An agreement that would give Rock Island County $62,000 each year for the next 20 years takes a pause after the board approves tabling an agreement with the Rock Island Clean Line to hear from opposed landowners.
The Rock Island Clean Line is a transmission line project intended to connect wind farms in Iowa to energy customers in Chicago and points east.
It would build the power line through northern Rock Island County, and is offering to pay landowners for the right to have access to their property for as long as the line exists.
Many landowners along the line, though, are saying, "No, thank you."
"The principle of it, and the use and the merit, I just don't think it's there," says farmer Brent Riewerts.
He opposes the Clean Line Project in two ways. First, there's the inconvenience to his farming operation. It's difficult to farm around objects like power poles.
"Out of ten fields that we have this is the last one that we don't have pipelines, power lines, going through, fiber optics, and you start getting to the point where how much is enough."
His biggest concern though, the basis of the project in the first place. "You just want to say is this a necessary project and I think some people need to ask some harder questions of these projects that are being brought forth," says Riewerts.
Rock Island County will not give any sort of approval to the project. It will only agree to have Clean Line pay it to cross nine miles of county land. The actual approval for the transmission project rests with the state of Illinois. A hearing is scheduled to begin in December. Board member Christine Filbert says the county still owes it to the opposition to hear them out. "I think it's only fair to the constituents of district one who are the farmers and the landowners to have the opportunity to speak to either the finance or committee or the board as a whole," says Filbert.
She asked for the board to table the issue for one month to give the opposition a chance to be formally heard. She says it's only fair.
"If we listened to the Clean Line, who is not a constituent of the county of Rock Island, then it's very unfair not to give the constituents their opportunity to speak as well."
Reiwerts says he'll do his best to voice his opposition to the state at its hearing.
As long as he can get out of his farm field to do so.
The Clean Line company has finished providing its documentation to the Illinois Commerce Commission.
The state is now accepting written testimony from members of the public.