VALORIE EVERSOLE - Daily Union Reporter
SHELBYVILLE, IL. —
The Illinois Agriculture Association is taking a neutral stand on the proposed power transmission lines that may pass through the northern part of the county.
Shelby County Farm Bureau director Amy Rochkes presented information she has gathered regarding the Ameren Transmission Company’s Illinois Rivers Project to the County Board Wednesday morning. The project proposes construction of a new 345 kilovolt line that will interconnect Missouri, Illinois and Indiana – a total of 330 miles.
The project routes from a new substation near Palmyra, Missouri, crossing the Mississippi River to Quincy and continuing east across Illinois to Meredosia, Pawnee, Pana, Mt. Zion, and Kansas and finally to Sugar Creek, Indiana. Single 80-100 foot poles will carry three sets of wires across the land.
“My family near Pana has farmed around H-towers for years. It’s no big deal,” Rochkes told the board.
The preferred plan does not include crossing the county, but the alternate plan does include the northern part of Shelby County between Routes 51 and 128.
Rochkes noted that there have been hundreds of petitions to intervene filed and with each petition, the petitioner must propose an alternate route.
“The ICC (Illinois Commerce Commission) is not going to accept the reason ‘not in my backyard’,” Rochkes said. “We may be in a holding pattern. We don’t know wht the ICC is going to do. It’s ultimately their decision.”
The Illinois Farm Bureau has filed a petition to intervene based on the impact of the project on production agriculture and general routing issues that impact landowners and farmers such as following section and property lines, existing right-of-ways or easements.
“We don’t want them to dice and slice up prime farmland,” Rochkes said.
Aside from crossing farmland, Rochkes pointed out the benefits of the project:
- The project will facilitate the delivery of renewable energy, improve local reliability benefits, local area voltage support, and provide economic and efficiency benefits
- Creation of 2,300-5,500 construction jobs
- Consumers will see economic benefits range from 1.8 to 2.8 times the cost of the project
- Consumers will pay only 9% of the total cost. The remaining costs are shared with the Midwest Independent System Operator, Inc.
- Ameren is required by statute to pay a one-time $20,000 per mile line fee to the county.
“We’re going to need that money for repairs to our farm to market roads. The heavy machinery will tear up those roads,” Rochkes said.
Board Chairman Bruce Cannon asked about the Clean Line project that would also like to come through the county. That project will run from Kansas to the East Coast.
Rochkes answered that she understood the project is owned by two billionaires who are looking to make money.
“It does not hook on to local substations. There is no benefit to county. It will not help any Illinois residents,” she said.
The Farm Bureau will host an informational meeting February 28 at 6 p.m. at the Lions Club Building in Shelbyville.