To the Editor:
Rock Island Clean Like (RICL) is proposing to build a high voltage DC power line through 375 miles of prime Iowa farmland. As many of you know their plans are well under way, as they have had the required informational meetings and can now talk to landowners about signing easements. I have been to many of their meetings. One thing I have noticed is their willingness to mislead the public.
First let's take a look at the meaning of the word conscience. The faulty, power or inward principle which decides as to the character of one's own actions, and condemning that which is wrong, and approving and promoting that which is right.
So how is RICL misleading the public? Let's start with their name. "Rock Island" is a reference to the old railroad. It turned out to be too expensive to use the old rail right of way. So now they have started saying the line is like a "farm to market road" just like the railroad was. Not true! The rail brought goods back to the state. Our highways are two way as well, and used by all. It can only be used by RICL. They are only exporting our wind! "Clean" is reference to the use of wind power instead of fossil fuel generation. By Rock Island's admission the line won't carry just wind energy. At this time they don't have any agreements to supply wind energy. When the wind doesn't blow they will look to fossil fuel generated sources to supply the line. Most likely that power will come from the grid we are currently on. That could cause our rate to go up due to the added demand.
A couple years back they held some meetings across the state to get feedback from landowners and others affected. This was their attempt to work with landowners and be transparent. They put ads in the papers inviting tens of thousands of us. Only about 2000 attended. Most invitations went to landowners on a previous route. Not the present one proposed. RICL has "flown under the radar". Most landowners had never heard of RICL before last summer. Instead of talking face to face with landowners they garnered support with local government and economic development people.
They say there is no effect on property value. With their only source being "in our experience". Not believable! Some sources say a minimum of 15% and as high as 35% decrease in value. Rock Island says they are creating about 5,500 jobs. Of which 5,000 are temporary, and 500 are permanent. When questioned, they admitted that 10 are permanent for the line, and the rest are for wind farms, which have nothing to do with RICL. Also the economic benefits they tout to the counties don't factor in expenses. The county will have added maintenance to the roads during construction. The farmer will have many expenses such as lost income and income potential.
One thing rang true through them all of the informational meetings. They answered few questions with a straight answer. Many answers were vague. Often they would defer to answer until after the meeting, in a one on one situation. They would say they didn't have the answer but would find out. I'm still waiting! Everything at their meetings was set in a positive light. I know there are pro's and con's to everything. Yet they could not name one negative thing about their line. There are unintended consequences to RICL!
Is this a company we really want in Iowa? I was brought up with good Christian values. So I contend that RICL does not have a conscience! Do unto others as you would have done unto you! Think about it RICL! If you had been straight forward with the public perhaps, you would be in a less contentious position right now.
(signed) Steve Licht