On a recent Monday morning, Lucas Nelsen and I took a road trip to attend a transmission route planning meeting in Des Moines hosted by ITC Midwest, a transmission developer. Lucas hadn’t been through Iowa in about a decade, and I had never spent much time in the state.
We were surprised to see a constant flow of massive turbine blades being trucked down I-80. They moved gracefully down the interstate like massive whales in a sea of small vehicles. We were also blown away by the scale of the 193-turbine Rolling Hills wind farm in Adair, IA. Everywhere we looked we saw a spinning wind turbine.
Soon we arrived at the ITC meeting to discuss the proposed routing of the Minnesota-Iowa project. Two proposed segments of line were given extended airtime – a segment that will run north and east of Forest City, IA, and another segment that will run east of the Union Slough National Wildlife Refuge.
The primary concerns raised related to the safety of waterfowls and the desired expansion of pre-existing transmission easements to run alongside Wetland Reserve Program land. The meeting was great. It provided us with an opportunity to work with ITC and address public concerns.
The Des Moines trip was an excellent experience. From this short hop over the state line, we realized our efforts are making a difference. We are excited to continue working on these important issues.
Later this August, both Lucas and I should be concluding big research papers we’ve been working on. Lucas’ paper will discuss concerns landowners have related to transmission development. My paper will explore how to minimize the use of eminent domain when assembling land for transmission corridors.
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