Barton County property owners enjoyed their first-hand look Tuesday at proposed routes by the Grain Belt Express Clean Line, a $2 billion 700-mile high-voltage direct current transmission line that will cross through Pawnee and Barton counties.
The line is projected to deliver 3,500 megawatts of wind power from Kansas wind turbines to Missouri and Illinois. Potential routes were displayed at Tuesday’s meeting. Landowners within a 3-mile wide planning corridor were invited.
Property owners receive compensation for usage of their land, but most say anytime they lose usage of land, they are concerned.
Kevin Mauler has double power poles on a property nine miles west of Great Bend. Another property that might be affected is two miles from Albert.
“One proposal shows the lines would cross our property adjacent to the existing lines,” Mauler said. “It would take a wider strip out.”
Mauler said he would prefer the transmission lines not cross his property, but acknowledges they would have to be placed somewhere in northern and western Barton County.
“They prefer to run them where they already have the right-of-way,” Mauler said. “No one wants it in their back yard or next to their house. Most people aren’t worried about the money for their land. We advise them where ponds and structures are on our properties. They want to understand if livestock or families are affected. They have it pretty well laid out. We appreciate them coming out explaining where it might run.”
Karen Neuforth serves on the Barton County’s Community Development Advisory Board, which advises the Board of County Commissioners of Barton County. She’s also a property owner whose land might be affected by nearby power transmission lines.
“The board promotes economic development and the project will bring in money,” she said.
Neuforth’s property southwest of Heiser is already crossed by a high voltage and another transmission line. She came away equipped with more knowledge about the project.
“I already have lines crossing the property, but I want to know more about it,” she said. “They’ve been able to provide a lot of details.”
Mark Lawlor, Clean Line Energy project development, met more than 150 people during Tuesday’s meeting at the Elks Lodge. More than 200 people attended a meeting in Dodge City Monday.
Lawlor said preliminary surveys have helped surveyors select optimum routing around a particular 3-mile area. He said Clean Line Energy personnel received considerable training to gain knowledge about the project and answer questions.
“The more people here, the better because it allows us to gather information for the ultimate route that is selected,” Lawlor said. “We were able to confirm a lot of information. We received a lot of personal information. We were able to talk one-on-one. We put a lot of time and effort into these meetings.”
Lawlor said landowners want the transmission lines to not affect their land usage and be out of the way. He said Clean Line Energy employees will decipher the information and look at feedback for each route and apply that to their routing criteria for minimum impact on the land. He said routes attempt to avoid homes, structures, water and environmental impact.
“We get a lot of input. There are environmental concerns we must avoid. We will get down to a preferred route,” Lawlor said. “Barton County is one of those spots with a convergence where we will be in the county.”
The current route will travel north and east from western Kansas and avoid metro areas and the Flinthills. Possible routes are scheduled may also pass through Hodgeman, Edwards, Rush, Russell, Ellsworth, Ford, Lincoln, Mitchell, Cloud and Ottawa counties.
The proposed Barton County routes run west and north of Great Bend, one between 50th and 60th Ave.; and one between 120th and 130th Ave. One Pawnee County route passes through the western half of the county by Rozel and Burdett and another runs north of U.S. 56/156.
The website (http://www.cleanlineenergy.com) features additional information.
Meetings are scheduled Wednesday at 7 a.m. at Russell’s Elks Lodge and 5 p.m. at Osborne. Beloit and Lincoln meetings are scheduled Thursday.
The proposed Kansas line route would be submitted in 2013 to the Kansas Corporation Commission. Construction could start in 2015 with operation targeted for 2018.
Clean Line plans to privately finance the development and construction and will sell transmission capacity to renewable energy generators in Kansas and to utility customers in Missouri and Illinois and states farther east. Utility companies will be charged a tariff on the transmission line.
Job opportunities will be available for transmission construction and maintenance, geotechnical engineering, surveying, restoration services, aggregate and concrete, trucking and fueling, clearing and grading, seeding and topsoil, and construction equipment rental. Clean Line Energy is committed to using qualified local labor, contractors, and service providers when possible. The wind turbines they will transfer the power from the transmission lines are not currently in operation.