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Ameren Illinois is constructing a new, approximately 10-mile 138 kV volt transmission line to improve energy reliability to local customers. The new line will connect the existing McLean County Substation and the upgraded Normal East Substation located near Normal, Illinois. The new line and associated facilities are needed for Ameren Illinois to improve energy reliability and to support continued growth in the area. The McLean County Reliability Project is proposed to be in service by December 2020.
The Project will reduce transmission congestion and improve energy reliability. Through this Project, Ameren Illinois customers will have improved system reliability and support for continued area growth.
Transmission lines are similar to the interstate highway system in the way they will allow energy from generators to travel short or long distances, as needed, at any given moment.
This transmission line is currently estimated to cost $21 million to build. This excludes the cost to design and construct the expand the McLean County Substation and upgrade Normal East Substation.

Ameren Illinois developed final proposed routes for the Mclean County Reliability Project in a methodical and collaborative manner, working with landowners, community officials and agencies in order to develop constructible routes that minimize impacts. Preliminary routes were presented and reviewed over a series of open houses in August, November and December 2017. Ameren Illinois gathered and reviewed opportunities, sensitivities, technical guidelines, statutory requirements, and stakeholder input prior to filing proposed routes with the Illinois Commerce Commission.

On October 10, 2018 the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) approved a route and issued a Certificate for the McLean County Reliability Project. The ICC has selected the orange route with a minor modification displayed on the map available here. For more information on the ICC's decision, visit icc.illinois.gov/docket and enter “18-0455” in the search box.

Single shaft steel pole structures will be used for the Project. Typically, the structures will be self-supported and will not use guy wires or anchors. The average distance between structures is approximately 700 feet or about 7 – 8 structures per mile. The structures are expected to be between 75-130 feet tall.
Before construction can begin, Ameren Illinois will request permission from landowners to access each property to survey for legal boundary, depth of foundation and environmental sensitivities. These preconstruction activities are necessary to ensure sound design and planning of the project and help us address and understand any concerns or unique property features that may be present.

To properly design each transmission line structure, our engineers need information about the soil where the structures will be located. The soil data we gather will help our engineers determine the final design and structure locations, and help to minimize impacts to cultural and biological resources during construction.

The collection of soil information is completed using the following steps by our project team:

  • Partner with our real estate team Salem Group to request property access.
  • Gather samples by our geotechnical field crews from site location by digging a 4-6 inch wide hole into the ground, known as a soil boring. Soil boring areas will be back-filled in after the survey.
  • Review the soil samples to determine the physical properties and layering of the soil.
  • Use the soil information collected to design each foundation and structure dimensions.

The line construction for the McLean County Reliability Project will be completed in the following phases:

construction phases

Affected landowners who have signed an easement with Ameren Illinois will be contacted in person, by phone and/or in writing at least 24 hours prior to the beginning of construction on their property. Construction activities primarily take place during daylight hours (typically 7:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.) but some work may be completed after dusk. Additionally, our contractors may mobilize to and from the job site before dawn or after dusk. Work will occur on weekdays with potential for weekend construction if necessary to maintain project schedule. Construction phases on the project are intermittent and depend upon weather, ground conditions and project resources.

As communities grow and new sources of energy are developed, substations are built to meet the increased energy demand and expand the system's ability to handle more energy. After energy is generated, it's sent to substations via transmission lines. The substations then lower the voltage level and send the electricity to area homes and businesses through distribution lines.

Upgrades at the Normal East Substation help reduce transmission congestion and improve local energy reliability. Through this Project, Ameren Illinois customers will have improved system reliability and support for continued area growth.

Our McLean County Project team will work together to address landowner concerns and issues that may arise during construction. Please contact our team directly at 309.319.7186 (press 1 to connect with the construction supervisor) or by email at: mcleancountyreliabilityproject@ameren.com.
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