Audio: Grain Belt Express debate now in House Committee

Grain Belt Express

The public service commission has approved a high voltage, wind energy transmission line to run through private property along Northern Missouri, and *some* landowners and farmers want the legislature to stop that from happening.

Missouri House members heard both sides of the argument: That the lines are in public interest and the company can claim eminent domain OR the lines are intrusive and eminent domain is heavy-handed

Lawmakers heard from Carroll County Commissioner Bill Boelsen who says its time to modernize the grid.



But Todd Hayes, VP of the Missouri Farm Bureau says landowners and farmers need control of their land.



Rep. Jim Hansen of Frankford bill says simply: no private entity has the power of eminent domain for the purposes of constructing above ground merchant lines.

Landowners and business owners took opposing views on the bill Stephen Franke from Hannibal says with the Grain Belt the town would get energy a third cheaper than from the open market.



But landowner and farmer Marilyn O’Bannon says she will lose the use of farmland.



O’Bannon says she and her fellow 500-plus landowners have not been consulted by the company- which is now owned by Chicago-based Invenergy.  The Public Service Commission ruled that the landowners would have to be compensated for use of the land… and caps the amount of agricultural land used for each tower.

The bill by Jim Hansen would try to stop the Grain Belt transmission project before any towers go up.

Opposing the bill- and in support of the Grain Belt project: Jeff Berkstrom, General Manager of Marshall Municipal Utilities- serving about 13-thousand people – and says tapping into this power will save customer 700-thousand dollars a year.



But Mike Deering of the Missouri Cattleman’s Association says the issue is Grain Belt using the power of eminent domain.



In the meantime, the Public Service Commission’s ruling for the Grain Belt transmission will be appealed, according to opponents.