The Missouri Public Service Commission wrapped up their final public testimony hearings regarding the Grain Belt Express Clean Line project yesterday.  Click to hear KMZU’s Kristie Cross speak with Grain Belt Express Clean Line Director of Development Mark Lawlor:

Mark Lawlor

Click to hear opponent Donald Daviess:

Donald Davies

A large portion of those testifying stood in opposition to the development.  One of the primary concerns raised was the probable decrease in property values.  Lawlor said he doesn’t believe landowners have need to worry about this issue.  “There’s a lot of transmission in and around the country, in fact pretty much every county and state has transmission lines,” said Lawlor, “You need to only just go look at examples to see that transmission lines have minimal to no impact on property value,” said Lawlor, “Landowners who will have the easements on their property will be compensated, as well.  We really broke the mold on how this is typically done in the industry by paying significantly more than what you’ve seen in the past for the easement.  We have also developed a structure payment.  So, for each structure on a property, you can take the option to have that in a larger upfront payment or spread out on an annual basis that’s paid for as long as the line is there.”

Lawlor also talked about how the entire state stands to benefit from the development. “The Grain Belt Express Clean Line is a transmission line that will allow us to get access to low-cost, renewable energy,” said Lawlor, “It’s really important because, as we move to a greener economy and we have in this state a renewable energy standard that requires us to get to 15% renewables, we need to do so in a cost-effective way.  So, that this allows us to do is to meet both goals.  We can get more clean energy and do it in a cost-effective way.  In the meantime, we will also be creating a tremendous amount of economic activity through jobs and manufacturing here in Missouri that will benefit and then, in the long term, we will see property tax revenue to all the counties where the project is located.”

Several were livestock producers who spoke about how they had worked over the course of their lifetime to purchase their land and build cattle operations.  They testified how great of a negative impact, in their opinion, this project would have on their business. One of many concerns that continued to be voiced was that of the health risks associated with the line.  Lawlor  said he believes the public has been misinformed on this topic. “We have a lot of information on our website that directs people to studies that have been conducted by independent organizations,” said Lawlor,” For example, World Health Organization  has looked at this in depth.  As you can imagine, this has been looked at a lot over the decades around the world and the overwhelming consensus is that there are no known health impacts of electric and magnetic fields.  So, it’s something that’s difficult and complex and it’s hard to understand all the time, but if you take a look at existing lines and, you know, we sit, live, and work around electric fields all the time without an impact to our health and this is really no different.”

An hearing on the matter is scheduled for mid-November and a decision is expected to come in 2015.  KMZU’s earlier story regarding the opposition to the project can be found here.  For more information, please visit the Grain Belt Express website or the opposition’s website.