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Residents Concerned About Proposed Substation

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28) -- Alliant Energy is set to construct a new electrical substation on the southeast side of Cedar Rapids. They say it will provide more stability on their grid, while accommodating the needs of a growing neighborhood.
Not everyone is happy with the project, however. Residents are raising concerns over EMF or electromagnetic fields. It's created by anything using electricity a phone, your TV, and of course, substations.

Residents in the area says despite what Alliant says, the impact is concerning.

It makes me want to leave Cedar Rapids, says resident Jennifer Van Hyfte. It makes me want to go crazy because I feel so powerless.

Van Hyfte says it's not just her voice being ignored, it's her entire neighborhood's

Alliant does hold a monopoly in this city, but it doesn't give them the right to trample on us, says resident Cathy Munson.

Both Van Hyfte and Munson have houses that are adjacent to the proposed substation. Van Hyfte's son, 5 year old Zane, has autism.

The environment can be a possible cause of Autism, and yes, EMF is everywhere, she says. But I don't want to increase the amount around us.

Justin Foss with Alliant Energy gave us a walk-through on the future site Friday, which he says was their best choice.

When you want to build something, and you want to put it out of view, there's only a few places you can go, Foss says.

In addition to the substation being smaller than the ones you may see around town, like the one on 29th and Center Point Road, Foss says the EMF given off from the equipment isn't harmful.

When your vacuum cleaner is running, it's giving producing a lot more EMF than you would see from a substation while standing outside the fence, he says.

Foss says the EMF dissipates the further it gets away from the station. Alliant provided data to the city planning commission courtesy of the World Health Organization showing that substations rarely produce significant electrical fields outside of their perimeter."

But for Van Hyfte, rarely is not convincing enough. She says not all studies agree on the impact of EMF.

You cant give me 100 percent it's not harmful. I'm going to protect my children, that is my number one concern.

She's says shes prepared to give it all up to do so.

I was concerned enough that I was willing to walk away from my house,

Foss says the final step is to appear before the citys board of adjustments. He says they will continue to work with residents as much as possible.

Residents say they are asking for one thing - for Alliant to move the substation elsewhere.

They vow the fight here isn't over.
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