A company proposing to run power lines through Illinois wants to be declared a utility.
Clean Line Energy Partners wants to build transmission lines to carry wind energy from the plains states to Illinois. If they are granted utility status, they would have a shot at eminent domain powers along the route of the so called "Grain Belt Express" in west central and southern Illinois.
The company's Mark Lawler says they'd prefer to acquire the land in negotiations, but eminent domain helps with the planning:
"Anytime you have eminent domain, it is important to remember that it is only granted if there is a public benefit to the state...to the people. So you have to demonstrate and provide that service in order to have that."
If they receive approval from state regulators, they would hope to begin operations in four years.