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Company proposes underground line to carry wind power to Chicago

On Monday, Direct Connect Development Co. announced it wants to build a 2,100-megawatt high-voltage transmission line that would run underground from Mason City, Iowa to the Chicago area along existing railroad lines, primarily the Canadian Pacific.

The company’s innovative project is called the SOO Green Renewable Rail Project. And with it, Direct Connect intends to write a new chapter in the history of rail in the United States.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Direct Connect has already lined up three major investors for the $2.5 billion project that would run 349-miles from Mason City, Iowa to a substation in Plano, Illinois.

A developer proposes transmitting wind energy from rural Iowa to eastern U.S. cities through an unde...

A developer proposes transmitting wind energy from rural Iowa to eastern U.S. cities through an underground high-voltage transmission line that would run along an existing railroad line.
SOO Green project

The main investors are Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, Jingoli Power, and Siemens Financial Services. Siemens is also responsible for the overall system design, engineering, manufacturing, civil works, installation, and commissioning of the HVDC converter stations.

The route is almost entirely made up of existing railroad rights-of-way (ROW), and for this reason, there will be little, if any use of landowner properties. And by using the pre-existing transportation system, the permitting and construction process will be simplified. Around 600 jobs will be created with this project.

Actually, fiber-optic and pipelines are often built along railroad tracks controlled by the rail lines. In the SOO Green project, an underground High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) line comprised of two slender cables buried in the ROW will be used. HVDC is superior to alternating current (AC) lines for longer routes due to its lower energy losses and smaller footprint.

The transmission line would run in land that runs along existing Canadian Pacific railroad tracks.

The transmission line would run in land that runs along existing Canadian Pacific railroad tracks.
Slambo at English Wikipedia

“The successful deployment of this HVDC technology along railroads will create a market segment that doesn’t exist today, and DC DevCo believes that the SOO Green project will set the standard regarding how transmission lines are developed and constructed in the U.S.,” said Trey Ward, DC DevCo’s CEO, reports Windpower.

In 2016, a similar project by a different company was rejected because they wanted to use overhead transmission lines. Called the Rock Island Clean Line, it was supposed to run from northwest Iowa into Illinois at a cost of $2 billion.

The SOO Green project still requires several local, state, and federal permit approvals, including the Iowa Utilities Board and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. But DC DevCo suggests that it could be operational by 2024.

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We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of our dear friend Karen Graham, who served as Editor-at-Large at Digital Journal. She was 78 years old. Karen's view of what is happening in our world was colored by her love of history and how the past influences events taking place today. Her belief in humankind's part in the care of the planet and our environment has led her to focus on the need for action in dealing with climate change. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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