CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WCIA) — The Grain Belt Express is an interstate power line planned for construction in the southern part of the WCIA viewing area. Its developers are meeting with affected land owners this week from Pike County on the west to Clark County on the east.

The Grain Belt Express originates in Kansas Wind Farms and carries electricity to a major power station on the east side of the Wabash River in southern Indiana, said Brad Pnazek of Invenergy.

“Kansas is an area were wind is abundant and produced at a fairly affordable price, Pnazek said. “The goal of the project here is to take that affordably produced energy in Kansas and transmit it here to other markets in the country dropping off in Missouri, Illinois and Indiana.”

He and others are meeting with land owners before seeking state approval for construction.

“We’re starting off our stakeholder engagement campaign. We’re holding 27 different meetings over the next three months, three in each of the nine counties that Grain Belt Express is crossing here in Illinois,” Pnazek said. “And those are all things we are looking to have done here before we go to the Illinois Commerce Commission to submit our application for the project.”

The proposal is not new. It’s been around for a number of years. But Pnazek said his company stepped in to complete the project that had bogged down from opposition in Missouri.

“Invenergy purchased the project here a couple years ago and we’re going to be moving the project forward from this point on,” Pnazek said. “So the ICC is familiar with this project. They’ve seen it kind of before, but not under Invenergy’s purview.”

The project is not yet at the point of seeking eminent domain authority.

“Eminent Domain is something of a last resort used here,” Pnazek said. “In Kansas and Missouri to date, Invenergy has signed up about 65% of the affected parcels on a voluntary basis, and those are the approach that we’d be taking here as well as we progress the project through Illinois.”

One of the affected property owners is Steve Simpson who owns family land near Casey.

“Not really in favor of it,” Simpson said. “I live close enough to power lines now and I’ve been around them and I know the sounds they put off and I know that you don’t want any structures in and around them because of the energy they put off. So I’m really not in favor of this crossing my property at all.”

Stu Ellis

We’ll have more about this on our weekend show, Midwest Ag This Week.