Preserve stability of reliable Iowa energy

The Gazette Opinion Staff
Published: March 26 2014 | 11:01 am - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 10:03 am in

By Steve Licht

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The Preservation of Rural Iowa Alliance was formed to stop the proposed Rock Island Clean Line (RICL). Using Iowa farmland for this line (to deliver wind-generated electricity to Illinois) is immoral. There are other “rights of way” that can be used, such as railroad beds, highway corridors and existing electric line paths. One of the things the Iowa Utilities Board rules on is whether or not RICL serves a public use. It’s hard to say that it would.

Is there any greater “public use” of farmland than to produce food for the world? The term public use, by Iowa Code, can be in or out of state. For the utilities board to grant a franchise to RICL is saying that a public use by RICL is more important than farmers. I say Iowa farmers have “tenure.”

The Preservation of Rural Iowa Alliance is not against green energy.

The very first letter that landowners received from RICL mentioned eminent domain. Companies such Mid American and ITC are working to bring a more responsible source of wind power to their customers. They are doing so by upgrading existing rights of way, with little use of eminent domain.

As wind energy becomes more prevalent, it is going to be more and more difficult to keep the grids stable. Everyone should be concerned about the unintended consequences related to the RICL. There is a balance within our electrical infrastructure between many energy sources. Projects such as this threaten the stability of reliable energy, and need to be researched to understand the impacts.

Clean Line is misleading the public, from the very name of the company, to jobs, property value loss, economic benefits, health effects, and the list goes on.

If RICL would show a wind map of water areas, you would see that there is tremendous wind over the Great lakes and off the East Coast.

I was at many of their public meetings, and they were very vague in their answers to the public. They have been working on a local and state governments to gain support as early as four years ago, before the landowners even knew about their project. This is not the kind of company we want in Iowa!

The Preservation of Rural Iowa Alliance has worked very hard to be a trusted resource for people to become well-informed. Every Iowan has rights. To know them is hard, though.

The process for these projects are complex. A project of this size by a private company has never been done in Iowa before. If RICL is granted a franchise, there will be more lines like this one proposed. It may be your land the next.

Tell your local leaders, and county supervisors not to support companies such as this. Urge your legislators to support bills that would make it harder for a private company to use eminent domain. Inform the Iowa Utilities Board why you object to RICL in Iowa.

Join with us to fight for your rights. Visit www.iowastopricl.com.

Steve Licht farms near Ayrshire in Northwest Iowa and is vice president of The Preservation Of Rural Iowa Alliance. He farms three tracts of land potentially affected by the proposed Rock Island Clean Line project. Comments: lichtst4@ncn.net

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