Grain Belt Express faces opposition at historic Fort in SW Kansas


The $7 billion Grain Belt Express, an 800-mile transmission line designed to carry wind-powered electricity from southwest Kansas and through Missouri and Ilinois and ending in Indiana has faced its share of legal challenges and opposition.

Now Invenergy’s massive project faces another—from some of the operators and re-enactors at Fort Larned, Kansas, the historic National Park Service Fort where Colonel George Custer launched his search and destroy mission against Plains Indians in 1867.

“They put in these power lines and what’s next?” asked  Kristin Keith, a volunteer who portrays the wife of the commanding officer in the early days of the Fort. She is also President of Fort Larned Old Guard, an auxiliary group at the fort located about 5 miles west of the city of Larned.

The power lines will be constructed less than two miles from the western side of the Fort and include towers ranging in height from 130 to 160 feet reported The Journal, a publication of the Kansas Leadership Center.

Woman in long, blue turn-of-the-century dress sits in historic room.

(photo credit: Jeff Tuttle)

“If you are at the fort as a tourist – definitely as a historian – you are wanting an authentic view and experience what life was like in the 1860s,” Keith told the publication.

“But then, you look out and see these huge power lines and, you know, it diminishes your experience. So, that’s where we are.”

She raised another point of opposition.

“We have a good thing out at Fort Larned. It’s one of the most well-preserved forts on the frontier and in the West. How do you protect that?”

The Grain Belt Express won approval from the Kansas Corporation Commission in June. The Journal reported that Invenergy is working with the National Park Service and conducting an analysis to assess potential visual impacts.

Source: The Journal