It only makes sense.
The Golden Belt has long been the nation’s bread basket because of the ideal growing conditions for wheat and other grains. It also has another commodity that anyone who lives out year is well aware of – wind.
Just like supplying food for a hungry America, the region can also be a provider of new, clean, renewable energy. However, where as truck and trains haul the fruit of the Plains, infrastructure is needed to get the electricity where it needs to go.
Enter Clean Line Energy Partners based out of Houston, Texas. The company is developing four multi-billion-dollar power transmission lines. One of them, Grain Belt Express, will pass through Barton County.
The line will carry 3,500 megawatts from Ford County to Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and points farther east. The energy will be transported via an approximately 700-mile overhead, high-voltage direct current transmission line at a cost of about $2 million per mile, or about $2 billion.
It calls for between four and seven power poles per mile and the will stand about 100 feet each.
Company officials told the Barton County Commission Monday that in plotting possible routes, they were careful to avoid cities, airports and sensitive environmental areas, such as Cheyenne Bottoms. They are also working closely with all state and federal agencies that have a regulatory say in the matter.
The project should get approval by the end of 2014 and be completed by 2018.
Sure, the federal tax credit that helps subsidize the wind energy industry make be on the congressional chopping block, but Kansas and the Midwest stand in a great position to be pivotal players in the renewable energy market. This transmission line would put Barton County in the middle of this as well.
There are benefits to the county in the short term as well as down the road. As long as the project doesn’t damage important natural treasures and those impacted by the work are justly compensated, then this seems to be something worthy of our support.