Final round of Grain Belt meetings set for today

By Gary Scott on March 5, 2015 at 7:21am

Officials with a group opposing a high-voltage power line are encouraging others who don’t want to see the project happen to attend meetings this week and next.

The Grain Belt Express Clean Energy Line would run wind power from Kansas to Indiana, with the line potentially going through Greene and Scott Counties. Officials with the project are holding the third of three meetings today in Winchester and Carrollton.

David Buckman is the president of the Block Grain Belt Express Illinois group. He’s encouraging residents to show up to today’s meetings.

“We hope that they’ll show up and ask detailed questions. It seems like when our folks go to these meetings- and we’ve had several people do this- they’ll get a different answer with different meetings,” claims Buckman.

“We’ve heard anything from temporary eminent domain, which there’s no such [thing]- to structures do not need any maintenance, various degrees of right-of-way, soil conditions won’t make that much difference.”

There’s also informational meetings with the Illinois Farm Bureau next Wednesday at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Carrollton at 10 a.m and at the Pike County Farm Bureau in Pittsfield at 3 p.m. Buckman explains what the focus of those meetings will be.

“It’ll be roughly the same thing except they’ll get down to more of what the power towers will take up space-wise, the 200-foot right-of-way, the limited amount of what you can do underneath of it as far as corn, beans, and pasture,” Buckman says.

“There won’t be anything allowed like a Christmas tree farm or a recreational type of thing under these lines.”

Buckman adds the Farm Bureau meetings will talk about soil compaction and weed control.

Buckman says his group is concerned that the land Clean Line Energy Partners acquires for right-of-way can be sold to anyone.

“Forty percent of funding is coming from the United Kingdom, so people are really upset that there’s foreign power money already in this,” he says. “And they do not have any say if they want to sell this to a pipeline company, an oil company, it can be done for a gas line. Basically, what you’ve got is a corridor.”

We reached out to Clean Line Energy Partners on Wednesday afternoon and did not get an immediate response. You can find out more information about the Clean Line project by visiting www.grainbeltexpresscleanline.com.

Today’s meetings being held by the power company are at the Nimrod Funk Building in Winchester from 8 to 11 a.m, and at the K of C Hall in Carrollton from 4 to 7 p.m.

Buckman believes the Grain Belt Express Line process is being rushed through, with this being the third series of meetings in three months. The Illinois Commerce Commission says Clean Line is operating under the expedited procedure state law passed in 2010.

A formal application to the ICC is expected after this month’s meetings.