JEFFERSON CITY – Missouri residents spoke out about the potential of having their property taken for power line projects like the Grain Belt Express during a recent House hearing.
House Bill 1062 was proposed by Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Frankford, and states that private entities shall not have the power of eminent domain, meaning that Hansen’s proposed bill could prohibit private electric companies from obtaining the private property they need to build power lines.
“This is an issue outside of what our legislative body should be handling, but it’s up to us to protect Missouri citizen’s personal property rights,” Hansen said.
These personal property rights refer to projects like the Grain Belt Express. The 780-mile long transmission line would carry wind energy from western Kansas and through Missouri, to customers in Indiana. It was developed by Texas-based company Clean Line Energy LLC and sold to Invenergy LLC, a Chicago-based company, in November 2018. The $2.3 billion project was finally approved by the Missouri Public Service Commission in March 2019 after being rejected twice.
“Do we allow private companies, private investors from all over the United States to determine how our property is used for any particular project that covers several miles of privately owned farm land in our state?” Hansen said.
Invenergy testified in opposition of the bill. Nicole Luckey, director of regulatory Affairs for Invenergy LLC, said that despite what many believe, building more power lines would benefit Missouri citizens.
“This line will benefit the state of Missouri by increasing the state’s revenue, and helping save money on monthly electricity bills,” Luckey said.
Luckey stated that 39 cities that have built the power lines have collectively saved $12.8 million. Residents who have power lines running through their property would be fairly compensated and counties would get a tax benefit, she said.
Rep. Chuck Basye, R-Rocheport, questioned whether residents from rural areas would actually be fine with power lines running through their cities and farmland. As a Missouri native himself, he feels that this is the “exact opposite” of what residents would want.
“Regardless of compensation, I know that residents would be opposed to having their land used by a private company,” Basye said.
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