Grain Belt meetings start up again this week; opposition group to get together this weekend

By Gary Scott on May 2, 2015 at 12:28pm

More meetings for information on a potential new power line are coming to Illinois starting this week.

Officials with the Grain Belt Express Clean Line are holding a series of events in the first two weeks of May at locations where the power line could potentially come through if the Illinois Commerce Commission approves the route.

The Grain Belt line will run wind power from Kansas to Indiana. The proposed route carries it through Scott and Greene Counties, while an alternate route skips Scott but still bisects Greene.

Project manager Amy Kurt says officials will be available to answer questions and provide information to landowners at the meetings, including more specifics on the compensation being offered to landowners in exchange for easements.

“We’re offering landowners a payment in exchange for placing a transmission structure on their property. There are three different types of structures that we’re considering across the project area in Illinois,” she says.

“The landowner can choose if they’d like to receive a one-time payment for that structure or  an annual payment for that structure. If the landowner chooses that they would like to receive annual payment, those payments can continue on for the lifetime of the project, and they actually escalate each year by two percent,” Kurt continues.

She says the most common structures that will be used will have a single foundation that she says leaves a six-to-eight-foot-wide footprint. The annual payment option for that is $500, while the one-time option is $6,000.

Kurt says in addition to structure payments, Kurt says landowners will also receive a payment for the actual easement area.

“That is the acreage on their land that we will be leasing from them to host the transmission line. We’re offering landowners 100 percent of the fair-market value for that land. But, the landowner actually will continue to own that land and will continue to be able to farm that land just as they had before,” she says.

Kurt adds that in exchange for hosting the power line, Clean Line Energy Partners is offering Illinois counties $7,000 per mile of the line for the first 20 years of the project.

“That will help benefit public services throughout the region,” she says.

“We’re also required in the first year of the project to pay counties $20,000 per mile of the line, and when you add up those two payments- the $20,000 one-time payment per mile and the $7,000 payment over the 20 years of the project, it comes out to about $33 million for the Illinois counties that will be hosting the Grain Belt Express Clean Line,” Kurt continues.

There will be an informational meeting in White Hall on Wednesday, May 13th, from 4 to 7 p.m at the VFW building on West Lincoln Street. You can view the full list of meetings here.

The “Block Grain Belt Express” opposition group is meeting Sunday at 2 p.m. at Manchester First Baptist Church.