Landowners’ Group To Meet in Pittsfield to Discuss Grain Belt Express Transmission Line

By Benjamin Cox on February 23, 2024 at 3:02pm

An area landowners group opposing the Grain Belt Express Transmission Line is getting together on Monday to work together and discuss court challenges to the transmission line.

A stay on the Illinois Commerce Commission’s certificate of public convenience and necessity, granting it the ability to be constructed, was lifted by the Illinois 5th District Appellate Court back in late September. The transmission line, owned by private company Invenergy, is set to cut through the middle of Pike, Scott, the northern portions of Greene and Macoupin as it makes its way to the Indiana border. The transmission line may use eminent domain in order to get the line constructed.

Pike Scott Farm Bureau Executive Director Jenna Morrow says it is being hosted at the Pike-Scott Farm Bureau building in Pittsfield, but it is not being sponsored by the farm bureau. Morrow says the local landowners group from Pike, Scott, Clark, and other counties all tend to be farm bureau members and the local farm bureau office is acting as a conduit of communication: “What citizens did a couple of years ago when they filed for their second go around here, they formed a landowners group and hired an attorney, Brian Kalb to represent them. They have taken Grain Belt to court, and there is also another landowners group in Central Illinois doing the same thing. This group is meeting on Monday for those who are already members and anyone else who still wants to join up or get information is welcome to attend. The attorney is going to provide updates, answer questions, give them some feedback on the court cases and how they are going.”

Morrow says the main concerns of the group is private property rights, especially on agricultural land, which she says will be disrupted if the transmission line is installed: “The concern a lot of landowners have is how it is negatively going to impact their farming practices, because you’ll be putting transmission lines and towers up, so then you’ll have to farm around them. You also have all of your aerial sprays that is being done by aircraft, which turns into a safety hazard as well as more costly to work around all of those transmission lines. Then, of course, as they do the construction that’s a concern any project that has to file an Agricultural Impact Mitigation Agreement does for farmers and the farm bureau. What the farm bureau will do is step in and make sure that any of the companies that are doing something like this that they follow the AIMA. Whatever they put down in writing in order to restore the property to its former condition, the farm bureau will step in and make sure that it happens.”

Morrow says that the Illinois Farm Bureau traditionally remains neutral on all utility projects and only acts as a resource of information, answering questions surrounding AIMA’s, valuation of property, and property rights.

The meeting will be held at the Pike-Scott Farm Bureau Office, located at 1301 East Washington in Pittsfield on Monday, February 26th at 10AM. Those who are unable to attend in person may contact the Farm Bureau office during business hours at 217-285-2233 and request a Zoom link to attend virtually.