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Ameren Asks For Public Input On Route For High Voltage Line

There are multiple ways for Ameren to route its proposed new high voltage line in McLean County.

Ameren Illinois is planning a 10-mile, high-voltage transmission line from near Hudson to Normal.

It's part of the company's $45 million project to modernize transmission systems in McLean County and provide greater reliability.

Ameren wants input on putting up poles as high as 130 feet tall and 100-foot easements along the eventual route from west of Hudson to a substation at Hershey and Raab roads.

Power pole
Credit Ameren
A toll monopole in the Spoon River territory for Ameren is similar to ones planned for the McLean County project.

Project Manager Jami Stone said the company wants residents to tell them how construction will affect their land.

"If there is something there that we can't gain just from maps and geographical data, we want to hear about it. We want their input and for them to know that we are listening to their input," said Stone.

Ameren said each of its Illinois customers would have to pay about $1.50 per year for 60 years for the improvements in McLean County. Ameren has other projects it said will also allow for better reliability and future growth in demand for power. The cost of those projects will also be included in the ICC filing and requested rate increase.

Stone said Ameren uses four criteria for planning installations.

"Sensitivities are to avoid people's homes, day cares, churches, farmland, watersheds, things of that nature. Then we also have to look at being cost effective so we can build it from a technical standpoint," said Stone.

Ameren will develop two proposed routes, a preferred route and an alternative alignment, which it will submit to the ICC. Stone said the ICC will choose one or the other, or commissioners could use pieces of both based on testimony, public comment, and its own review of studies.

Growth has slowed in McLean County over the last decade. But Stone said Ameren growth projections take into account the likelihood of increased demand from adoption of electric vehicles, and a shift in emphasis to higher density smart growth in Bloomington-Normal. She said potential mitigated demand should solar power become more widely adopted are difficult to quantify. She said a more reliable grid would be of use to people feeding into the system as well as taking from it.

Credit Ameren
Construction of the new line could begin in 2020 according to a draft schedule from Ameren.

Once a route is chosen, Ameren Illinois will negotiate with landowners over the price of an easement. Open houses will be at the Radisson Hotel & Conference Center in Normal on Nov. 7 from 5-7 p.m. and Nov. 8th from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m.

The project will go to the Illinois Commerce Commission for approval in February of next year.

GLT's full story about the Ameren High Voltage Project

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WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.