PITTSFIELD, Ill. — Two Pike County Board committees heard more Wednesday about a proposed memorandum of understanding with Grain Belt Express.
Grain Belt Express is developing an approximately 750-mile overhead, direct current transmission line that would originate near Dodge City, Kan., and cross through Northeast Missouri and West-Central Illinois in an effort to connect low-cost wind generation resources in western Kansas with energy demand centers to the east. The Illinois route has not been finalized, but Pike and Calhoun counties are in project’s Illinois study area as likely entry points from Missouri.
Rick Cornell with Grain Belt Express sat down with the county’s Ag and Finance committees to outline the project and the agreement.
No votes were taken or decisions made, but “it’s a situation where we at least started a dialogue,” Pike County Board Chairman Andy Borrowman said. “We did explain to him we thought we’d be willing to work with the company.”
State’s Attorney Carrie Boyd plans to contact the project’s legal team to clarify some issues and possibly make changes in the agreement providing details of voluntary payments by Grain Belt, not to exceed $7,000 per linear mile each year, which will begin when the project is commissioned for commercial service and last for 20 years.
“Sometime in the next month or two we will more than likely have a question before the board on whether they’re willing to sign an agreement, depending on what we hear from the state’s attorney and her recommendation,” Borrowman said.
Other questions raised targeted provisions made for demolition if after 20 years the line is no longer used, impact on county-maintained roads and easement compensation for farmers and landowners.
Farmland easements typically amount to $4,000 for each acre directly affected, but “some fair market value for farmland especially in the western part of the county are up closer to $10,000 to $11,000 per acre,” Borrowman said.
“There’s a lot of issues that are going to surround this project,” said Blake Roderick, executive director of the Pike and Scott County Farm Bureaus, who attended the committee meeting. “Farm Bureau has been supportive of the renewable energy projects. Direct current is a good way to move that across the country, but we’ve got to be concerned with the rights of our landowners and their ability to continue to farm and make sure that they have the best information and representation as this project goes forward.”
Clean Line Energy Partners LLC, which is developing the Grain Belt Express project, hopes to have final project approval by 2015, with construction starting in 2016 and the transmission line put in service as early as 2018. The project has been approved in Indiana and Kansas but not yet in Missouri or Illinois.
Full story originally published here.
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