The Kansas Corporation Commission Public Hearing regarding the Grain Belt Express Clean Line LLC application to request permission to build a new direct current high capacity transmission line near the Spearville 345 kilovolt substation in Ford County, Kansas, north and east to the Kansas/Missouri border, was held in the Student Union Conference Room at NCK Tech in Beloit last evening.
The Grain Belt Express Clean Line is an approximately 750-mile overhead, direct current transmission line that will deliver wind energy from western Kansas to utilities and customers in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and states farther east. Similar to the trains that carry grain harvested in the Midwest to markets, the Grain Belt Express Clean Line will move wind energy from its source in the grain belt of the country to markets with strong demand for low-cost, clean power. The Grain Belt Express Clean Line will deliver enough renewable energy to power 1.4 million homes per year.
Clean Line has developed the transmission line route in a way that attempts to minimize impacts to land use and natural and cultural resources. They have sought public input from landowners, agencies, organizations and community leaders to guide in the routing process. The proposed route can be viewed in detail at www.grainbeltexpresscleanline.com. Said proposed route will cross Osborne, Mitchell, Cloud and Washington counties in the KVSV listening area. Grain Belt Express must receive KCC approval as to the reasonableness of the proposed route. Should the Commission grant approval for the project, Clean Line will begin surveying, environmental permitting and signing up customers for capacity on the transmission line. Construction will take two to three years and could begin as soon as 2016. Clean Line is committed to using qualified local businesses to assist in constructing the transmission line. The Grain Belt Express Clean Line is expected to begin delivering electricity as early as 2018.
Last night's meeting began with an informal walk through of the various stages of the project. From 4 til 6 pm, members of the public could view detailed maps of the proposed route and assess impact to their land and/or homes. Kansas Landowner Compensation Fact Sheets provided an overview of the compensation Clean Line is offering to landowners. For the direct current (DC) line, Clean Line will use an easement that is approximately 150-200 feet wide for the specific purpose of constructing, operating, and maintaining the transmission line. Landowners will be able to continue farming the land within the easement. Land within the easement taken out of production by the transmission structure foundations will typically comprise less than one percent of the easement.
At 6 pm, the Kansas Corporation Commission commenced the Public Hearing of Grain Belt Express Clean Line, LLC. The Student Union Conference Room was overflowing with members of the public from all counties that will be affected, should the proposed transmission line route and application be approved by the KCC. During Part One of the Public Hearing, the informational session, representatives of KCC and Clean Line Energy made short presentations regarding the siting application. Members of the public had the opportunity to ask questions following said statements. Following a brief break, Part Two of the Public Hearing commenced with approximately 15 members of the public making statements to the Commissioners, said statements being recorded by a court reporter as part of the official record of the KCC Public Hearing. Positive statements to the benefits of the transmission line were made. Particularly passionate statements made by area landowners regarding the affect of the transmission line, not only to current land, livestock, and family farms...but to future generations of families, future migratory patterns of wildlife, disruption of scenic areas, and future land values...were met with applause from the crowd in the over capacity room.
The Commission will accept written and oral comments from the public through August 28, 2013. Comments regarding the transmission siting application should reference Docket No. 13-GBEE-803-MIS and be sent to the Kansas Corporation Commission, Office of the Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, 1500 SW Arrowhead Road, Topeka, Kansas 66604-4027. Comments may also be submitted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 1-800-662-0027. Public comments received during the public comment period will be entered into the record in the docket. By submitting comments to the Commission, you are authorizing the Commission to make your comments and any included information publicly available.
A Technical Hearing is scheduled for October 8-10, 2013, beginning at 9:00 am at the Kansas Corporation Commission, First Floor Hearing Room, 1500 SW Arrowhead Road, Topeka, Kansas. A complete copy of the Grain Belt Express application and supporting testimony is available on the Commission's website at: www.kcc.ks.gov, searching Docket Filings for Docket No. 13-GBEE-803-MIS.
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