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      Ameren hosts open house on new transmission line project

      The Ameren Transmission Corporation says a new multi million dollar electric transmission line should be up and running across central Illinois by the end of 2019.

      The company wants to gather data from area residents about the plan and then it will be submitted to the Illinois Commerce Commission for their review and approval.

      The tentative plan is for the line to cross through 21 counties.

      "What really has happened in the United States is that we haven't had a huge investment in transmission for over 50 years. We're more flexible with a more robust transmission system. This line gives us a wonderful flexible grid here in Illinois," Peggy Ladd, who is a an Ameren manager for transmission business development said.

      The process is beginning now, but construction won't actually start until 2015 with the final piece of the project to be completed by 2019. When it's constructed the system will feature single mono poles that will carry 345,000 volts of electricity to and from communities in the Midwest. The line will cover about 330 miles of land across the central part of the state.

      "These megawatts that will use this line, may come from as far away as Manitoba. They may come from as far away as North Dakota. They may come from right here in the State of Illinois. It's just a matter of which generation can be used and how can we decrease the congestion so that we can have access to all the generation on the lines," Ladd said.

      It's not known how many construction jobs will be created during this project. The final cost of construction is estimated to be between $890 million and $1.4 billion dollars. The average Ameren customer will see an increase of only about $.40 cents a month as customers will only foot about 9% of the bill with the other 91% being covered by other utility companies that will also utilize the system.

      There will be two more open houses in Quincy to discuss the project and to gather input from residents.

      The open house in July will reveal a preliminary path for the transmission line.

      And the last open house will be held in September.

      No dates have yet been set for the remaining two open houses.