The Preservation of Rural Iowa Alliance 
November 2015  Newsletter 
Happy Thanksgiving word cloud on a  vintage slate blackboard surrounded by pumpkins

Message From The Board of Directors

The board of directors took a break during harvest from our weekly board meetings but during that time we continued to monitor the activities of RICL, the Iowa Utilities Board and other Clean Line Projects.  

Now that harvest is completed the board of directors resumed our routine board meetings. The statement - NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS - continues to be the case. Recent media attention to the RICL project revolves around NO ACTIVITY by RICL and suspension of activity by the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) on this project. We will continue to monitor the project and other Clean Line Energy projects closely and provide you with updates on a regular basis.  If you have questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact us by phone or email. 

Happy Holiday Season! 
Thank you for remaining strong in your opposition to stop the abuse of eminent domain and your ongoing support for our grass roots organization. 

Carolyn Sheridan 
Board of Director President 
On Behalf of The Preservation of Rural Iowa Alliance 
Current Status of RICL with the IUB
Rock Island Clean Line suspended Iowa Utilities Board activities in Iowa in late May. This has not changed. The IUB is not doing any work on the franchise petitions until further notice.
Here is more information: 
  1. We recently reached out to the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) to inquire about the current status of RICL.  The IUB informed us in September and again last week that RICL contacted them in May to request no further work be done on the RICL franchise petitions until further notice.  The IUB has not done any work on the franchise petitions in all 16 counties since that time.  
  2. The difference now is the response by RICL to questions from the media.                                                                       
  • Click on link to read information from an article by Ryan Foley From the Associated Press in an recent article entitled: Company Slows Plan for $2B Line to Ship Iowa Wind Energy
    • Those closely monitoring the project say they were told months ago it had been put on hold. Land agents haven't been in the state for months. Iowa Republican Gov. Terry Branstad, a supporter of the line, said at a wind energy conference in September that the plan had "kind of been placed on hold right now. Clean Line Energy Partners spokeswoman Sarah Bray said the next day that the project was "certainly still moving forward," with biological studies, wind resource assessment and commercial discussions.                                                                                                                                         
    • Recently Bray struck a different tone in response to an inquiry."Given the unique regulatory structure in Iowa, we are currently assessing ways to move the project forward and continue easement negotiations without incurring significant financial and regulatory risk," she wrote in an email.                                                                                     

 Following the Associated Press release there have been a number of    news articles relaying similar information across the state of Iowa.      Here are the main facts: 

    • RICL status remains the same
    • This is NOT something NEW 
    • The "suspension of activity" happened in May/June
    • RICL statement regarding this suspension of activity has changed from a "moving forward message" to "assessing ways to move forward without significant risk". 
    • Until all petitions for franchise are deemed "in order" by the Iowa Utilities Board this project is essentially on an indefinite hold.  
    • There is no timeline established by the IUB regulation that requires RICL to have this part of the process completed.
    • Our organization will continue to monitor all activities of RICl and the IUB very closely.
Click to view voluntary easement numbers in each county
Voluntary Easements:  
Remain at Less than 15% 
The number of voluntary easements HAS NOT CHANGED with 177 registered at county court houses in all 16 counties. The Alliance still routinely checks each county court house to monitor these numbers. 

There are no Land Agents working in Iowa at this time BUT Low numbers of voluntary easements continues to be a critical part of our strategic plan.  
Contact our organization if you hear from a land agent or if you are contacted by RICL by mail or phone. We cannot let our guard down during this self imposed "pause or break" being taken by RICL. 
Illinois Update 
APPEALS COURT WILL HEAR ORAL ARGUMENTS IN ROCK ISLAND TRANSMISSION LINE CASE DECEMBER 1, 2015. The Third Appellate Court has scheduled oral argument on the Illinois Commerce Commission's (ICC) Order on the Rock Island Clean Line (RICL) for December 1. The ICC's application of existing utility laws to this novel, merchant transmission proposal have been appealed by several parties representing landowners, agricultural interests, and a major utility. 
In conjunction with the oral arguments, the Appellate Court will review findings of fact and the ICC's application of the law to the facts. There is no time line for the Appellate Court to make a decision. Because of the volume of documents and the precedent setting nature of the case, it could be many months before a ruling is made.
We will continue to monitor what is happening to this portion of the RICL project in Illinois and provide you with updates as we learn more. For more information go to the Block RICL website or follow Block RICL on FaceBook.
Collaboration with other states who have  Clean Line Energy projects is an important aspect of our strategy. All states have different processes but much of the Clean Line information and strategies are the same.
We are working with the leaders of several states for frequent updates and strategies that will be helpful to our projects. 

 The Grain Belt Express is the project that we are most closely associated with because of the many similarities in our projects. Here is the status of the opposition groups in the states involved in this project that we maintain frequent communication with.  

Recently, the Illinois Commerce Commission granted Grain Belt permission to build in Illinois but grassroots group Block Grain Belt Express remains undaunted by the decision, and more determined than ever to continue their fight. Landowners and concerned citizens of Illinois are preparing to request a rehearing and gearing up for a potential appeal. They have a particularly good case because the staff, judge, and two of the commissioners agreed that the Commission violated the law by allowing Grain belt to use the expedited process which is reserved for public utilities only.

Block Grain Belt Express - Missouri                                                           In Missouri - opponents of Grain Belt Express recently won another significant victory in their efforts to block construction of the proposed transmission line through Missouri. Last month, the Caldwell County Circuit Court found that a project franchise initially granted by the County, but later rescinded, was void. Under Missouri law, Grain Belt Express must have the franchise of all counties crossed in order to build its project. On October 7, the Circuit Court issued an Order finding in favor of the Missouri Landowners Association. The time for Grain Belt to appeal that Order has now passed. Therefore, as a practical matter, Grain Belt now has no legal authority to build its proposed line across Caldwell County. 

The opposition in Arkansas is in the process of organizing into a legal entity for landowners and awaiting the Department of Energy (DOE) decision on a partnership with Clean Line for Plains and Eastern.
2016 Legislative Action  

The November 18th Midwestern Energy article stated the following in relation to the upcoming legislative session:            
Two years since Clean Line held its first meetings with landowners, the lack of any deadline for the completion of this phase is distressing to affected landowners, Sheridan said. Plans to buy or sell or develop land are basically on hold, she said, because it's unclear what will happen to the parcels along the route.
Noting that one landowner has postponed his plans to buy a hog-confinement building, Sheridan said, Clean Line is "holding this land across Iowa hostage."
Representative Bobby Kaufman shares that sentiment, and intends to introduce a bill in the 2016 legislature to address that issue. His bill will establish a deadline for completing the collection of voluntary easements, at most two years from the date of the first public meeting held with landowners.
"They shouldn't be allowed to sit on a project like they're doing now," he said. Click to Read this entire article article

Find out where your legislators stand on eminent domain, private property rights and the need for a timeline for projects like RICL.  The upcoming legislative session will be here soon and we need to be prepared to ask our legislators to take action on this and other projects that jeopardize private property rights. Click to find contact Information  for your  Senators  and Representatives
Our email newsletters are archived on our website with a history of what has happened since our first meeting in Ayrshire in July 2013.  Click here to check out our past newsletters.  Look for newsletters and post cards in the upcoming months as we continue to keep you updated on all important issues. 

Facebook - follow us on Facebook for frequent updates and links to relevant articles and information from other opposition groups. 

Our website continues to be one of the best ways to stay in touch with people regarding important issues. We are working hard to update the website after a busy harvest season. Thank you for your understanding as we continue to provide you with updated information. 

Check out our website for updates and to find information on the proposed RICL project. 

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