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The Missouri Public Service Commission voted to allow the Grain Belt Express transmission line project to move forward.
By a 4-1 vote, the commission approved a request filed by Grain Belt Express Clean Line LLC (Grain Belt) Aug. 24, 2022, to amend the existing certificate of convenience and necessity that was granted by the Commission to Grain Belt in case EA-2016-0358.
The commission granted the amended CCN determining:
1) There is a need for the service;
2) Grain Belt is qualified to provide the proposed service;
3) Grain Belt has the financial ability to provide the service;
4) Grain Belt’s proposal is economically feasible; and
5) The service promotes the public interest.
The current application requests authority to construct, install, own, operate, maintain and otherwise control and manage an approximately 800-mile, overhead, multi-terminal ±600 kilovolt (kV) high-voltage, direct current transmission line and associated facilities including converter stations and alternating current connector lines (the “Project”) in two phases.
In its amended application, the commission authorizes Grain Belt to relocate the Missouri converter station from Ralls County to Monroe County and to increase the capacity of the Missouri converter station from 500 MW to 2,500 MW; and relocate the AC connector line (the “Tiger Connector”) from Ralls County to Monroe, Audrain and Callaway counties.
“Increasing the size of the transmission capacity and adding the Tiger Connector, including moving the converter station and AC line, the Project will bring the interconnectivity to multiple regions to improve the reliability and resiliency of the grid for Missourians and national security,” stated the commission.
“This will help guard against price spikes and outages such as those experienced by Winter Storms Uri and Elliot.”
By allowing the project to be completed in two phases, more low-cost renewable energy will flow sooner across Grain Belt’s transmission line and into the Midcontinent Independent System Operator region and Associated Electric Cooperative Incorporated territory where it will be delivered to the Missouri Electric Commission members who have already executed contracts, and other members that are expected to participate.
“The Project will result in $17.6 billion in savings to Missouri ratepayers and $7.6 billion in social benefits, compared to the projected $5.7 billion cost of the Project,” noted the commission. “In addition, the HVDC converter, proposed to be located in Monroe County, can serve as a critical grid asset to ensure grid stability.”
The commission found that numerous conditions to which Grain Belt voluntarily agreed were reasonable and necessary.
The conditions include provisions related to financing, interconnection, nearby utility facilities, emergency restoration, construction and clearing land, maintenance and repair of the line and right-of-way, and landowner interactions and right-of-way acquisition.
“While there are no federal or Missouri requirements regarding agricultural impact mitigation practices for constructing overhead transmission lines, Grain Belt has created the Missouri Agricultural Impact Mitigation Protocol,” said the Commission. “This establishes standards and policies to avoid, minimize or mitigate any negative agricultural impacts that may result due to transmission line and converter facilities construction and operation.”
The Missouri Farm Bureau took issue with the decision.
“We’re once again disappointed in the PSC’s decision to dismiss the rights of Missouri landowners and rural residents in favor of Invenergy’s Grain Belt Express project,” said Garrett Hawkins, MOFB president.
“In approving GBE’s “Tiger Connector” amendment, the commission is putting a lot of faith in the company to do the right thing, when they have a track record of failing to do so time and time again.
“This ruling, once again, underscores the need for PSC modernization and stronger landowner protections.
“It is simply wrong that landowners along Invenergy’s proposed route are forced to sell their land at a time – and to a buyer – not of their choosing, to forever host a line they do not want.”