Letter to the Editor:
Grain Belt Express continues to be an issue of concern. Early on, Clean Line and the Grain Belt Express were denied permission to construct power poles carrying High-voltage lines across the state of Missouri. After being told NO, a company known as INVENERGY picked up the project, but with deeper pockets. Knowing they would not be granted permission to construct, plans to divert power into the Missouri Power Infrastructure were proposed in hopes the Public Service Commission (PSC) would grant them Public Utility Status, which unfortunately, the PSC did grant INVENERGY, a for profit private organization, utility status.
With this authority and status granted by the PSC, INVENERGY is aggressively pushing for construction against the desires of Missouri residents and the several County Commissions who represent those residents. Revised Statutes of Missouri 229.100, as made effective August 1939, expressly prohibits the erection of poles or lay conduits and such items associated to power lines or wires without first gaining the assent of the County Commission unless permissions granted by the PSC for Utility Status supersedes this.
In past statements and discussions with representatives of Grain Belt Express and INVENERGY, the use of “eminent domain” or “condemnation proceedings” were not promoted or expressed as a means by which to obtain lands to construct. Within the last month, residents in Caldwell County and nearby counties have received notices from INVENERGY compelling them to engage in discussions to acquire their lands by condemnation hearings if no response is given within 60 days. Further representatives of INVENERGY have stated that “We have the permits, the project is going to happen,” and further declared that eminent domain and condemnation of property has been regularly used, and though not desired, will be used.
The 2021 Missouri Legislative Session ended with several items of business and bills not being seen or voted upon. Of these unfinished items, H.B. 527 (which passed the House considerably) and S.B. 508 were left without a vote. As soon as these bills were left unvoted on, Missouri residents started receiving these condemnation letters aforementioned. Is this just coincidence?
Certainly this is not how Missourians conduct business. Our property rights and rights of ownership are worth more. Further, this project, which would subjugate Missouri residences to authorities who have no desire to benefit Missourians may negatively impact our power infrastructure, and will certainly increase costs to power utilities for residents and businesses.
Missouri residents should let their state representatives know this is not acceptable. Local authority and power of County Commissions should not be usurped and the power to preserve our property rights against outside entities is a basic human right.
East Associate Commissioner
Caldwell County Commission