Walmart, Missouri municipalities, Missouri industrial energy consumers make the case for Grain Belt Express with Missouri PSC
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (March 27, 2017) – Last week, Missouri municipalities, Walmart, the Missouri Industrial Energy Consumers and others made their case to Missouri regulators in support of a market-based infrastructure project that would bring low-cost energy to the state. The Grain Belt Express Clean Line is a proposed electric transmission line that would be the largest clean energy infrastructure project in Missouri’s history and would save Missouri ratepayers more than $10 million annually.
Since the infrastructure project was narrowly voted down in a 3-2 vote by the Commission in 2015, the Grain Belt Express has made significant progress solidifying major benefits for Missourians in its latest application. Most notably, Missouri’s municipal utilities will benefit directly by receiving the low-cost wind energy delivered by the Grain Belt Express. The Missouri Joint Municipal Electric Utility Commission (MJMEUC), an agency that procures power for municipal utilities across the state, has entered into an agreement to purchase wind energy delivered by the project to 35 municipal utilities in Missouri.
At the hearing, the public power agency testified that the project would save their customers more than $10 million annually, if approved by the Commission. These annual savings would continue for at least 20 years.
Additional municipalities are joining in. Last Tuesday, the Hannibal City Council approved an agreement to purchase wind energy delivered by the Grain Belt Express. They estimate saving more than $720,000 annually as a result of the project.
The City of Kirkwood also voted in support of purchasing wind energy delivered by the new transmission line, estimating that it will save their customers more than $2 million a year.
“From families to small businesses, we continue to hear that our customers want more renewable energy at a lower cost,” said Kirkwood Electric Director Mark Petty, who attended the hearing. “The Grain Belt Express is far and away our best opportunity to meet and exceed these challenging demands. But we can’t bring these savings to Kirkwood customers unless the Missouri Public Service Commission gives the Grain Belt project green light. It would be a real travesty if Missouri regulators deny our customers of these savings.”
A local county commissioner and county assessor also testified to the benefits the project would bring to their county. Grain Belt will pay landowners more than $32 million in easement payments and $7 million in property taxes that will support local communities and schools in its first year of operation alone.
“The real benefit of this project is to the children enrolled in the public school system,” said long-time Randolph County Assessor Richard Tregnago. “Well over a half million dollars may go to the education of 3,731 students residing in Randolph County in the first year the project is in operation. I expect the Grain Belt Express will continue to make significant tax payments to benefit our schools and community for the life of the transmission line.”
The Commission’s hearing lasted the full week and dozens of other witnesses testified in support, including, consumer, environmental, labor and business groups, while certain landowner groups and the Farm Bureau expressed their opposition to the project. The hearing provided an opportunity for Grain Belt Express to continue to answer questions and address concerns and committed to several conditions to protect landowners, including, a decommissioning fund and specific practices to mitigate impacts to agriculture.
“Over the last year, we have made tremendous progress in developing the Grain Belt Express so that it will benefit Missourians for generations to come,” said Michael Skelly, President of Clean Line Energy. “The Grain Belt Express is a market-based infrastructure project that will save Missouri municipal ratepayers more than $10 million annually, strengthen the state’s electric grid, and create hundreds of jobs. We are hopeful that Missouri regulators will recognize the many long-term benefits that this project will bring to the state.”
The Grain Belt Express is a privately financed infrastructure project. No taxpayer dollars will be spent to build the transmission line.
To learn more about the Grain Belt Express Clean Line, please visit www.GrainBeltExpressCleanLine.com.
Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.