- Associated Press - Saturday, June 25, 2016

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - Supporters of a transmission line that would carry wind power from western Kansas to the East Coast say they plan to present the proposal again in Missouri, the only state in the project’s path that has rejected the plan.

At the same time, opponents of the Grain Belt Express Clean Line promise they are ready to again defeat the plan for the 780-mile Grain Belt Express line, which would transmit electricity from Dodge City, Kansas, across northern Missouri and Illinois to a substation in Sullivan, Indiana, where it would connect to an existing grid extending farther east.

Regulators in Kansas, Illinois and Indiana have approved the project, but the Missouri Public Service Commission rejected it last year after strong opposition from residents in the north-central Missouri counties that would be bisected by the line, The Columbia Daily Tribune reported (https://bit.ly/28OpFW8 ).

The commission denied an application from Houston-based Clean Line Energy Partners, which is proposing the line, after commissioners were persuaded that it would not benefit the state’s consumers and landowners. The commission declined to reconsider its decision in August, and the case was closed in October.

But the $2.2 billion project has been endorsed by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. And a group of 67 Missouri municipal utilities agreed earlier this month to buy long-term transmission service from the line if it is built.

Mark Lawlor, director of development with Clean Line, said the company has been “actively developing the project” and intends to refile its application with the commission “in the coming weeks.”

“We’re positioning ourselves to go back to the PSC,” he said. “Hopefully with a better result this time.”

Clean Line has said the line could deliver up to 500 megawatts of power in Missouri and would ship about 3,500 megawatts of electricity through the state.

Daniel Mehan, president and CEO of the Missouri chamber, said in a news release that Clean Line’s projected $500 million investment in Missouri “will boost our state’s economy and make the state more competitive when attracting new businesses here.”

A group organized to oppose the project, Block Grain Belt Express, has already had two public meetings to rally continued opposition. The group has questioned the project’s impact on property issues and health, and Grain Belt’s claims about the project’s benefits.

“People are determined - they’re fired up,” said Jennifer Gatrel, spokeswoman for Block Grain Belt Express, who said the first two of several scheduled public meetings raised $18,000 for the group’s legal costs and the challenge to the commission.

“It really kind of shows that people are willing to put their money where their mouth is,” Gatrel said. “We previously beat them once and are absolutely committed to doing it again.”

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Information from: Columbia Daily Tribune, https://www.columbiatribune.com

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