I am writing as a landowning-Farm Bureau member, a community leader, and a parent. Like many farmers, I believe the Grain Belt Express Clean Line will provide an economic boost to northern Missouri, while saving small towns across our state millions in lower electricity rates. As a supporter of the project, I’m concerned that details about the project are being twisted to meet the needs of those in opposition of the transmission line.
My husband and I discussed with Clean Line the possibility of moving the line less than half a mile so it would be on our property. The easement payment of 110% of fair market value while still being able to use the land under the transmission line was very appealing and would help make ends meet in a time when cattle prices are down and profit margins are razor thin in row crop production. As many landowners did when electricity first made its way across the countryside, this is an opportunity to provide a modern energy source to for the future of our families, communities, and state.
This project is in the public interest because it will save ratepayers money on their electric bills and provide much needed stimulus to local economies. Clean Line has shown the need for the project by signing up Missouri customers. One such customer, the Missouri Joint Municipal Electric Utility Commission, is expecting to save their 340,000 customers more than $10 million annually through their contract with Grain Belt Express. Missouri will benefit from the Grain Belt Express through tax revenue and employment. With an estimated $7.2 million in revenue for the affected counties in year one and over 1,500 jobs, this project is most certainly going to be good for Missouri.
Rural Missouri is seeing many changes and our methods must change to meet the many challenges we will continue to face. In 1870, there were 19,136 people living in Chariton County. The estimated population in 2013 was 7,628. Even in the last two decades we have seen student enrollment drop and per-pupil state aid following suit. Based on these trends alone, I can see it will be difficult to continue to meet the needs of area residents in the same way as county government has in the past with fewer taxpayers paying the bills.
We must do something to support economic development in this area for working families to be able to afford to live here, raise their children, etc. The Grain Belt Express Clean Line can ease the burden for rural communities, landowners, and provide jobs for Missourians.
Andrea Rice, Salisbury