Grain Belt Wind Line files Appeal with Missouri Supreme Court

The Grain Belt Express Clean Line project was shot down in August by the Missouri Public Service Commission. The state’s portion was part of an ambitious high-voltage direct system planned to bring power from Kansas wind farms through Missouri to Illinois, Indiana and neighboring states.

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Rejected by Missouri utility regulators, officials with a $2 billion wind-power transmission project are appealing to the state’s highest court for help.

The Grain Belt Express Clean Line project was shot down in August by the Missouri Public Service Commission. The state’s portion was part of an ambitious high-voltage direct system planned to bring power from Kansas wind farms through Missouri to Illinois, Indiana and neighboring states.

Grain Belt Express planners are asking the Supreme Court of Missouri to take it up before resolution in the state’s court of appeals. The planners have touted the project as bringing millions of dollars in economic development annually and said they made the appeal due to the financial impact on consumers and taxpayers caused by an extended legal delay.

“We were encouraged by the PSC’s determination that the Grain Belt Express is in the public interest and will benefit the state of Missouri,” Grain Belt parent company Clean Line Energy’s CEO Michael Skelly said in a statement. “We remain committed to moving the project forward and to bringing low-cost renewable energy, tax revenues and jobs to Missourians.”

Ironically, the public service commission previously admitted that there was demand for this power in Missouri. However, it blamed the state’s legal structure for its decision to deny the permitting.

“There is substantial evidence in the record that the wind energy crossing this transmission line was going to be the lowest cost resource available. To me, this project would facilitate that worldwide trend that we’re seeing in renewables, in this region and in Missouri, and for that reason it was in the public interest to approve the line,” PSC Chairman Daniel Hall said during the August meeting. “Unfortunately, because of the structure of this Commission and the legal structure in this state we were unable to act in the public interest.”

Grain Belt’s case seeks to have the PSC focus exclusively on its role of deciding on whether utility projects are in the state’s best interest. “The urgency in answering this question is driven by a statewide financial impact on hundreds of thousands of Missouri electrical consumers who will pay higher power prices if the Grain Belt Express wind transmission line is not built,” the company said in its announcement.

Some Missouri state leaders, including Gov. Jay Nixon and numerous companies had expressed support for the wind transmission project prior to the PSC rejection.

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