Multi-value Project 3 - which will include an west-to-east stretch across Clay County just north of the U.S. Highway 18 line - is part of a four-project plan from MidAmerican Energy. The multiple projects involve replacing and expanding transmission systems in locations within Iowa, Missouri and Illinois.
Jeff Gust, vice president of MidAmerican Energy's compliance and standards department, outlined three benefits the project will provide: "Allowance for additional renewable energy transmission; improve congestion within the system; and a greater reliability benefit, hardening the grid."
Karl Donaubauer, senior engineer with MidAmerican Energy, told the gathering the project is about "keeping costs down and lights on."
The MVP 3 will begin on the west end of Sanborn, at the proposed O'Brien substation and stretch east 74 miles to Burt, before dropping south 46 miles to Fort Dodge, encompassing property in O'Brien, Clay, Palo Alto, Kossuth, Humboldt and Webster counties.
Siting and right-of-way rights will occupy the start of the project and will last until 2014. Construction is scheduled to begin in November 2014 and conclude in November 2016, with the transmission system operational by year-end 2016.
Donaubauer explained that all of the existing H-frame towers along the route - numbering approximately 800 - will be removed and replaced with 644 new steel poles, a ratio of about 3-to-2.
It was also noted the old poles required 100-feet of right-of-way, while the new poles will need 150-feet of right-of-way.
MidAmerican Energy Right-of-Way Department representative Dave Lane asked how each owner will receive a one-on-one meeting with a land agent to determine compensation for the use of their land. He explained a formula that varied based on usage of space with a pre-existing town, or land which would involve the establishment of a new tower site.
In addition to the right-of-way compensation, a $2,500 per pole will be paid to the landowner.
"If any of you are leaving here in the next few days to go south, please let us know," Lane requested. "We will meet with you immediately."
Lane added, "The main message is, we will compensate you for damages to property during the construction process."
Jim Sundemeier, with the Iowa Utilities Board, provided information to the audience regarding property owner rights, fair compensation and rules surrounding eminent domain.
"A company must obtain necessary rights from landowners, an easement," Sundemeier said. "... If the company can't get the easement, it can petition the Iowa Utilities Board for use of the land by eminent domain."
Sundemeier explained that under the eminent domain the company must show a need to serve the public use and a willingness to provide just compensation as determined by a Compensation Commission appointed by the county.
He also assured land owners the law provides the power to appeal throughout the process if suitable arrangements cannot be reached.
Immediately following the meeting, negotiations for right-of-way for land use could begin.
In December 2011, the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator Inc. board of directors unanimously approved the organization's transmission expansion plan for 2011. The plan is described as a "comprehensive long-term regional plan for the electric grid that will bring more than $2 billion in annual benefits to energy consumers throughout the Midwest." MidAmerican is assisting with the construction of four multi-value projects - or MVPs - included in the plan.
The right-of-way needs will increase from 100 feet per pole to 150 feet per pole.
The height of the new poles will range from 120 to 150 feet.
The span length between 345kV transmission poles will be approximately 1,000 to 1,100 feet. The span on the existing 161kV line poles is approximately 600 feet.