On Tuesday December 13 the Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC) held a public hearing at the Community Building in Cameron concerning the Grain Belt Express Clean Line Transmission Case.
According to PSC, “Grain Belt Express seeks a certificate of convenience and necessity to construct, own, operate and maintain a high voltage, direct current transmission line and associated facilities within Buchanan, Clinton, Caldwell, Carroll, Chariton, Randolph, Monroe and Ralls counties in Missouri as well as an associated converter station in Ralls County.”
The room in the community building was filled with over 300 concerned citizens, most of whom were wearing stickers, t-shirts and hats all with the words “Block Grain Belt Express”. The sentiment of most of those that stood up to testify before the commission seemed to echo those words loud and clear.
The main concerns of the testimony seemed to be: decrease in property values, health concerns relating to electrical lines on their property and the improper use of eminent domain to obtain landowners property.
Cloffman from Stewartsville testified, “Throughout my life I have come to realize, the more I learn the more there is to learn.” Urged the Public Service Commission and other witnesses to make decisions based not on emotion only, while encouraging everyone to “search out the facts,” saying, “facts do not cease to exist because we choose to ignore them.” Cloffman’s testimony spoke out against Grain Belt Express.
Former Missouri Senator and Representative Glen Klippenstein and resident of DeKalb County spoke, “I am one of those that never ceases to be amazed by the amount of information that is brought about by a hearing like this. Only in local America do you get that and especially when you’re being attacked. In DeKalb County we are going through a world of hurt, our world has been turned upside down and our community is torn apart.” Klippenstein was speaking about the recent installation of wind turbines around the county. Moving on to speaking about the Grain Belt Express, he went on to say, “We have an obligation to each other to do what’s right. We do not have an obligation to do the bidding of wolves in sheeps clothing. Someone who makes promises, but often false promises and loves you when you yield, but threatens and intimidates and sues when you say no.”
Clinton County Commissioner Larry King summed up the feelings of most of the witnesses during his testimony when he said, “Just say no to Grain Belt Express.”
There were a few witnesses who spoke up in favor of the Grain Belt Express, including two from Overland Park, Kansas, who work for Par Electric, the electric company which will be involved in helping to install the electric lines of the Grain Belt Express should it be approved by the PSC. They echoed much of what has been in Clean Line Energy Partner’s press releases, speaking about the contributions to the local economies as the electric lines are being installed, the contribution to the communities in the form of landowner payments and the long-term benefits of property taxes and cost savings to the municipalities that will receive electricity from the line.
Kevin Butner of Yankee, business owner spoke out in favor of the Grain Belt Express saying, “We are in favor of new business and new opportunities that come to Northwest Missouri. We have not seen any tremendous economic progress in this area in the last several decades.” He went on to say, “I fear the next economic downturn will continue the trends here, with fewer people choosing to not make North Missouri their home because of a lack of opportunity. Today less than five percent of Missouri’s population calls North Missouri their home. I understand this project is unwanted by the vocal majority, but it is obvious to me it is for the greater good.”
All of the witnesses were cordial polite and despite the serious and passionate nature of the hearing, and humor echoed through the building throughout the proceedings, including from the PSC commissioners themselves.
During the hearings, the PSC only asked questions and were not able to answer any questions that might have been posed to them.
The PSC was to hold another public hearing in Faucett on Tuesday evening and has public hearings in Polo and Carrollton on Wednesday, December 14. Formal evidentiary hearings will in the case are scheduled on March 20-24, 2017.