Iowa landowners worry about impact of controversial transmission line project

Iowa landowners worry about impact of controversial transmission line project

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Cardinal-Hickory Creek power line Iowa

Iowa dairy farmer Michael Deutmeyer fears the Cardinal-Hickory Creek project would harm the market value of his seven acres in the transmission line's path near Luxemburg. He intends to share his concerns at a December hearing of the Iowa Utilities Board, which is tasked with reviewing the project.

LUXEMBURG, Iowa — Some Iowa landowners are worried about sharing their property against their will with a proposed 345-kilovolt transmission line.

The $500 million Cardinal-Hickory Creek project line would run about 100 miles from Dubuque County, Iowa, to Dane County.

It is a joint undertaking of American Transmission Co., ITC Midwest and Dairyland Power Cooperative.

The Iowa portion would run about 14.25 miles through Dubuque and Clayton counties.

The Wisconsin Public Service Commission granted its final approval for the line Sept. 26.

The new line would improve reliability, reduce power grid congestion and promote growth of renewable power, project organizers have said. Opponents have said it will deliver little renewable energy, damage conservation areas and result in minimal customer savings.

Project organizers have obtained voluntary easements on 45 of the 53 necessary Iowa properties and intend to use eminent domain on the remaining eight if landowner agreements aren’t reached.

ITC Midwest’s Rod Pritchard told the (Dubuque) Telegraph Herald the company is optimistic that it will secure the remaining easements and said ITC has a voluntary easement rate of 98%.

“Seeking eminent domain is a last resort for ITC,” he said.

Easements gained voluntarily would be 200 feet wide, while easements obtained through eminent domain would span 150 feet.

Some property owners who have not yet signed on were alarmed when the land acquisition representatives raised the issue of eminent domain.

“A normal person hasn’t dealt with this stuff before,” said Matt Goebel, a farmer who owns a parcel southeast of Millville, Iowa.

Goebel’s father, Joseph Goebel, who owns five parcels, said the line would interfere with his ability to aerially spray his crops. When a fungicide was inconsistently sprayed in the past, he said, his yields declined significantly.

“We are paying landowners for agricultural land as if we were buying the land,” Pritchard said. “They can continue their normal agricultural activities except in the area of the foundations of the (line) structures.”

Dairy farmer Michael Deutmeyer fears the line would harm the market value of his seven acres in the transmission line’s path near Luxemburg. He intends to share his concerns at a December hearing of the Iowa Utilities Board, which is tasked with reviewing the project.

“At the end of the day, it might not make a difference, but at least I’ll be able to sleep at night knowing I did what I could do,” Deutmeyer said.

The Cardinal-Hickory Creek project also requires the approval of federal utility regulators.

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