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GEUST COLUMN

By Staff | Dec 19, 2014

Iowans might ask the question, how will they lose if the Rock Island Clean Lines project gets approved by the Iowa Utilities Board?

Well, here are a few things that will affect the landowner and others bordering the project.

  • If eminent domain is granted to a private company to take land for its own use and economic gain, it is potentially cracking the door for others to come behind and do the same thing given they have enough political clout and financing to pull it off.
  • There have been studies conducted indicating that land values could drop in a range from 10 to 30 percent on the overall property value.
  • While it has been said that health is not impacted by the presence of a high voltage transmission line, many credible studies have been inconclusive which basically means they don’t really know for sure if your health can be affected.
  • There are concerns by many of the landowners about how this will impact their farming operations due to the height of the towers which affects aerial spraying and fertilizing as well as the access to the towers on the land for maintenance. A separate access is required and if you have a crop planted when they need to do their maintenance, you can kiss that goodbye.
  • Rock Island Clean Line is not listed in the 2012 Midwest Independent System Operator Multi Value project list as it has not undergone the conventional transmission planning process of MISO which is already established in the state, nor is asking for integration into this system but are proposing an entirely new corridor.
  • This transmission line is considered a commodity that can be sold on the open market to other investors which doesn’t guarantee that who we will deal with now is going to be the company that has to pay when damages are incurred to our crops and land in order to do construction or maintenance.

For my family, this line will travel through the north one-third of our farm not following a fence row, but smack dab through the field comprising nine acres of land.

The foundations are 50 feet in the ground to support the tallest towers which are 150 feet.

How will the construction impact the fertility of the soils along with our pattern tiling in and around the easement that will be compacted by heavy machinery and drill tailings?

Sadly, this system does not benefit the people of Iowa as the electrical power is being transmitted 375 miles across the state and into Illinois where it will be converted back to A/C power and distributed to eastern metropolitan cities.

No, this is a project that may appear to be for the common good, but it is going to financially benefit a small number of people in the grand scheme, while it injures the good people of Iowa in its wake.

Fortunately, a large number of landowners have understood the danger of supporting this venture and have expressed their objections to the Iowa Utilities Board who will rule on this sometime in the near future.

RICL has only been able to acquire 12.5 to 13 percent of the total number of easements in Iowa over the last 15 months that it needs to move the project forward.

Everyone needs to really understand the impact this is going to have not only on those of us in the corridor, but around it.

It is very important that landowners do not sign voluntary easement rights to Rock Island Clean Line.

Rick Gergesma is a farmer in Pleasant Valley Township, Grundy County.

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