Hannibal ratepayers could see electric rates drop, if a controversial project receives state approval.

Tuesday evening, the Hannibal City Council authorized the Board of Public Works to negotiate with a utility consortium for cheaper power rates.

The deal hinges on Missouri Public Service Commission approval of the Clean Line Energy project.  CLE proposes to bring wind-generated power from Kansas across Missouri and Illinois into Indiana.

The PSC turned down the project last year, primarily due to a lack of benefit to Missouri consumers.  Now Clean Line proposes to sell lower priced electricity to cities along the transmission line route.  Company officials believe this will remove a major roadblock to approval.   However, a second application was also recently turned down by the PSC, this time due to a technicality--the company failed to file a required notice 60 days prior to the application.  CLE has since filed the 60 day notice.

The Block Grain Belt Express group opposes the project.  Members say the project will hurt property values and farming operations.

If approved, the transmission line would run south of Hannibal through Ralls County, where a converter station would be built. Partly as a result of pressure from affected landowners, including those in neighboring Ralls County, the City held off making a commitment for power.  Officials say the project has now reached a crucial stage---if and when approved, time will be of the essence.  The council’s affirmative vote allows the BPW to begin negotiating once the project gets the green light.

In other business:

  • A request from Casey Herschler of Canton Marine Towing Company was referred to the Parks and Recreation Department and the Parks Board. Herschler told the council the recently approved Riverfront Renovation project omitted  his company from the plan.  He is requesting the plan be amended to include CMT on the riverfront.
  • Hannibal resident Dennis Kolarki addressed the council regarding public participation at  meetings.  Kolarki cited the previous council meeting where a number of citizens in attendance were not allowed to speak in favor of keeping the marina.  Instead, one person was allowed to speak for the marina, and one against.  Mayor James Hark remarked that public comments can be accepted when the proper protocol is met.  He also said the council will not tolerate bad or disruptive behavior.
  • City Manager Jeff LaGarce presented the community PRIDE project to the council.  The program targets areas with run down or vacant homes.  It offers incentives to builders and rehabbers to renovate properties. Police Chief Lyndell Davis says the South Side will be the first area to receive attention.  Besides the economic benefits, Davis says removing or renovating the homes helps discourage criminal activity. LaGarce says an ordinance approving the PRIDE project will likely be submitted to the council at its August meeting.
  • Lisa Marks received approval to close selected streets in the historical area during the Big River Steampunk Festival to be held September 3 -5.
  • DPW Superintendent Brian Chaplain received approval to purchase a curb machine for the Street Dept. at a cost of just under $18,000.
  • Police Chief Lyndell Davis received approval to purchase two new vans for his Community Service Officers.  The bid is awarded to low bidder Joe Machens Ford in Columbia.  The price quote for 2 vans was $39,414.
  • An Ordinance is approved that will allow voters to decide whether the $1.90 per month recycling fee will continue to be added to Hannibal BPW utility bills.  The issue will be on the November 8 ballot.