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County Board hears wind energy presentation

Another energy company is looking to bring lines through the southern part of the county in its quest to bring wind energy from Kansas to the Eastern grid.

Clean Line Energy representative Rick Cornell presented information about the Grain Belt Express transmission line to County Board members Wednesday morning. Clean Line is based in Houston, TX and is looking to construction several project routes involving wind energy in the Midwest. It is looking to erect lines in several areas of the state.

The 3500 megawatt DC transmission line is a $2 billion investment with the energy to power 4 million houses annually. It will bring with it construction and maintenance jobs, according to Cornell. It is not affiliated with the Ameren Transmission line project.

“We believe it (wind) is cheaper than other forms of energy,” Cornell said.

He added that there will be income for the county at $7,000 per linear mile per year.

“The revenue potential will be there for several decades,” Cornell said.

The company promises to restore whatever land and agricultural operations that would be disrupted during the construction phase. Also the company would repair any roads that would be damaged by the construction.

“We want to leave the land in as pristine condition as possible,” Cornell said.

The company would ask for 150 to 200 feet from each land owner for right-of-way for each of the mono-pole structures. The landowners would also be paid, based on the assessed value of the land, for the structure.

Cornell could not address which townships the line would cross as the Illinois part of the project is still in the study stage. He added that it is possible the line would not go through Shelby County at all. The project already has substations in eastern Kansas and eastern Missouri. They are looking to cross Illinois and erect a substation in either Clark or Crawford County.

“I believe Shelby County is a likely conduit, but it is not a guarantee,” Cornell said.

“This is just a time to hear information,” said Board chairman Bruce Cannon. “We will stay neutral on the issue and back the Farm Bureau and the landowners on their decision.”

Later in the board meeting, Shelby County Farm Bureau manager Amy Rochkes told the board that Clean Line is a private company who has never built a line before. She noted that the Rock Island area project is being opposed.

“Don’t let the money be an attraction,” Rochkes said. “We need to encourage the landowners to attend public meetings.”

“It’s better we stay neutral and see what happens,” Cannon said. “We, as a board, will back the decision of the Farm Bureau.”

Other County Board business will be reported in the Tuesday, December 17, Daily Union.