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Area residents hear details of wind energy proposal  

Credit:  By Ray Scherer St. Joseph News-Press | July 17, 2013 | www.newspressnow.com ~~

CAMERON, Mo. — Details of a proposal that would create a regional wind energy network were offered to a large group of Northwest Missouri landowners Wednesday evening.

Clean Line Energy Partners held an open house at the Cameron Community Center on its Grain Belt Express transmission project through Missouri. Its officials are hoping to build a $2 billion wind energy project over 700 miles that would send direct-current electricity from Kansas to eastern states, where demand is rising.

Potential routes still are under review and could change, based on public feedback. Clean Line is holding the sessions in various communities through mid-month in an effort to elicit feedback from landowners within its
“planning corridors” around each possible route.

Before the session, Mark Lawlor, Clean Line’s director of development, said a mandatory governmental approval process continues to advance in Kansas, where regulators received a linesiting application Monday.

“Where are you allowed to go along?” will be the central question in the next phase of the Kansas regulatory procedure, Mr. Lawlor said. An order is expected from the state sometime in mid-November.

Project officials will file paperwork with the Missouri Public Service Commission in the first quarter of 2014. It’s estimated that a decision on the application will be forthcoming by the end of that year.

“They basically grant a territory for our case,” Mr. Lawlor said of the Missouri process. “It’s a narrow, defined territory.”

Organizers have been receiving a positive response to the Grain Belt plan, he said.

“People are really excited,” he said. “It means jobs.”

However, opposition to the wind energy network has mounted in Kansas.

“If you don’t have information, you can be fearful of it,” Mr. Lawlor said, referring to attempts to meet with opponents. “We don’t have any preconceived notion about these routes.”

More than 10,000 open house invitations have been extended to landowners in the region. Sessions for businesses interested in contracting work for the construction also have been rated a success.

“The nature of this (Grain Belt) is a big civil works project,” Mr. Lawlor said. Companies involved in surveying, concrete and rights of way are among those that have a stake in the endeavor.

“All of these are local,” he added of the jobs.

Several potential routes through Missouri and Kansas all generally extend south of cities such as St. Joseph and Hiawatha, Kan. The Keystone and Rockies Express natural gas pipeline systems both represent possible parallels.

“You’d like to follow existing infrastructure,” he said. Buchanan County would pose more constraints that the transmission line would need to navigate.

Analysis of public feedback in Missouri will take six months, with additional open houses to be scheduled for early next year.

Clean Line spokeswoman Kelsey Rockey said there also has been good attendance by the general public at the meetings.

“We encourage anybody to come and learn about it,” she said of the project.

Source:  By Ray Scherer St. Joseph News-Press | July 17, 2013 | www.newspressnow.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.


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