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Utilities Board Hearing For Transmission Line Is Wednesday

August 20, 2013
by Dan Voigt , Emmetsburg News

A public hearing on a proposed electrical transmission line crossing Palo Alto County is set for this Wednesday in Emmetsburg. The Iowa Utilities Board will conduct a public informational hearing at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 21, in the auditorium at Iowa Lakes Community College.

The hearing is being held on a proposed 3,500 Megawatt Direct Current electrical transmission line that would run from O'Brien County eastward across Iowa to end in Grundy County, Illinois. The transmission line project, dubbed the Rock Island Clean Line, LLC, was first presented to Palo Alto County residents at an Open House held at the Wild Rose Casino and Resort in 2011.

At that time, the projected route of the transmission line was envisioned across the southern edge of the county, or possibly the northern edge of Pocahontas County.

In January of 2013, the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution of support for the transmission line project, which has been approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

In June of this year, however, residents living in the southern sections of Silver Lake, Great Oak, Nevada and Fern Valley Townships, along with residents in the northern edge of northeastern West Bend Township, received notification of a preferred route for the transmission line.

The proposed transmission line would entail a right-of-way corridor roughly 200' wide which will run 24.4 miles across the county.

A public informational meeting to present information on how to object to the project was conducted in late July in Ayrshire. The meeting presented information on the Utilities Board hearing process, as well as steps and procedures.

Wednesday's hearing is one of the final steps in the process of the project, as the Iowa Utilities Board will hear comments from the public on the proposed project, as well as receive objections to the project.

Once the hearing is concluded, the Utilities Board will review information on the proposed project and will determine whether or not to grant a franchise to the Rock Island Clean Line, LLC, and its parent company, Clean Line Energy.

To obtain the franchise, Rock Island Clean Line must present evidence that the proposed transmission line is necessary for public use and that it has a reasonable interest to an overall paly for the transmission of electricity in the public interest.

Once the public hearing has been conducted, Rock Island Clean Line may begin negotiations to purchase easements for the construction, operation and maintenance of the transmission line.

But, if Rock Island Clean Line is unable to reach agreements with landowners for easements, it may request Eminent Domain authority from the Iowa Utilities Board.

The Iowa Utilities Board would then hear those Eminent Domain requests. To obtain the right of Eminent Domain, Rock Island Clean Line would have to show that property was needed to serve the public use.

If a request for Eminent Domain is made, a public hearing on that request would be scheduled.

A similar meeting was conducted last fall for a transmission line upgrade project by MidAmerican Energy across the northern portion of the county, where MidAmerican is partnering with Cornbelt Power cooperative to replace an aging high voltage AC?transmission line with an upgraded single steel pole transmission line to replace old wooden double pole structures.



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