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PSC dismisses complaint against Grain Belt Express

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri’s Public Service Commission (PSC) dismissed a complaint against the Grain Belt Express that alleged changes to the project violated prior PSC orders.

A coalition of groups, including the Missouri Landowners Alliance (MLA), argued planned changes to the project released by parent company Invenergy would invalidate an order issued by the commission in 2019. The certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN) required the project file an updated application if the design changed — which management had yet to do.

The PSC dismissed the complaint against the transmission line during Wednesday’s agenda meeting, with commissioners stating the change in plans did not violate the CCN and pointing to a lack of proof on the plaintiff’s part. 

The proposed 780-foot transmission line, which would deliver energy from Kansas to Missouri and other states, has been a point of contention among legislators and landowners. This was the last pending complaint against the project, with others pointing to alleged violations of easement agreements and the use of eminent domain denied earlier this year.

The General Assembly weighed in on the issue this session, though no legislation made it across the finish line. 

Additionally Wednesday, the commission approved Evergy Missouri’s request for a variance from commission rules, allowing it to delay its depreciation studies until its general rate case next year. Commission Staff recommended the variance but noted the request had come after the June filing deadline, leading the commission to ask Evergy and other utilities to file variance requests at least 30 days before deadlines in the future. The PSC ordered Evergy to submit its studies by the end of October. 

The Office of Public Counsel (OPC) made a motion to dismiss Evergy’s application for authority to record and preserve the costs of February’s winter storms last week, stating the company did not need the commission’s consent to track costs. Commissioners denied the dismissal request this week, noting its approval is required for the request to progress. 

An amendment to Evergy Missouri West’s territorial agreement with the city of Higginsville was approved, allowing the city to provide service to two customers outside the city limits. The commission also set evidentiary hearings on Empire District Electric Company’s request to increase rates for electric customers for January and February. 

Finally, the commission sought feedback from stakeholders on a temporary order banning distributed energy resource aggregators for commercial and industrial customers. The temporary ban, which has been in place for a decade, may conflict with a recent order from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that removed federal barriers for aggregators. Stakeholders were asked to provide feedback on the possible removal of the PSC’s order in the coming weeks. 

The next PSC agenda hearing is scheduled for Aug. 11.