JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – After receiving numerous endorsements and commitments over the past couple of weeks, the Grain Belt Express Clean Line took a step for final approval Thursday, filing an application with the Public Service Commission (PSC).
Thursday’s application came with the announcement that several Fortune 500 companies that operate in Missouri would be endorsing the project as well, including General Motors, Target, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Kellogg’s and Nestlé.
“Access to renewable energy is increasingly important to our decisions about where to expand and to site new facilities,” the companies said in a letter to the PSC.
The wind energy project has also received the endorsements of Gov. Jay Nixon and the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. It received pocket approval from the legislature when it didn’t pass a bill that would have killed the project.
The application marks the project’s second attempt at approval by the PSC. It’s previous denial was over concerns about the rights of landowners where the line would go. Despite Nixon saying in his endorsement that he thought those concerns had now been addressed by Clean Line, the Missouri Farm Bureau remains opposed to the project.
“In supporting the proposed Grain Belt Express, Governor Nixon has chosen to align himself with an out-of-state corporation at the expense of the individual property rights of Missouri farmers and other landowners,” said Blake Hurst, president of the Missouri Farm Bureau. “Even though the Governor announced purported landowner protections, the fact remains that property can be taken from landowners over their objections by giving Grain Belt Express the power of eminent domain. Currently utility companies have the authority to use eminent domain as a ‘last resort for the public good’ but the awesome power of eminent domain should not be used for projects like Grain Belt Express.”
The Grain Belt Express projects to save ratepayers around the state around $10 million a year while providing renewable energy. Over 60 municipalities across the state have agreed to buy energy from the line.
“Low energy prices allow Missouri businesses to thrive and access to renewable energy is essential to many of our members’ sustainability goals,” said Diana Vuylsteke of the Missouri Industrial Energy Consumers. “It is imperative that we take advantage of free-market solutions like the Grain Belt Express to meet our energy needs. As representatives of some the largest energy users in the state, the Missouri Industrial Energy Consumers are pleased that Missouri regulators have the opportunity to take another look at the Grain Belt Express project.”
In addition to the low-cost renewable energy the project is expected to support about 1,500 Missouri jobs. Construction for the Grain Belt Express will be contracted by PAR Electric in Kansas City and components for the line will be built in Sedalia, Centralia and St. Louis.
For Clean Line Energy, the company building the Grain Belt Express, Missouri represents the last state where approval for the project is needed. It’s already been approved by regulatory commissions in Indiana, Illinois and Kansas.
“Over the last year, we have made tremendous progress in developing the Grain Belt Express so that it will benefit Missourians for years to come,” said Michael Skelly, president of Clean Line Energy. “We are pleased that the Grain Belt Express will provide power to Missouri municipal utilities across the state, saving millions of dollars each year for Missouri ratepayers. We are hopeful that the Missouri Public Service Commission will recognize the many long-term benefits that this project will bring to the Show-Me State.”
Read more of our coverage of the Grain Belt Express here.