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BLOOMINGTON — Ameren Illinois will begin a second round of public meetings where Bloomington residents and businesses can learn more about a proposed 345,000-volt transmission line planned to run across the city’s south side.

An open house will be Thursday at Doubletree by Hilton, 10 Brickyard Drive, from 4 to 7 p.m. Attendees can talk to utility experts about real estate, construction and engineering issues, said Ameren spokesman Leigh Morris.

The meeting, and those that follow, essentially repeat those held in 2009, which preceded the existence of a new state regulatory law, Morris said.

The proposed transmission line would run between Ameren’s Brokaw substation, near Ireland Grove and Towanda Barnes roads, and its Bloomington substation, at Lafayette and Easy streets.

In 2009, the utility selected as its preferred route a path running parallel to existing lines, roads and rail tracks, according to newspaper archives.

Morris said Ameren no longer has a preferred route but will select one after a second public meeting in December. Ameren plans to hold a third public meeting in January before submitting its plans to the Illinois Commerce Commission in February.

The ICC then has no more than 225 days to rule on the appropriateness of Ameren’s preferred route.

The transmission line’s 100-foot right-of-way would be between 5.8 and 6.9 miles long, with metal support poles constructed about every 1,000 feet. Each support structure would have a 10- by 10-foot footprint.

“I certainly would encourage everyone to come to the open house. Larger attendance is better than small,” Morris said. He said Ameren will set up a GPS station, where residents can enter their addresses to see how near their land is to the proposed transmission line area.

Morris said the project is necessary to meet future electricity growth needs and to protect against potential power outages.

The project was previously expected to cost $20 million, but rising material and construction costs have boosted that estimate to $26.7 million, Morris said. He said it’s too early to know if the project cost would cause an increase in customers’ electric bills.

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