A recent editorial in The Missouri Times referred to the Grain Belt Express Transmission Line as an “Investment in Missouri,” citing the creation of 1,500 jobs and the promise of low cost electricity.
When the Grain Belt Express was first proposed, the Missouri Public Service Commission turned down the project because there were not enough perceived benefits to Missouri. In the second proposal, the private company proposing the project, added an off ramp for some power in eastern Missouri and promised to sell it to that area at or below the cost of producing the electricity.
After a lengthy court battle, the PSC granted approval to build the power line.
The primary difference in the second proposal was the addition of the reduced cost electricity. The number of jobs created in each proposal was approximately the same. All but a handful of any jobs created by the building of a massive direct current power line would be transient, as the project moves east. The first time around, the PSC didn’t consider the number of jobs produced to be significant, and the numbers haven’t changed.
The editorial also claimed that Grain Belt would produce “billions of dollars” in cost savings to Missourians for decades to come. That’s hard to believe when the wind turbines themselves don’t last that long and can barely compete with other sources of power without huge government subsidies and tax credits.
There are different opinions as to whether Grain Belt is good for Missouri.
The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter even if the electricity being promised was going to be free, it would still be too expensive if it comes at the price of giving the power of eminent domain to a private company for private purposes. Missouri Farm Bureau president Blake Hurst says the project “sets precedent for private companies to buy land on the cheap and profit at the expense of Missouri citizens.” It does.
The Missouri Legislature should pass the Eminent Domain protection bill working its way through the legislature, even if it means the Grain Belt Express would not be built. The cost to Missourian’s is just too high.
Kyle Carroll is a Missouri native and the presiding commissioner of DeKalb County.