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      New high voltage line would electrify three states

      A new line of energy could be on its way to the Midwest.

      Ameren Transmission Company of Illinois is seeking to build a 330-mile high voltage transmission wire across Illinois. The Illinois Rivers Project will be the first of its Grand Rivers projects to bring more reliability to power lines and incorporate renewable energy sources.

      The line will help Ameren Corporation reach its requirement of providing 25-percent renewable energy by 2025, by bringing in wind-generated energy that can be transmitted from state to state.

      Monday in Jacksonville, a community group heard details of the line that will stretch from Marion County, Missouri to Vigo and Sullivan Counties in Indiana. By law, it is required that Ameren host public forums in each of the affected counties. This meeting allowed people who live near the potential line sites to ask questions and voice their concerns.

      "We have to be very careful of a lot of things. We have to be conscious of wetlands. We have to be conscious of archaeological sites. We have to be conscious of endangered species. We have to be conscious of landowners and what they would like to see." said Peggy Ladd, Ameren's manager for transmission business development.

      Ladd says she owns farmland herself, and would hate to have her land cut in two. Ameren will introduce proposed routes along with several alternative routes. Ultimately, though Ameren believes the line will be minimally invasive, private property could conflict with the company's plans.

      The project will use resources from the areas the line will cross. Ladd says Ameren will use local contractors and supplies for the actual building and will hire additional project managers to oversee operations.

      "There are a lot of construction jobs that come out of this project. We estimate about a billion dollars plus or minus 200 million," Ladd said.

      Ameren estimates that for every dollar spent on additional transmission costs through the three-state power line, there will be a $1.80 to $2.80 of savings. At the end of this project in 2019, the total cost to each Ameren customer would be about 50 cents per month, but the savings of the new system would be 2 to 3 times that amount.

      The project has been approved by the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator (MISO) and Ameren wants to file a petition for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity by November 2012. The earliest construction will begin is 2015, and the earliest lines will be usable is 2016.

      Quincy residents are welcome to come to the May 23 public open house from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Quincy City Center Hotel.

      Here is a full list of Open Houses in the Tri-State area:

      May 14, 2012 11:00 a.m. ?? 2:00 p.m. Hamilton??s Catering Service, Inc. 101 Main Street Franklin, IL 62638 5:00 ?? 8:00 p.m. American Legion 136 E State St Waverly, IL 62692 May 17, 2012 11:00 a.m. ?? 2:00 p.m. Elks Club 205 East Second Street Beardstown, IL 62618 5:00 ?? 8:00 p.m. Meredosia-Chambersburg High School 830 Main Street Meredosia, IL 62665 May 18, 2012 11:00 a.m. ?? 2:00 p.m. American Legion E Oakes St Bluffs, IL 62621 May 21, 2012 11:00 a.m. ?? 2:00 p.m. YMCA Route 99 South Mt. Sterling, IL 62353 5:00 ?? 8:00 p.m. American Legion 706 W Lincoln Griggsville, IL 62340 May 22, 2012 11:00 a.m. ?? 2:00 p.m. American Legion 270 E Main St Ipava, IL 61441 5:00 ?? 8:00 p.m. Schuyler Industry Middle School 750 North Congress Street Rushville, IL 62681 May 23, 2012 11:00 a.m. ?? 2:00 p.m. Quincy City Center Hotel 201 South Third Street Quincy, IL 62301 5:00 ?? 8:00 p.m. Community Building 205 East First Bath, IL 62617