CUSHING — The giant maps spread out across several conference tables might have attracted the most attention, but area residents who came out this week had more pressing concerns: How would a planned transmission line affect their property?
The federal Energy Department hosted the public forum in Cushing on Tuesday evening as part of a series of 12 meetings for landowners along a proposed 700-mile high-voltage, direct-current transmission line that would take electricity from the Oklahoma Panhandle to north of Memphis, Tenn.
Houston-based Clean Line Energy Partners LLC plans to have its Plains and Eastern Clean Line project in operation by the end of 2017. The company has narrowed the project to two potential routes — each about one-mile wide — where right of way easements would be required for the transmission towers and lines. The easements would be between 150 feet and 200 feet wide.
Stan and Ann Moffat, who own 320 acres about halfway between Stillwater and Perkins, said they aren't interested in another infrastructure project that would affect their land. The Moffat family has held the farmland since 1960.
“We already have four utilities across our property, and a fifth, rural water, is fixing to go clear across it,” Stan Moffat said. “And now they're wanting to go across with a 200-foot right of way, which is 12½ acres in a half-mile.”
Clean Line's $2 billion project is privately funded, but the company is asking the Energy Department to participate under a 2005 law that promotes new transmission projects. That would allow Clean Line to use the government's power of eminent domain as a last resort if it can't work out easement arrangements with landowners.
The Cushing meeting was part of the Energy Department's public “scoping process” to decide what it needs to focus on in an upcoming environmental review of the project.
“We want to know what is important to your community,” said Jane Summerson, with the Energy Department's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy office. “What we're going to decide is basically twofold: whether to participate and, if so, how to participate, in this Clean Line project.”
Kay Pearson, who lives south of Stillwater, said she came to the meeting to learn more about the project and study the maps. She found out her family's property is within the one-mile route of proposed easements for the project. Pearson, who used to work in health care, said she was concerned with some of the health effects.
“I'm concerned about some of the issues related with cancer and children,” Pearson said. “Leukemia is one of the concerns when you're too close to electromagnetic fields. I went out and looked up some studies. They said that was AC power versus DC power, but I'll have to check that out.”