CENTER, Mo. (WGEM) – Several northeast Missouri landowners are concerned about the possibility of harnessing the power of a significant domain to obtain easements for the Grain Belt Express.
The Grain Belt Express project is a multi-state power line for renewable energy. Construction plans show it runs through farmland near Center, Missouri.
Local landowners and leaders said if it is to happen they should have to negotiate directly with landowners instead of using a significant domain and paying them a fixed price for easements.
Scott Hodges, a farmer in Ralls County, said the easements they offer on several miles of land he farms just isn’t worth it.
“For what they offer and to have to try and work around all of these poles and given the relief of lifelong property that we’ve spent our lives on,” said Hodges.
He said he feared the towers would be taller than other power poles in the area and that his GPS systems could affect his combine.
“Another problem is application from the air. Airplanes have to fly around them,” said Hodges. “When you put a line through the middle of [a field] this eliminates any chance of ever having pivot irrigation. “
John Lake, western district commissioner, said Hodges was not alone in his concerns.
“The biggest problem is a significant domain taking over the farm for private gain, and we don’t want that at all,” he said.
Local lawmakers said they are putting these concerns into practice.
District 40th Republican representative Chad Perkins said he was once again co-sponsoring a bill to change significant domain privileges to prevent the company from using them for the project.
“We gave mostly bipartisan support,” said Perkins. “And you know, [we] Expect some Senate successes this year, sit down at the governor’s desk and have him sign this fall. “
Grain Belt Express officials said on their website that while they are a regulated public utility that gives them the right to a significant domain, they are “required to enter into voluntarily negotiated agreements.”
But Hodges said he feels there is another way to build the power line if they really want it.
“Instead of just coming here and saying what they’re going to do, maybe come in and say what we’d like to do,” he said.
While work on the line has not yet started, the company behind the Grain Belt Express is offering to offer landowner payments of $ 35 million to complete the project.
According to Invenergy Transmission, the project will move up to 4,000 megawatts of energy from Kansas to Iowa, save Missouri utilities nearly $ 13 million and create 1,500 jobs over the three-year construction period.