APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Champaign County; the Hon.
HAROLD L. JENSEN, Judge, presiding.
MR. JUSTICE WEBBER DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Rehearing denied September 11, 1980.
Plaintiffs seek review of an order of the Illinois Commerce Commission (the Commission) granting the power of eminent domain to the Illinois Power Company (the Company) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 111 2/3, par. 63). The circuit court of Champaign County has affirmed the Commission's order (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 111 2/3, par. 72), and we affirm both the Commission and the circuit court (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 111 2/3, par. 73).
The case has a lengthy history and a voluminous record, much of which is of no concern here. The learned trial judge filed a cogent memorandum opinion which has been of great help to this court.
As nearly always happens with cases of this genre, there were two sets of hearings and two orders issued by the Commission. The first was pursuant to section 55 of the Public Utilities Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 111 2/3, par. 56) (the 55 order) and the second was pursuant to sections 50 and 59 of the Public Utilities Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 111 2/3, pars. 50 and 63) (the 50/59 order). The plaintiffs-appellants here were intervenors in both of the proceedings before the Commission.
The Illinois Power Company proposes to construct, operate, and maintain approximately 33.47 miles of new 345 KV electrical transmission line through Coles, Douglas, and Champaign counties. This line will extend from Central Illinois Public Service Company's West Kansas substation in Ashmore Township, Coles County, through farmland to the Illinois Power Company's 345 KV transmission line near Sidney, in Sidney Township, Champaign County. As the first step in accomplishing this object, the Company filed with the Commission on September 19, 1975, its petition for the 55 order.
Between October 1975 and March 1976 the Commission held hearings on this petition. As indicated above, plaintiffs were permitted to intervene and participated in the hearings. On May 19, 1976, the Commission issued its 55 order which granted to the Company a certificate of convenience and necessity for the proposed 345 KV line.
It is of central significance to our disposition of this case that this 55 order was never appealed and still stands, unreversed and unmodified.
The 50/59 order, here appealed from, had its origin in the second petition filed by the Company with the Commission on September 30, 1977. Hearings were held with plaintiffs-appellants again participating as intervenors and culminated with the 50/59 order issued December 6, 1978, which granted the Company the power of eminent domain with which to acquire the necessary easements for right-of-way for the proposed 345 KV line.
As matters now stand the Company possesses a valid certificate of convenience and necessity. It also possesses the power of eminent domain to implement its certificate, although so far as this record discloses, that power has yet to be exercised.
The plaintiffs raise a variety of issues for our consideration, but after examining the record and briefs and listening to the oral arguments, we believe that the root controversy between the parties is over the nature of the equipment needed to carry the proposed 345 KV line. In both its 55 and 50/59 orders the Commission directed that it be strung on two-pole, H-wooden structures. Plaintiffs contend that such structures are dangerous to work around, reduce farming efficiency and are environmentally insulting. They demand a single pole, metal structure.
The 55 order recites the principal issues considered and adjudicated in that proceeding as follows:
"Four major points of interest were scrutinized by the Intervenor and Commission Staff in this case, i.e., (1) the necessity for the proposed transmission line, (2) the selection of the route for the proposed transmission line, (3) the type of structures to be utilized and (4) placement of structures with respect to existing utilization lines, i.e., section lines, half-section lines, farming divisions, fence lines, etc."
It would encumber this opinion too greatly to recite verbatim all of the Commission's findings on these issues. We are satisfied that its findings and order on each were amply supported by the evidence before it. It found that there was a necessity for the line; it gave the Company directions as to its placement with ...