On July 28, 2010, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed Public Act 96-1348 (the Act). The Act amends the Illinois Public Utilities Act and permits a public utility to avoid otherwise applicable requirements to obtain a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) in order to do any of the following types of high voltage transmission projects (collectively, the Exempt HVSL Projects):
- Replace or upgrade any existing high voltage electric service lines1 (HVSL) and related facilities, notwithstanding its length;
- Relocate any HVSL and related facilities, notwithstanding its length, to accommodate construction or expansion of a roadway or other transportation infrastructure; or
- Construct an HVSL and related facilities that is constructed solely to serve a single customer's premises or to provide a generator interconnection to the public utility's transmission system if it will pass under or over the premises owned by the customer or generator to be served or under or over premises for which the customer or generator has secured the necessary right of way.
In addition, Section 8-406.1 of the Act2 provides an expedited CPCN review process for the construction of any other HVSL and related facilities (an HVSL Project) and the Act includes an expedited approval for related eminent domain power under Section 8-509. The expedited CPCN review process requires the applicant to submit a variety of HVSL Project-related information and to pay a $100,000 application fee, and further requires the Illinois Commerce Commission to issue a decision regarding the CPCN for the HVSL Project (and related findings of fact and conclusions of law) no later than 150 days following the filing date of the application.
The Act promises to significantly expedite HVSL Projects in Illinois and should please public utilities that had supported the Act and had cited delays and backlogs due to required CPCN approvals for new transmission projects to connect coal mining customers and their facilities. Of course, the Act also applies to qualifying interconnection projects for wind and other renewable resources.
1. Defined in the Act (see 220 ILCS 5/8-406(g)) to mean an electric line with a design voltage of 100kV or more.
2. See 220 ILCS 5/8-406.1, a new provision added to the Public Utilities Act by the Act.