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Proposed power line leaves farmers concerned

A proposed high-voltage power line could make Iowa wind energy more accessible, but Peter Beck is not excited with the idea of a power line running through his farmland.

“I think some people have said maybe you’re a NIMBY, a not-in-my-back-yard person, but there’s a lot of back yards on this 500 mile corridor,” Beck, a farmer in Black Hawk County, said.

A meeting was held in Waterloo Wednesday to discuss the Rock Island Clean Line, a proposed 500 mile piece of infrastructure to bring wind energy generated in northwest Iowa all the way to Illinois. Clean Line Energy Partners officials said it would power 1.4 million homes with renewable energy every year. Officials also said it would bring $130,000 in property taxes to Black Hawk County, and create 500 permanent jobs in western Iowa.

But critics of the plan feel there’s no real local benefit. Some are also worried about safety.

“There is no health impact for a (direct current) line, no health impact associated with the electric or magnetic fields,” said Charlie Ary, an Associate with Clean Line.

Others think the proposal is a bait-and-switch, but Clean Line said that’s also not true.

“The easement agreement that we actually will have with the owner will specify that it will be a transmission line, not a pipeline, not a communications line,” Ary said.

To be approved by the Iowa Utility Board, Clean Line has to prove that the project is useful to the public. But Beck said doesn’t see how this benefits eastern Iowa.

“This has nothing for us,” he said. “This is all for people east of Illinois. We get nothing out the deal.”

Clean Line wants to begin construction in 2015, and compete the line by 2017. They were legally obligated to hold the meeting Wednesday afternoon before negotiating with landowners.