The approved multistate wind-power transmission line will increase energy capacity for Missouri

Oct 12, 2023, 4:39 PM

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Regulators on Thursday gave the go-ahead for a multistate wind-energy power line to provide the equivalent of four nuclear power plants’ worth of energy to Missouri consumers.

At issue is the Grain Belt Express, a power line that will carry wind energy from Kansas across Missouri and Illinois before hooking into a power grid in Indiana that serves eastern states.

Invenergy Transmission, the Chicago-based company attempting to build the Grain Belt Express, last year proposed expanding the high-voltage power line’s capacity after years of complaints from Missouri farmers and lawmakers worried that the line would trample property rights without providing much service to Missouri residents.

Under the new plan, approved 4-1 by Missouri’s Public Service Commission, Grain Belt Express plans to bring as much as 2,500 megawatts of power to Missouri. Previously, state utility regulators approved a line that would have brought only 500 megawatts of energy to the state.

Investment in the project, which would stretch about 800 miles (1287 kilometers) from Kansas to Indiana on a route crossing Missouri and Illinois, also is expected to soar to about $7 billion, Invenergy said.

Various municipal utilities in Missouri have long intended to buy power from the project, but now five times as much electricity will be delivered to the state — rising from 500 to 2,500 megawatts — compared to earlier plans.

“The approval of this transmission line and the ability to bring five times as much power to Missouri as originally planned will not only help us tap a significant source of domestic energy, but it will also help improve reliability and affordability for the Missouri business community,” said Ray McCarty, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Missouri, in a statement.

The project will help unlock $7.5 billion in energy cost savings in Missouri and Illinois, according to its developers.

Some farmers who don’t want high-power transmission lines on their land have fought the project for years.

Commissioner Kayla Hahn, the only Missouri regulator to vote against the amended proposal Thursday, said she’s worried there are not enough safeguards for farmers and other property owners, such as how compensation for damaged crops is handled.

“I want this line to benefit everyone to the maximum extent practicable,” Hahn said. “I don’t think this order goes far enough.”

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The approved multistate wind-power transmission line will increase energy capacity for Missouri