Farmers protested Tuesday afternoon over concerns that Invenergy Transmission LLC is disrupting rural farmers with its proposed Tiger Connector line.

The line is slated to be built in Audrain, Callaway and Monroe counties.

Grain Belt Express Tiger Connector line

The proposed Grain Belt Express Tiger Connector line would run through multiple mid-Missouri counties/

Invenergy said the transmission line will provide the equivalent energy of two nuclear power plants and save Missourians an estimated $4.6 billion.

Patrick Whitty, the senior vice president at Invenergy, says the Grain Belt Express opens important opportunities for Missouri.

"Grain Belt Express enables the ability to tap into some of the lowest cost energy sources in the entire United States of America," Whitty said.

However, farmers still have their concerns. Specifically, farmers are concerned about the use of eminent domain.

Eminent domain allows for private property to be used for public use after compensation for the land. For farmers, this means some farm land can be bought by Invenergy to run their transmission line. Under House bill 2005 which was signed into law in June, farmers must be compensated at 150% of land value.

Whitty said landowners will retain ownership of their land if the transmission line goes through it. The Tiger Connector will use a monopole design, which won't take up much land in the parcels that the transmission line cuts through.

"That footprint will take up less than 1% of the overall acreage in easement," Whitty said. "Land can continue to be farmed, grazed, used as it is today."

Farmers hold protest against the Grain Belt Express Tiger Connector transmission line

Missouri residents attended the protest outside the Public Service Commission in Jefferson City Tuesday.

However, for farmers who share their land with large power lines, the decision isn't that simple.

Cam Moore attended the protest to support local farmers. He said it's very hard to give up even a small part of land.

"It doesn't matter if they're paying 150%, 400% above market value for that land," Moore said. "They just don't want to have to deal with it."

That's not the only issue with paying 150% of market value. Roger Fischer, Callaway County's western district commissioner, attended the protest. He said measuring land across different states can leave certain farmers undercompensated.

"Eminent domain has nothing to do with the value of the property," Fischer said.

The second concern among farmers is that it's unclear where the energy from the line is coming from and who it's going to. One provision under HB 2005 says electrical corporations "must have a substation or converter station in Missouri that provides an amount of energy proportional to the length of their transmission line within the state."

Whitty said the energy is coming from southwest Kansas, which holds a large amount of solar and wind energy. However, farmers are also concerned over where the energy is going. Farmers claim Invenergy will not say who the customers will be.

However, Whitty said Invenergy does have energy recipients in Missouri.

"Grain Belt Express does have a customer," Whitty said. "It's a group of 39 municipal utilities, which are hometown communities in the state of Missouri."

The Missouri Farm Bureau, Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, Missouri Soybean Association, Missouri Corn Growers Association and Missouri Pork Association sent a joint letter to Invenergy, expressing their concerns.

Invenergy said it submitted its final proposed route for the Tiger Connector to the Missouri Public Service Commission for review and approval this month.

A detailed map of the line can be found on the Grain Belt Express's website.

This story was republished from KOMU.

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