At the 2014 Synod Assembly voting members passed Resolution S.A.14.06.07, RESOLUTION TO INCREASE AWARENESS OF RICL [Rock Island Clean Line] IN MEMBER CONGREGATIONS, which states;

RESOLVED, that the congregations of the Northeastern Iowa Synod be strongly encouraged to learn more about this complex issue by doing research, holding discussions, and making material available to interested persons.

The Rock Island Clean Line (RICL) is a proposed high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line that would go from near Granville, Iowa, to the Mississippi River south of the Quad Cities.   The stated purpose of the line is to transport electrical power generated by wind energy to markets in Chicago, Illinois, and farther east.

Below is the proposed path for the transmission line. As you can see, the line goes through much of the Northeastern Iowa Synod.

The proposed line has caused some controversy because there is not agreement among landowners and others as to whether or not this project should be allowed to go forward.

According to the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB), 1,040 objections were filed as of May 1 by landowners in the 16 counties to be affected by the line.  Adding to the controversy is Rock Island’s plan to use eminent domain to purchase land to run the line.

Benefits of the Proposed Line According to the Rock Island Clean Line:


  • The project will make possible more than $7 billion of new renewable energy projects. This new investment will result in a significant increase in property tax revenues, landowner royalty payments and direct economic benefit to rural communities.
  • It will bring about rural economic development by creating thousands of construction jobs as well as increased employment opportunities in the manufacturing of turbines, towers and cable.
  • Wind energy generation allows other generators to run less and burn less fuel, eliminating the need for the equivalent amount of energy derived from fossil fuels, thereby reducing pollution.
  • The construction and operation of the Rock Island Clean Line, and the new wind farms that the line will enable to be built, will result in large increases in state and local government tax revenues.
  • By utilizing direct current technology, the Rock Island Clean Line will complement the existing alternating current (AC) system. Direct current transmission lines are more efficient than comparable voltage AC lines, with substantially lower energy losses when moving large amounts of power over long distances.
  • Consumers in Illinois and states to the east will benefit from lower prices.

Objections to the proposed line as Outlined by the Preservation of Rural Iowa Alliance

  • It is a non-public, not regulated high voltage transmission line that will only benefit citizens outside of Iowa.
  • There are already lines and right of ways that fit within existing transmission grid plans that should be used rather than disturbing new land.
  • Eminent domain should not be available to a privately owned transmission line that publicly regulated utilities aren’t using.
  • Evidence for potential adverse long term health effects is still inconclusive.
  • Ongoing research indicates there is a measurable effect on land values with high voltage transmission lines. That effect ranges from a loss of 10% to 30% of the overall property value which significantly impacts the long term value of all types of property and businesses.
  • Many landowners believe the proposed compensation is inadequate.

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About The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson

The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson has been Director for Evangelical Mission, ELCA for the Northeastern Iowa Synod since late 2013. Part of her job description is to help leaders and congregations use social media and other digital means for outreach and mission. She writes and edits this blog as well as runs the social media accounts for the synod.