August 13, 2014

Hundreds protest proposed Northeast Missouri transmission line

By Nick Adams, Multimedia Journalist | August 12, 2014 |

A company wanting to build an electrical transmission line through Missouri wants the state to grant it a certificate of convenience and necessity, which would allow them to become a public utility company in the show me state. That would allow them to use eminent domain to acquire land it needs for the project if necessary.

Local residents are fighting to protect their property. The Missouri Public Service Commission heard testimony from more than 40 people concerning the Grain Belt Express Line at Hannibal LaGrange University Tuesday night.

The Grain Belt Express would cut through all of Missouri and run up through Northeast Missouri, including Monroe and Ralls counties. However, construction wouldn’t be able to start until the Public Service Commission allows Clean Line Energy to be a public service utility company, something hundreds of people are trying to stop.

Many opponents of the transmission line feel if they don’t agree to an offer from Clean Line Energy, the company will be able to take it by eminent domain if they’re granted public status. Jennifer Gatrel is part of a group known as Block Grain Belt Express. She said it’s not right an out of state company can possibly have the option to force Missouri farmers to sell their land.

“We are not going to take this lying down,” she said. “We will do whatever it takes to protect our property rights and we will have the right to say no.”

For Kristen Denham, the proposed route would impact her property, and that raises other worries.

“Concerns with radiation with livestock, water, ground, human radiation, and just concern with farmers losing their land,” she said.

However, Clean Line Energy Analyst Cari Vanamburg said this project is something that can benefit the entire state of Missouri.

“Thousands of temporary jobs. You’ll have hundreds of thousands of dollars every year in tax revenue to the counties that will host the line as well as 500 megawatts of clean wind power for the state,” she said.

There’s still a lot of variables to figure out with the project, such as which transmission towers will be used. They would range from 140 to 150 feet tall. Vanamburg said clean wind energy can also help put money back into the pocketbooks of Missourians.

“They are also becoming very cost competitive, and that’s what really drives this project is it’s not only the renewable aspect but also it’s a competitive source of energy that won’t cause Missourians rates to go up,” Vanamburg said.

The Missouri Public Service Commission will take a position on September 4th. However a ruling won’t be made until later this year.

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