Grain Belt Express files for appeal with Missouri Supreme Court

Wind Farm in Midwest, Credit Howard Rowe
  

JEFFERSON CITY – The Grain Belt Express Clean Line is asking the Missouri Supreme Court to take up its case.

The company on Monday filed their application for transfer of the appeal with the Eastern District Court of Appeals, following the Missouri Public Service Commission’s rejection of a request for a rehearing.

Clean Line has been attempting to receive a certificate of convenience and necessity for years, and for three times now, its request has been denied by the PSC. The latest denial came after a recent court decision, Neighbors United Against Ameren’s Power Line v. PSC, which the commission said ties their hands in the matter. The commissioners, while rejecting the CCN, made it clear that were it not for the court ruling, the CCN probably would have been granted.

The PSC stated that “the evidence in the case demonstrated that the Grain Belt Express would create both short-term and long-term benefits to ratepayers and all the citizens of the state.”

“We were encouraged by the PSC’s determination that the Grain Belt Express is in the public interest and will benefit the State of Missouri,” Michael Skelly, President of Clean Line said. “We remain committed to moving the project forward and to bringing low-cost renewable energy, tax revenues, and jobs to Missourians.” 

With their Monday application, Clean Line is asking the Supreme Court to intervene, citing the immediate financial impact the project’s delay could have on consumers and taxpayers, as well as the decaying effect the ruling has on the PSC’s authority in determining whether utility projects are in the best interest of the state.

The court ruling, in effect, gives priority to county commissioners for the approval of linear infrastructure projects, though the PSC has been the granting authority in the matter for over a century.

Under this current reading of the Missouri law by the courts, no infrastructure project can be approved by the PSC without first securing road crossing permission from each county it traverses. 

Grain Belt’s application asks the Missouri Supreme Court to reexamine the decision and affirm the roles of the PSC and the county.

Grain Belt Express has entered into an agreement with over three dozen Missouri municipal utilities to provide capacity on the line, which would save the cities over ten million dollars annually by accessing lower-cost renewable energy.

If the project is delayed, then supporters of the Clean Line project say it will impact hundreds of thousands of Missouri electrical consumers who will pay higher power prices if the wind transmission line is not built.

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 benjamin@themissouritimes.com or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.