It’s not fair, Barton County resident Jana Reed told the County Commission Monday morning in regards to the wind energy transmission line that is proposed to cross her family’s property near Galatia.
Although she was told by county officials the county has no say in the actions of Houston, Texas,-based Clean Line Energy Partners, she said the county should make a stand. “You do have the right to fight for Barton County residents.”
The proposed route runs west of Great Bend and north, following U.S. Highway 281 to just south of Russell, where it will jog east of that city. The transmission lines will run through private property, and land owners will be asked to sign legally binding agreements.
And those agreements are the problem, Reed said.
Because of the path of the line over the family land, it will interfere with at least one oil-producing lease. She’s been told that the lease will no longer be able to be serviced and have to be plugged.
The oil well has produced 42,000 barrels per year since 2007. It is valued at $4.5 million.
She said they will lose that revenue and not have any say in the matter. She maintains that she was unaware of Clean Line’s intentions and just learned of the potential impact.
Reed wants the county to seek an injunction. Such action was taken in Marshall County and she said opposition is growing in Russell County.
She also said other area landowners who are just now grasping the issue are starting to complain.
However, said County Administrator Richard Boeckman, the matter falls under the Kansas Corporation Commission’s jurisdiction. The county can write a letter, but it would have no legal standing.
Some on the commission were sympathetic to Reed’s plight. “I don’t think they did their homework,” said commissioner Kenny Schremmer of Clean Line which should have addressed this earlier.
Others said this amounted to stealing from the landowners and that the project won’t bring much in terms of benefits to the county. Clean Line is getting tax exemptions for the project.
But, there were also those who backed Clean Line’s effort.
“This is a sign of progress,” said commissioner Homer Kruckenberg. “I don’t think it is the role of the County Commission to fight the transmission line.”
As a farmland owner, he said he had been kept informed. He didn’t understand how Reed had not gotten the word.
“It’s going to go,” Kruckenberg said. “This is bigger than any individual.”
“I think this is serious,” Chairman Don Cates said. He felt for Reed, but said the commission needs to examine the matter further by including it in an upcoming study session.
Clean Line is developing the Grain Belt Express, a electricity transmission line to move 3,500 megawatts of wind energy from Ford County in western Kansas to communities in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and points farther east. The energy will be transported via an approximately 700-mile overhead, high-voltage direct current transmission line at a cost of about $2 million per mile.
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