Palo Alto pulls support for Clean Lines project
EMMETSBURG – While admitting that any gesture they made would have little effect, the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors rescinded a January resolution of support on Aug. 27 for the Rock Island Clean Line transmission project on a 3-2 vote..
An attempt to rescind the resolution earlier this summer failed when the motion failed to gain a second.
Steve Licht and Kathy Merrill, whose lands will be affected by the proposed transmission line, described the public attitude for the project “was fairly negative.”
However, Licht said, “I’d hope that you would rescind this today.
“The $7,000 per mile (revenue boost), that happens whether you support it or not, so that’s not the issue.”
“I don’t think anything we do will make any difference, anyway,” said Supervisor Jerry Hofstad.
“It might not,” Licht said, “but the Iowa Utilities Board will see that 16 counties supported it, and I would hope that we could at least be neutral on it. I’m not asking you to condemn it, just show no support.”
Hofstad noted that after the line was completed, landowners would be able to farm the easements, and would receive $500 a year for their inconvenience.
“You’re also getting 90 percent of the land value, too,” said Ron Graettinger, board chairman.
“The costs associated with this, we may have to pay more for spraying, lose a little bit for compaction,” Licht said. “In 40 to 50 years, that little amount of money just isn’t worth it.
“We’re going to lose some property value that may never come back for acreages.”
Supervisor Ed Noonan moved to rescind the resolution of support, supervisors Hofstad and Graettinger vote against the measure while Wirtz, Solberg and Noonan voted for it.
“I don’t think anything we do here is going to stop this,” Solberg said.
“I agree,” Hofstad added.
“I think we’re supposed to represent the people out there that we’re elected to represent,” Noonan said.
Licht told supervisors that Cedar County has already withdrawn support for the project.
“Is Clay County neutral?” supervisor Linus Solberg asked.
“They have supported it in the past, but they are having a meeting to reconsider it on Sept. 3,” Licht answered.
“To say that we just have to farm around the poles, that’s not totally true,” said Merrill. “When the corn is high enough and you get bugs in it and can’t get machinery over it to spray, the last couple of years we’ve used airplanes to spray and you can’t do that with a power line” nearby.
Merrill said she also was troubled by the possibility that eminent domain could be used to get the needed rights-of-way for the project.
“I know they want to build a power line across Iowa,” Merrill said. “But if you were building a wind turbine on your property, you’d have a say if you want it or not and you also get paid for that. And, it’s your decision.
“We’ve been farming for generations and I think there are health issues, and its very close to our main farm where everything is,” Merrill said. “We are small businesses in Iowa that will have to change our practices and have land basically taken that’s not for sale.
“I don’t care how much they pay – I don’t want a power line.”
Merrill suggested if other landowners wanted the line that the company should negotiate with them instead.
“Eminent domain gives you no choice,” Merrill said.
“I had questions if the taxes paid to the county could go to people who had land taken by this project,” Wirtz said.
“I talked with (county assessor) Lois Naig and she said there will be no effect on property values from this,” Noonan said.