Landowners are being asked to sign Rock Island Clean Line’s voluntary easement contract so they can construct a high voltage DC transmission line across 16 Iowa counties, all on private property. The transmission line will carry energy from an estimated, yet to be constructed, 2,000 wind turbines in northwest Iowa (or possibly all in South Dakota).
At first glance, the compensation package from Rock Island Clean Line, or RICL, looks quite lucrative, but hold on! Using RICL’s example of $8,000 per acre (90 percent of fair market), a landowner could expect an average payment of $82,000 for a half-mile-long easement including 2 towers. Depending on where RICL’s line traverses a farm, an easement could likely cut a farm in half. According to appraiser Kurt Kielisch of OshKosh, Wis., a farm divided by a transmission line could devalue it 10 percent to 30 percent.
Assuming a 160-acre farm was sold at market value of $8,888 per acre, it could potentially lose $426,624 in value using a 30 percent reduction. Even with only a 10 percent reduction in value, a 160-acre farm would lose $142,208.
Now start tacking on other expenses and losses, such as income tax on RICL’s easement payment, crop production loss, future crop production loss, tile damage, possible GPS interference, possible drone technology interference, inability to aerial spray, possible health risks, etc. RICL’s compensation package doesn’t look so good after all.
The classic advice of buyers beware now becomes sellers beware! Please don’t sign these voluntary easement contracts.
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