The next series of public meeting for the Grain Belt Express Transmission Line is coming to the area beginning on Tuesday.
Representatives from Invenergy, the owners of the clean energy transmission line, will be at the Pike County Senior Center in Pittsfield on Tuesday from 5-7PM. Scott County landowners will be encouraged to attend a similar meeting at the Nimrod Funk Building in Winchester from 5-7PM on Thursday.
Pike-Scott Farm Bureau Executive Director Blake Roderick says after their first set of meetings through the 8 counties which the utility line will pass, the company has proposed an alternate route that would trek the line on a more southerly route that will now take it south of Pittsfield and possibly through Greene County, into northern Macoupin County heading east towards the Indiana border.
Roderick says that this new alternate route is problematic: “The third route is basically the route they had in 2015. Then, they had that first alternate route which is going south. That alternate route would cross the Illinois River and go into Greene County. The preferred route crosses the Illinois River and goes into the far southern part of Scott County. The third alternate route is in Pike. They did something following their first meeting and for whatever reason they did, they decided that they wanted to add that route. It impacts much more farm ground than the other routes did when they added that new alternate route onto it. We don’t know why they did it.”
Roderick says until Invenergy files the plans with the Illinois Commerce Commission, people won’t know which of the routes will be chosen as the trek of the transmission line.
Roderick is concerned with the state government allowing a private, non-utility company asserting eminent domain powers over privately owned property: “We don’t like the process that they are going through to do this, particularly the state government giving this private company, outside of normal law that Illinois follows, giving them the right to take private property. We do not like that one bit. We don’t like it on normal occasions, and we really don’t like it on this occasion.”
Roderick says that the Pike-Scott Farm Bureau has held their own meetings with members and encouraged them to seek private counsel on all property easement issues that may arise with Invenergy. He encourages any landowner not to come to any verbal agreements and make sure everything appears in writing. For now, Roderick says the Farm Bureau is in a holding pattern until the paperwork is finalized with the Illinois Commerce Commission before an official stance is made about the entirety of the project.