Wind turbines and transmission lines dominated the conversation last week when a Missouri state senator visited the Clinton County Commissioners.
Missouri 12th District State Senator Dan Hegeman came to the courthouse Thursday, December 22, to give the commission a general update on the state of Jefferson City and to field any feedback or concern the commissioners might have.
These meetings often go unnoticed, but for those frustrated in Clinton County’s ongoing showdown with NextEra Energy – the company building wind turbines in nearby DeKalb County – it was an opportunity to make their voices heard. NextEra previously proposed to build turbines in Clinton County, too, but the Clinton County Planning and Zoning Commission – after a lengthy series of hearings in which they heard evidence regarding such operations – voted last summer to ban large-scale wind energy conversion systems. NextEra has since filed suit against the county.
Second District Larry King opened the topic shortly into Thursday’s meeting.
“This part of the country has become a dumping ground for NextEra and Grain Belt,” King said, the latter being a proposed transmission line that would carry energy through Clinton County on its way to points east. King went on to say that Jefferson City doesn’t seem to care about the situation, that wind opponents feel isolated, and that they need help from the legislature. Several other speakers echoed those thoughts Thursday.
Resident Lori Colvin invited the state senator to see the view from her deck, stating that she can count 36 blinking red lights from her Clinton County property. She fears property values will plummet even though those turbines are in DeKalb County. She said technology exists that would limit those lights until they’re needed by aircraft.
It was also mentioned by someone in attendance that Missouri could benefit from a state-wide siting board. At one point, Hegeman asked the crowd if NextEra was listening to their concerns, which drew a collective laugh.
Sen. Hegeman said Thursday that he has communities in his district (which includes parts of Clay County and stretches upward and outward from Clinton County, including two counties bordering Nebraska and six bordering Iowa) who welcome wind turbines, and he must take those opinions into consideration, too. Sen. Hegeman also said he believes that this should be a local issue, mentioning the use of planning and zoning.
Doug Lowe of Trimble was on hand to speak to Sen. Hegeman about possible Right to Work legislation in Missouri. Lowe spoke against any such legislation, stating it lowers the quality of life for workers and results in less tax revenues, among other things.
Sen. Hegeman later said he appreciates Lowe’s position, but he feels Missouri has lost economic opportunities because they are not a Right to Work state.
Second District Commissioner Larry King spoke against Right to Work, citing Missouri’s solid job creation in the past year.
“If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it,” King said. “I think Right to Work is a way to break it.”
Sen. Hegeman spoke briefly about several state issues. He spoke about transportation and the department’s funding. He said he expects a tort reform bill to come up in the future, and he voiced a deep concern for rural Missouri communities that are losing population.
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