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Letters to the Editor

Taxpayers and landowners will be the big losers

“Bridge to nowhere” is being used in reference to the 500-mile-long direct-current transmission line the private company Rock Island Clean Line proposes across Iowa and Illinois prime farmland.

The phrase refers to the fear RICL will get this power line erected at the rate of $4 million a mile only to find it has no western “clean energy” to transmit, or no market to sell expensive electricity to on the eastern end.

Some say, No big deal. It just means venture capitalists, a Texas billionaire and three billionaire brothers from Park Avenue, New York City, made a poor investment choice and have to suffer the economic consequences.

We taxpayers and landowners will be the big losers. If RICL succeeds at the Illinois Commerce Commission and gets public utility status they’re requesting through docket 12-0560, RICL will have a right-of-way contract saying there’s an easement 200-feet wide through fields for perpetuity. It won’t matter whether RICL goes under; they’d still own rights of way across Illinois and Iowa forever and could rent or resell for other power lines or pipelines. That farmland would be unavailable for development forever.

For advocates of clean energy, that also means no wind turbines could be erected on those 12,000 acres of easement. It would take out 24,000 acres as 200-foot power poles need 200-foot clearance on each side in case they ever fell over.

The land’s value would be depreciated forever, forcing tax rates to go up for the counties’ loss of revenue. Land productivity would suffer as aerial spraying, irrigation, weed control, compaction, and drainage would be compromised.

As world population grows, placing a larger demand on food producers, can we afford to remove fertile land from production for a private company’s folly? Visit www.BlockRICL.com and learn more about this issue that affects all of us.

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