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Missouri landowners concerned about plans to move forward with wind energy company


A day after Hannibal City Council approved moving forward with Clean Line, a company that promises low-cost wind energy to the Midwest, some northeast Missouri residents are concerned about the proposed plan and wonder if the company can deliver on its promise.

As Jay O'Bannon looks around his farm, he worries about the future for the close to one dozen properties his family owns in northeast Missouri. The Grain Belt Express, a proposed wind energy transmission line, is set to run right through most of O'Bannon's properties in Monroe and Ralls counties.

"The poles are going to be extremely high, over 100 feet tall, and going to change the landscape," O'Bannon said. 

The company Clean Line Energy Partners is promising low-rate energy to local customers. Tuesday night, the City of Hannibal decided to move forward with talks with the company. Hannibal hasn't signed on yet, but Clean Line officials say they've already signed on more than 30 cities statewide, including Palmyra and Monroe City.

"They estimated that they will save their customers $10 million a year because this power is so much cheaper than they can get today," Mark Lawlor, Director of Development with Clean Line, said.

But O'Bannon says the facts don't add up. Clean Line is not supplying the energy, it's simply delivering it. So how can they guarantee rates? 

Lawlor says it's about demand.

"That part is going to be the easy part, relatively speaking," Lawlor said. "The resources are there, the wind parties are waiting to go."

However, Lawlor company says the wind farms aren't even built yet. The energy suppliers are waiting on approval to build the transmission line, which was already denied twice by the Public Service Commission.

"There's just a lot of unknowns and speculations," O'Bannon said. "We asked a lot of questions, and there's things they can't answer." 

Clean Line is also filing to become a Missouri public utility, which would give them eminent domain over landowners. The company says it will only be a last resort. Officials go before the Public Service Commission again in August, hoping to get their application approved.

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