The Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC) has unanimously approved Chicago-based Invenergy’s acquisition of the Grain Belt Express Clean Line. The PSC’s decision to approve the sale was a necessary step for Invenergy to buy the rights to construct the proposed line, which will carry electric power generated by wind farms in Kansas to eastern consumers.
In a five-zero vote, the PSC determined that allowing Invenergy to acquire Grain Belt is not detrimental to public interest. The line, which will go through eight northern Missouri counties, would also deliver power to at least 350,000 Missourians and unlock energy savings of US$12.8 million per year, based on contracts already signed with municipal utilities around the state. Additional benefits of the Grain Belt Express Project to the state include:
- An estimated 1500 jobs during the three to four years of construction.
- An ongoing source of property tax revenues to the political subdivisions where the facilities are located.
- A participant-funded model, such that Grain Belt Express assumes all financial risk of building and operating the transmission line, with no costs anticipated to be recovered through the rates of regional transmission organizations.
- An estimated US$9.5 – US$11 million in annual savings for customers of the Missouri Joint Municipal Electric Utility Commission, which will receive up to 250 MW of capacity from the project through an existing agreement.
- Additional access to high-capacity-factor Kansas wind resources to fulfill the growing demand for renewable energy in Missouri.
“The acquisition will expedite and promote the continued development of the Grain Belt Express Project, which will deliver low-cost wind energy to Missouri wholesale customers, who will, in turn, provide that lower-cost energy to their retail customers,” said the PSC.
“Grain Belt Express now has all the necessary approvals from state regulators to proceed with project development,” Invenergy spokeswoman Beth Conley said in a statement. “We are grateful for the PSC’s thorough review of one of the state’s largest energy infrastructure projects, and for their recognition that Invenergy has the track record and expertise to bring this US$500 million investment to Missouri,” she added.
The PSC approved the acquisition subject to the same protections for landowners through the landowner protocol and other conditions imposed on Grain Belt in a March 20, 2019 PSC decision which granted Grain Belt a certificate of convenience and necessity to construct, own, operate, control, manage and maintain a high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line and associated facilities within the eight Missouri counties of Buchanan, Clinton, Caldwell, Carroll, Chariton, Randolph, Monroe, and Ralls.
The PSC said it was appropriate to transfer those protections and conditions to Invenergy, “Grain Belt did not object to those protections and conditions in that case, and Invenergy does not object to them in this case.”
However, the project still needs regulatory approval in Illinois, where an appeals court last year overturned the state’s previous approval. Invenergy has said that its structures will take up less than 10 acres of land throughout Missouri, not including land underneath transmission wires.