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December 6, 2019

10/11/2019 11:29:00 AM
Beware of signing easements

Dear Editor:
The CHC Transmission Line was Approved over Calls for Recusals
Fifteen years ago, a group of Midwestern transmission companies had the idea for an independent entity to oversee the flow of electricity on the power grid. Their vision forever changed the way the energy industry operates. MISO (Midwest Independent System Operators) consolidated energy production and transmission to be controlled by only one entity in the entire 15-state region plus part of Canada. (Information from MISO web site). MISO's coordinating owner is Manitoba Hydro.
This consolidation, in many people's minds, is considered a monopoly and local citizens are being taken advantage of. With this amount of control MISO has a lot of leverage and their interests are not in reducing rates for electric customers but in making profits for their investors. There was overwhelming disapproval of the MISO-sponsored CHC line at the Wisconsin hearings in June but the line was approved by the commissioners who are also considered stakeholders in MISO.
Two of the commissioners have ties to MISO interests. We (and our grandchildren) will be paying for the CHC for 40 years while the MISO investors reap 11% profits each year. Unfortunately, well before 40 years is up transmission lines will be antiquated technology!
It is MISO's job to provide access to reliable delivery of energy to its members and their customers.
MISO member/owners are many and include companies you may be familiar with such as MidAmerican, ITC, ATC, Invenergy, Nextera, Alliant, and many, many more. These are the companies that build transmission lines and generating plants including wind and solar farms.
Many have some foreign ownership. The customers of these member/owners are your local utility companies such as TIP REC, Alliant, Scenic Rivers, etc.
Today MISO controls nearly singlehandedly the energy in portions of 15 states in the Midwest and the South, extending from Michigan and Indiana to Montana and Manitoba, Canada to the southern extremes of Louisiana and Mississippi. MISO also manages more than 65,800 miles of transmission lines that carry the energy. Finally, MISO operates energy markets, clearing billions of dollars each month. MISO controls all our energy flow by operating a transmission system and a centrally dispatched market. MISO generates between $2.1 billion and $3.1 billion in annual income for its' investors from the profits it makes selling electricity and transmitting it to your local coop or energy company.
MISO has a lot of power to control rates and restrict energy flows to our region. Powerful stakeholders listed on MISO's web page include: The Iowa Office of Consumer Advocate, AG Office, The Wisconsin Public Utilities Board, Clean Grid Alliance, Clean Wisconsin, Environmental Law & Policy Center, Energy Storage Association, Fresh Energy, Great Plains Institute, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Southern Wind Energy Association, Sustainable FERC Project, Union of Concerned Scientists. Interesting enough, the Iowa Utilities Board and the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin are both listed as stakeholders and also function as state regulatory authorities!
Numerous intervenors, fearful of rising utility rates, environmental damage, and unwise spending if the CHC Transmission Line were to proceed, intervened in June in the case to stop the CHC.
An alternative was laid out that would allow us to retain local control at 1/10th the cost. Public support was phenomenal but the Public Service Commissioners, who are also stakeholders in MISO, voted to approve the line. The case is being appealed by the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation and the Environmental Law and Policy Center among others.
However, if you are one of the unlucky people hosting a transmission line, wind turbine, or solar "farm" representatives of the MISO Member/Owners may be showing up at your home shortly if they have not already. If you live near a wind turbine they may come to your home and want you to sign the "Good Neighbor Agreement." WATCH AND READ WHAT YOU
SIGN! You may be giving up a lot more than you think for very little compensation and the loss of your rights forever. Most likely the representative will be extremely friendly and want you to believe they are just "one of you". They may show up on a holiday. They may be wearing a sweatshirt advertising the local football team and even have their dog along. DON'T GET TAKEN OFF GUARD! They are called Land Acquisition Agents. They will have an "easement" that they will want you to sign while they are there. They may give you significant extra money if you sign right away. DO NOT BE TEMPTED! THESE ARE PROFESSIONAL HUCKSTERS! You will often get significantly more money by refusing the first offer and hiring an attorney and probably also an appraiser. You will need a "before and after" appraisal so you will know the amount you should be paid for. Having transmission lines or turbines near your home or property will influence the value of your whole property forever...not just the acres the structure is placed on. You will be well-served by hiring professionals to help you get the most from the damages caused by the company.
Linda Grice

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