PANA – A round of public meetings over the next week in Pana, Nokomis, Strasburg, Greenup and several other Central Illinois towns will introduce the proposed route for the Grain Belt Express electricity transmission line.
The $2 billion project’s developers, Clean Line Energy Partners, has filed a request to build the overhead line that will stretch 780 miles through Pike, Scott, Greene, Macoupin, Montgomery, Christian, Shelby, Cumberland and Clark counties. The state’s power system regulators, the Illinois Commerce Commission, is expected to say yes or no to the line by November at the latest.
The line will bring yet-to-be-built wind-generated power from Kansas to tap into the electricity grid in Indiana. Texas-based Clean Line Energy already has held one round of meetings to introduce the project and gather feedback. It says the path of the proposed line, plus one alternate route, was influenced by concerns raised by the 3,100 people who came to those meetings.
“Going forward, we’re committed to continuing that productive dialogue with landowners and other stakeholders throughout the project area,” said Mark Lawlor, director of development for Clean Line Energy.
Several people aren’t waiting to continue the dialogue. A public comment section on the ICC website features criticisms ranging from not wanting power lines crossing private property and farmland to concerns the project isn’t necessary and could be used by less clean energy sources.
“I highly oppose Grain Belt Express energy line. This will destroy people’s lives and their property,” wrote one commentator.
Clean Line Energy says while its line could be used to move power from other sources, it makes no sense to build a coal-fired power station in sparsely populated Kansas. It also says the line offers wholesale electricity savings by bringing more power to market when it fires up around 2019.
The company also points out that landowners will be compensated and it’s tried hard to find the most agreeable route. “We’ve spent a lot of time gathering feedback from the public and doing research,” said Amy Kurt, a manager for Clean Line Energy. “ We’ve tried to minimize impact across the project.”
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