Landowners speak out against proposed Mega-Watt Transmission line

powerlines

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MARSHALL AND NEMAHA COUNTIES, KS — A Proposed project is gathering some negative attention from several North-Eastern Kansas Counties. The project– a mega watt transmission line to deliver clean energy to Eastern states.
Grain Belt Express Clean Line Energy would deliver power to an estimated 1.4 million homes. But several residents of Nemaha and Marshall counties say it isn’t the idea they oppose, it is how close the lines are to their homes and land.
“We are very angry. We knew nothing about it,” said Richard Strathman.

Richard Strathman is a farmer and livestock producer in Marshall County.

He says a proposed transmission line project to the Kansas Corporation Commission would go directly through his land.

“We think it is going to be very intrusive to our operation, it is going to affect our livestock, we are afraid of the electric magnetic field that comes off of the power lines or as they call static electricity, but it is still stray voltage,” said Strathman.

Strathman says if this project is given the green light, it could be bad for his business.

“If it affects our livestock in an adverse way, it affects our profits. These things are going to take up land out of our production,” said Strathman.

The proposed Grain Belt Express will start in Ford County and go straight through Cloud, Washington, Marshall, Nemaha, and Brown Counties.
It would deliver 3,500 megawatts of electricity from Western Kansas to several eastern states.

Stephanie Wurtz has young children and lives less than a mile from where a tower could be built.

“We’ve heard that it can lead to cancer in kids and in adults. And of course we want to keep our kids as healthy as we can,” said Wurtz.

She argues that there just has not been enough research on how the high voltage could actually affect the area.

“We feel like our biggest resource in this area is our people, our livestock and our land and we want to protect those things,” said Wurtz.

There will be a public hearing Monday, August 12, on the Grain Belt Express project. Community members can ask Clean Line Energy Company members questions about the line from 4-6 at the Community Center in Seneca, a public hearing follows at 6 P.M.

If you can’t make it to the public hearing, you can also submit written comments until August 28th:

Written comments should reference Docket No. 13-GBEE-803-MIS, e-mail the Kansas Corporation Commission Office of Public Affairs and Consumer Protection at public.affairs@kcc.ks.gov. You may also call 1-800-662-0027.

Or you may submit your comments by mail to:

Office of Public Affairs and Consumer Protection

Kansas Corporation Commission

1500 S.W. Arrowhead Road

Topeka, KS 66604

The Kansas Corporation Commission has released this statement about the project:

“In 2011, the Commission granted Grain Belt Express a certificate of public convenience and necessity, limiting the rights under the certificate to Transmission only. The certificate allows Grain Belt Express to transact the business of a public utility in the state (again limited to Transmission purposes). Obtaining a certificate of public convenience is the first step in the process of becoming authorized to acquire property under Kansas’s eminent domain laws.

The second step requires the company to obtain Commission approval of the siting application. Kansas law requires electric utilities seeking to construct electric lines which exceed  five miles in length and which will be used for the bulk transfer of 230 kilovolts or more of electricity, to obtain a siting permit from the Corporation Commission.  In this case, Grain Belt Express filed their siting application on July 15, 2013. The Commission has 120 days to consider the application and issue a decision. As a part of this process, the Commission has scheduled four public hearings (public notice document and complete list of the hearings: http://kcc.ks.gov/pi/hearing_grain_belt_082213.pdf) and is accepting public comments through August 28, 2013.

The Commission is also scheduled to convene a technical hearing on October 8, 2013, and is expected to issue a decision on the siting application on or before November 12, 2013.  During deliberations, Commissioners will consider and determine if the project is necessary and whether the route is reasonable. If the permit is approved, Grain Belt will become authorized to exercise the right of eminent domain for the purposes of constructing the transmission line as approved by the Commission.

It is important to point out that the Commission does not have jurisdiction over individual eminent domain cases.  It is expected that Grain Belt Express will work with landowners to acquire the required easements on private property. However, if the parties are unable to reach agreement, the disputes will be resolved by the District Court.

963 people have contacted the KCC in opposition to the project and 29 people have contacted the KCC in support.” — Jesse Borjon, Public Affairs and Consumer Protection Director.

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