$250 Million Wind Energy Substation To Be In O’Brien County

Date posted - January 25, 2012

The company that wants to build a wind energy power transmission line to connect northwest Iowa with the east coast has decided on a general location for a $250 million substation.

The Rock Island Clean Line has selected converter station locations at both ends of the line, in Iowa and in Illinois. The converter station in Iowa will serve as a wind energy collection hub, changing incoming alternating current power from wind farms into direct current power. Besides transferring electricity from one line to another, the converter stations also must switch AC to DC or DC to AC because the proposed line is a high voltage DC power line.  HVDC is more efficient than HVAC.

After conducting multiple wind resource studies and technical analyses, Clean Line officials report that they have selected O’Brien County as the site for the windward converter station. O’Brien County is located in the heart of Iowa’s best wind resources, many of which are undeveloped, and locating the converter station in this area will maximize the opportunity for new wind farm development.  A specific location has yet to be selected.

At the other end of the transmission line in Illinois, the second converter station will change the direct current power back into alternating current power, which then will be transmitted into the grid where it can be used by homes and businesses.  That station will be in Grundy County, IL

Company officials report that the converter station for an HVDC transmission line looks similar to a typical electricity substationwith the addition of a building that holds the converter valves in an enclosed environment. The converter station will take up between 45 and 65 fenced acres.

The project’s name “Rock Island Clean Line” is a throwback to the Rock Island Railroad.  The original idea was for the line to roughly follow the route of the Rock Island Rail.  But while railroads wanted to go through big cities, the power line wants to stay away from them as much as possible, so they didn’t exactly follow that route.

By Scott Van Aartsen News Director

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