Clean Line receives pocket approval from legislature

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NEW LONDON, Mo. – On the heels of lawmakers voting to reject a House bill designed to stop the Grain Belt Express Clean Line project, Michael Skelly, President of Clean Line Energy, visited a Ralls County site of a Grain Belt Express Clean Line’s delivery station, a $100 million facility that proponents say will allow Missourians to receive low-cost, clean power from the Grain Belt Express Clean Line.

The Grain Belt Express Clean Line is a proposed electric power line that will deliver competitively-priced renewable energy to Missouri. The House Energy and Environment Committee voted down House Bill 1027, which would modify provisions relating to eminent domain powers of utilities, on April 28. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Frankford, who represents Monroe, Lincoln, Pike, and Ralls Counties.
“With the vote this morning, Missouri lawmakers have demonstrated that they stand behind market based solutions to bring low-cost, renewable energy to the state,” said Mark Lawlor, Director of Development for Clean Line Energy. “The Grain Belt Express Clean Line will deliver enough low-cost clean power to Missouri through a direct connection to the electric grid to power 200,000 Missouri homes. We look forward to continuing to work with landowners and community members to develop the project in Missouri in a collaborative way. This project is very important to Missouri’s energy future.”

RELATED: Grain Belt Express project moves process forward, receiving public support

At the hearing on the bill, supporters spoke of the benefits that the Grain Belt Express Clean Line project would bring to the state and asked legislators to block HB 1027.

Clean Line Energy President Michael Skelly in Ralls County on May 11, 2015 PHOTO/SUBMITTED

Clean Line Energy President Michael Skelly in Ralls County on May 11, 2015
PHOTO/SUBMITTED

Skelly met with local stakeholders and local media in a 60-acre field last week. He explained how the delivery station, a substation-like facility, will connect the power from the Grain Belt Express transmission line to the electricity grid in Missouri.

“The Grain Belt Express will deliver clean energy directly to Missouri, enough clean energy to power 200,000 homes,” Skelly said. “Our country is moving to a cleaner energy mix and the Grain Belt Express will be a part of the infrastructure necessary to make that happen.”

Skelly discussed the economic impact of Clean Line’s $500 million investment in Missouri as well as property tax revenues that will be paid to counties along the route of the Grain Belt Express Clean Line.

Ralls county assessor Tom Ruhl told Skelly the potential tax revenue would be beneficial for Ralls County, namely for the school district which is the largest taxing entity.

“The Grain Belt Express Clean Line will provide environmental and financial benefits to our county and our state,” said Ruhl. “Our state cannot afford to put our head in the sand when it comes to increasing environmental regulation on carbon and our populations’ growing preferences for renewable energy. The Grain Belt Express will provide low-cost wind energy to our county and state and will strengthen the electricity grid.”

Skelly said Clean Line is committed to continuing to work with landowners in Ralls County.

“There’s always likely to be some objections to a new, large project like this – but we’ve worked really hard and will continue to work really hard to hear from everyone involved,” Skelly said.

Clean Line could start construction in 2017 if they receive the go-ahead from the Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC).

Comments from the public to the PSC are not available for public viewing.

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Rachael Herndon Dunn

Rachael Herndon is the managing editor at The Missouri Times, but also produces This Week in Missouri Politics and publishes Missouri Times Magazine. She joined the Missouri Times in 2014, returning to writing after working as a campaign and legislative staffer. Rachael studied at the University of Missouri - Columbia. She lives in Jefferson City with her husband, Brandon, and their two children. To contact Rachael, email rachael@themissouritimes.com, or via Twitter @TheRachDunn.

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