The Ralls County Commission has rescinded, for a second time, permission for a controversial electric line to traverse over land in the county.
Commissioners Wiley Hibbard, Steven Whitaker and RC Harlow sent the Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC) a letter dated May 4 to “further clarify” the stance of the county against the Grain Belt Express – a proposed electric line carrying wind energy from Kansas through Missouri to states further east.
The commission sent a similar letter on March 24, 2014 – before Hibbard took office.
Hibbard said he “wanted to make sure that there was no doubt” that the government of Ralls County would not allow construction of the Grain Belt Express.
“The citizens of Ralls County are adamantly opposed to the power line,” Hibbard said.
Certain terminology changed between the March 24, 2014 letter and the May 4 letter. The March 24, 2014 letter contained language that, according to Hibbard, suggested the commission would reconsider approval of the project if the PSC granted Clean Line Energy – the company behind Grain Belt Express – public utility status.
Hibbard said commissioners wanted to close the door on that nation.
“It (March 24, 2014 letter) could have been read in an ambiguous way,” he continued.
Hibbard said the citizens of Ralls County oppose the project for a variety of reasons, citing eminent domain issues, health concerns and the ownership of Clean Line Energy. County assessor Tom Ruhl, who favors the project, estimated 100 people vocally oppose the project out of 10,000 people in the county who remain silent on the issue.
Initially, the commission gave its OK for the project in August 2012. It approved a resolution titled “Right of Way Access Agreement” and entered into an agreement with Clean Line in a document titled “Intergovernmental Agreement Transmission Line Installation & Repair.”
Ralls County is one of five Missouri counties in the path of Grain Belt Express that has rescinded or denied approval for its construction.
The PSC is expected to make a decision on the Grain Belt Express by the end of summer.
Clean Line President Michael Skelly told the Courier-Post that if the PSC denies public utility status, the company will work to correct any issues and resubmit an application.
The company has the necessary permits in Kansas and Indiana, but not yet in Missouri or Illinois.
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