lindahl Brothers during the Worth Village Board meeting Tuesday night. Lindahl was the lowest bidder among four entries at $590,384.90 for future…

CRR_NH

Clear-Ridge Reporter and NewsHound July 17, 2024

Spread the love

Spread the love

Alumni Association members Heather Leininger, Emily Szymczak, Candice Mares and Miriam Cruz (at table) lead a crowd of LeaderShop alumni and community members waving posters saying Morals Matter, Demand Change, and Integrity for the Kids. (Photos by S. Kirchman)

LeaderShop alumni, board meeting turns testy at times

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy S. Kirchman The LeaderShop Alumni Association rallied under the pavilion at The LeaderShop office in La Grange for the board’s scheduled 6 p.m. meeting after it was switched from in-person to virtual earlier on Thursday. The Alumni Association consists of volunteers, previous staff members, former members of the board of directors, funders,…

Cleveland Cavaliers guard-forward Max Strus hits a 3-pointer last season over the Boston Celtics' Jaylen Brown. Photo courtesy of Max Strus

Hometown Hoops Hero: Stagg alum Max Strus discusses his rise through the NBA, hitting big shots and his annual youth hoops camp

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Xavier Sanchez Correspondent A lot of changes have taken place for Max Strus during the past year. While the Cleveland Cavaliers guard has played in an NBA Finals and been featured as No. 1 on ESPN SportsCenter’s “Top Plays,” among other noteworthy events, the Stagg alum is the same homegrown kid who…