Opponents of a high-voltage transmission line that would cut through west-central Illinois say they have formed a legal entity to challenge the proposed project.
Members of Block Grain Belt Express Illinois met this week to update the group on its push against the 750-mile high-voltage transmission line known as Grain Belt Express that would move clean power from Kansas to Indiana.
David Buckman, secretary of Block GBE Illinois, said the group is opposed because of what it considers questionable foreign backers, incomplete or nonexistent environmental studies and the infringement on personal property rights.
Audience members asked questions about the Illinois Commerce Commission process and expressed concern about whose idea the project was, since it was not part of an established regional company such as Ameren or Com Ed.
Sherri Butcher of Scottville said Central Illinois Landowners Alliance has been formed as the legal team participating in future hearings at the Illinois Commerce Commission against the project.
Butcher, who will serve as a board member, said the alliance is interested in “how the line affects you and your thoughts on the line.”
“This is so new, that’s why the alliance is so important. We are fighting eminent domain. We are not looking for a compromise. The best thing that can be done is people band together,” she said.
Landowners were notified of the project in November. There have also been a series of public forums about the plan, and another round of open meetings are scheduled for this week.
The line would carry renewable power for about 1.4 million houses from Kansas to Indiana, cutting through Pike County and either central Scott County and northern Macoupin County or through northern Greene County and central Macoupin County on its way to Pana and east into Indiana.
Meetings are scheduled Thursday for Winchester and Carrollton. The Winchester meeting will be from 8-11 a.m. in the Nimrod Funk Building at the Scott County Fairgrounds. The Carrollton meeting will be 4-7 p.m. at the Carrollton Knights of Columbus Hall one mile south of Carrollton.
Another meeting will take place from 8 to 11 a.m. Friday at the American Legion Post 152 in Pittsfield.
Project developer Mark Lawlor said Clean Line Energy, the group behind Grain Belt Express, “feels these projects are important. They are needed to help in giving aiding our country to get the energy mix and infrastructure we need.”
Lawlor said there is a compensation package that pays fair market value for the land and a per-tower stipend for landowners to gain rights-of-way for the towers and line.
The interstate transmission line would have the capacity to carry 3,500 megawatts of electricity. Lawlor explains the line would offer wholesale energy at a competitive price and the project will use wind energy from proposed wind farms in Kansas. A converter station is proposed in Clark County, although the county has not shown support for the station. A second regional converter station would provide power to the grid near Ralls, Missouri.
Clean Line Energy Partners is a private company out of Houston, Texas.
Lawlor said the company will apply for public utility status as part of the process.
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