Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

After Years of Rejection, Missouri Regulators Give Nod to Grain Belt Express Transmission Line

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

After Years of Rejection, Missouri Regulators Give Nod to Grain Belt Express Transmission Line

Article excerpt

After faltering before Missouri regulators for years, the state Public Service Commission finally gave a nod Wednesday to the Grain Belt Express transmission line -- a project aiming to bring Kansas wind energy east to Missouri, Illinois and Indiana, and then into the grid beyond.

The unanimous decision from PSC commissioners grants the project "a certificate of convenience and necessity" -- a designation recognizing it as being in the public interest, and lending developers the right to use eminent domain as needed to construct the line.

The move from the PSC capped a series of developments that built momentum for the long-stalled project. Last year, for instance, an appeals court judge said the commission "erred" in its controversial legal interpretation that it was unable to approve the line without first attaining assent from individual counties the project would pass through. That sentiment was echoed in a July ruling from the Missouri Supreme Court, which redirected the matter to the PSC.

Despite the PSC's earlier interpretation that it could not authorize the project, commissioners had firmly expressed at the time that it would enable millions of dollars in energy cost savings and benefit the public.

In November, an agreement was announced to sell rights to the transmission project from the prospective developer, Clean Line Energy, to the Chicago-based company, Invenergy. The pending sale, itself, was seen as a promising sign for the project by some outsiders who felt Invenergy would not be interested if they thought it were unlikely to come to fruition.

"The Order confirms that the Grain Belt Express project is in the public interest and is good for Missouri," Invenergy said in a statement released after Wednesday's decision from the PSC.

The company is now focused on the separate regulatory matter of having its acquisition of the project approved in Missouri and Kansas, said Beth Conley, an Invenergy spokesperson. …

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