Over 150 residents from four counties gathered in Ayrshire last week to become better informed about the proposed electrical transmission lines proposed by Rock Island Clean Lines.
The meeting was called for all land owners, tenants and other persons with any interest in real estate, potentially affected by and who are either opposed to or concerned about the electrical transmission lines across Iowa proposed by Rock Island Clean Lines LLC.
Throughout the evening, the group learned about the legal process necessary for the electric transmission lines to be installed across the state and where they can go to obtain additional information and view a map of the project.
At the conclusion of the night, area residents were given the opportunity to join an alliance in stopping Rock Island Clean Lines from constructing electrical transmission lines through the state of Iowa.
"Some of the things I've been hearing about why people wanted a meeting include,?'I got a letter' and that was what spurred a lot of us on," said Carolyn Sheridan, chair of the meeting. "I also heard: I want to know what I can do; I want the facts; I'm concerned about my land, my acreage, my family; I'm concerned about my house; I'm worried about my property values; this changes how I farm; I've heard we can't do anything; I've heard it's a done deal."
Sheridan walked the group through information on Rock Island Clean Lines. "I went to their website so that we would get the facts," she said. "Rock Island Clean Lines (RICL) develops high voltage long haul transmission lines to connect renewable energy resources in North America to communities and cities that lack access to new, low cost renewable power.
"Rock Island Clean Lines will develop and deliver 3,500 megawatts of power from Northwest Iowa and the surrounding region to communities in Illinois and other states to the east. There is a strong demand for clean, reliable energy. Energy that will be transported via approximately 500 mile overhead high voltage direct current AC DC transmission lines."
Farm Bureau has a web page with information about all of the transmission line projects, not just Clean Line. The information is provided by county. The page also explains the Iowa process.
Sheridan asked the questions:?How many acres of land? What about our property value? What about our farms??What about eminent domain? What about all the acreages, timber, groves, wildlife, rivers, streams, families, future generations and our landscapes?
"This overall plan does not demonstrate transmitting electricity in the public interest," she said, "You need to know your rights. You have a right to the facts. You have the right to file an objection. You have the right to attend and testify at a public hearing. You have the right to an attorney and you have the right to file a large group objection."
Residents attending the meeting were encouraged to talk to their county supervisors to get them to rescind their resolution of support; talk to their legislators; attend meetings and stay informed. They were also invited to form an alliance.
Justin LaVan and Mark Truesdell, attorneys with Beving, Swanson &?Forrest P.C., attended the meeting to outline the procedure and timeline RICL must follow.
"They have to go to the Iowa Utilities Board for permission to build this transmission line," said LaVan. "Anyone who wants to oppose building this line must focus on the determination by the Iowa Utilities Board."
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is involved because it's an interstate facility.
Midwest Independent System Operator (MISO) is not a governmental body, but it will play a role in the process, said LaVan.
Many of the area residents attending last week's meeting received a letter from Rock Island Clean Lines. LaVan said RICL is required to conduct one informational meeting in each county where the lines will cross. An officer from the Iowa Utilities Board will preside at that meeting.
Clay and O'Brien meetings are Aug. 20; Palo Alto and Emmet meetings are Aug. 21.
"The meeting provides the opportunity for the public to ask questions and to get factual information," said LaVan. "Aug. 20 meetings are in Hartley and Spencer; Aug. 21 meetings are in Emmetsburg and Algona; Aug. 22 meetings are in Britt and Belmond. That's six of 16 counties. The other ten county meetings have not yet been set."
LaVan asked, "Is this line necessary to serve the public use??This line is different - it's a horse of a different color - it's going to be a DC (direct current) line. It doesn't intend to put electrons into the grid to benefit Northwest Iowa." He added that there will be tax revenue for each county.
Residents questioned the possibility of expanding the capacity of existing lines; or putting the lines on existing right-of-way.
The Preservation of Rural Iowa Alliance is the product of Thursday's meeting. A non profit, articles of incorporation were filed already last week.
A Board of Directors was elected Thursday and the second board meeting will be held today with action including establishing a website and news letter and establishing permanent contact information.
"We will communicate at a high level," said Carolyn Sheridan, chair of the alliance. "We will be looking to collaborate with anyone in the 16 counties along the proposed route. We want to include everyone, communicate with everyone at the meeting and with those who could not attend."
Officers of the alliance are Carolyn Sheridan, chair; Paul Swanson, treasurer; Cindy Kassel, secretary; Diane Darr, Steve Licht, Dave Weber, Cindy Koenig and Jerry Crew.
Temporary contact number is 712-262-5229.