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Several farmers against proposal bringing wind energy to Missouri

MONROE COUNTY – Several mid-missouri farmers said they’re currently trying to prevent the approval of a proposal that would bring more renewable energy to Missouri.

The Grain Belt Express transmission line, a 750 mile long line, would be built across Missouri if the proposal goes through. The line would transfer wind energy to several states including Missouri.

However, the proposal would also cause several 150-200 foot transmission towers to be built across mid- Missouri, including on several farmers’ land.

Kevin Dye is the third generation owner of Dye farms and he said a transmission line would come through his land if the proposal gets approved. He said it would be very disruptive.

“A big thing is working around these poles with this large equipment, you know we don’t have 40 and 50 foot wide equipment anymore, it slows you up, makes you more inefficient, is more dangerous,” Dye said.

Dye said he questions whether the proposal will bring the wind energy Missourians are looking for.

“Why would a private company stop in Missouri and deposit this energy when they can go east and make a lot more money,” Dye said.

Missouri will get 14 percent of the total wind energy from the project according to the proposal. Columbia Water and Light advisory board member Hank Ottinger said this is enough energy to power 200,000 homes.

Ottinger said Columbia’s goal is to have 15 percent of the city’s energy come from renewable sources by 2018. He said he feels this proposal is the way to get there.

“If we are going to meet those goals, we’re going to have to require more renewable energy, wind offers the largest opportunity to meet that goal,” Ottinger said.

While Ottinger said he sympathizes for farmers, he said the transmission line is for the greater good.

“It’s unfortunate some people have to be inconvenienced, angered certainly, but as I said it’s for the better good for the state and for the country,” Ottinger said.

Farmers would receive monetary compensation if a line is put on their land. However, Dye said no money can make up for the long term disruption of his farm.

“We haven’t even mentioned aesthetics yet. Putting a 150 foot line on land that I will pass down to my son, my granddaughter, what’s the price of that,” Dye said.

Opponents and Supporters will make their case to the Missouri Public Service Commission during several open hearings that began on November 10 and go throughout November.

If the commission approves the proposal, construction on the transmission line could begin as soon as next year.