Sabre Industries

Steel structures for utility lines are shown in one of the large bays inside Sabre Industries' fabrication plant in Sioux City.

SIOUX CITY | A Sioux City factory is expected to manufacture towers for a high-voltage transmission line that will start in Northwest Iowa.

A news conference has been scheduled for Monday to announce details of a contract between Sabre Tubular Structures and Clean Line Energy Partners, the developer of the $2 billion Rock Island transmission line. According to a media advisory released Wednesday, the two firms will "create opportunities for manufacturing jobs and help Iowa maintain its leadership in the wind energy industry."

The 500-mile direct-current line is designed to transfer up to 3,500 megawatts of electricity generated from wind farms in northwest Iowa, northeast Nebraska, southeast South Dakota and southwest Minnesota to power-hungry customers in metro Chicago and other eastern states by 2017.

Sabre Tubular Structures is a division of Alvardo, Texas-based Sabre Industries, which is the nation's largest manufacturer of utilities and wireless communications towers. A year ago, Sabre opened a 192,000-square-foot factory in Sioux City's Southbridge Business Park to help meet the company's growing orders for steel support structures for electrical transmission lines.

The $18 million project was the first phase of a multi-year expansion that will more than double local employment and put all of the company's Sioux City operations under one roof.

Clean Line Energy, a privately owned Houston-based company, has estimated the Rock Island line would generate $7 billion in new investments, and create more than 500 permanent jobs in the region, primarily through growth of makers of components for the transmission line and the many wind farms it would attract.

An estimated 5,000 construction jobs also would be created.

Because it would simply transport power across Iowa and Illinois, rather than deliver it to homes and businesses along the way, the Rock Island line would carry a direct current, rather than the alternating current of most electric lines.

Construction is expected to begin in 2015, but Clean Line must first get the final go-ahead from utility regulators in Iowa and Illinois. The company also is working to secure easements from landowners along the corridor, which would pass through 17 Iowa counties, including O'Brien, Cherokee, Clay and Buena Vista.

Clean Line President Michael Skelly and Sabre Industries President and CEO Peter J. Sandore are scheduled to attend Monday's news conference, which begins at 9 a.m. at the Sabre plant in Sioux City. Iowa Economic Development Director Debi Durham and local leaders also are scheduled to address the audience.

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