NE Kansas group fighting power line developer

5/26/2013 1:45 PM
By Associated Press

MARYSVILLE, Kan. (AP) — A group of northeast Kansas residents has banded together in a bid to keep a high-voltage power line system away from their farms.

The so-called Grain Belt Express would transmit about 3,500 megawatts of electricity along 600 kilovolt lines from wind farms in southwest Kansas to Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. The developer, Clean Line, said the line would then join with others to carry the power farther east.

The group started a petition at Change.org, arguing Kansas should keep its wind energy in the state instead of selling it across state lines. The petition also argues that Clean Line should be required to bury its lines and route them through public rights of way.

Clean Line, which estimates the line and new wind farms to supply it will create about 5,000 construction jobs and 500 long-term operations jobs, has three possible routes for the line through northern Kansas and has to select its preferred route by June to present to the Kansas Corporation Commission for approval, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported (http://bit.ly/10VVRtW).

Construction won't start until at least 2016, said Mark Lawlor, director of development for the Grain Belt Express. He said selling energy outside the state is like exporting wheat and cattle, and said it's unclear if a line like the one proposed could be buried. He said buried lines also cost more and are more prone to overheating.

Farmers who live near the line's proposed route also say they're also concerned that additional power lines would limit their ability to work their land.

Richard Strathman, who has raises dairy heifers, worries the electricity from the lines will disturb the cows, causing them to give less milk.

"This thing has the potential to put me out of business," he said.

John Broxterman, who raises beef cattle and grain, said the lines could also prevent aerial spraying of pesticides and insecticides, possibly reducing yields.

Lawlor said direct current lines don't give off stray voltage like some other types of lines, so neither people nor livestock will be in danger. He acknowledged the lines will affect farm operations, but said they won't necessarily preclude aerial spraying.

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Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, http://www.cjonline.com


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