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PSC to consider Grain Belt Express complaint case

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri’s Public Service Commission (PSC) set a procedural schedule to consider a complaint against the Grain Belt Express Project this week. 

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

The project would develop an overhead and direct transmission line of around 780 miles, delivering wind energy from Kansas to Missouri and other states. Parent company Invenergy also plans to include rural broadband infrastructure along its transmission line. The project was approved by the PSC last year. 

The PSC scheduled a series of hearings and briefs from February through mid-April during this week’s agenda meeting. 

Chariton Valley Communications Corporation requested authority to expand its designation as an Eligible Telecommunications Carrier (ETC). Chariton was awarded federal funding to expand rural broadband access in its service area and required an expansion to offer service to new locations within the project area. Staff found that the company met the PSC’s telecommunication requirements, and the commission approved the request. 

Missouri-American Water Company applied for a CCN to acquire and manage the sewer system currently operated by the city of Hallsville. The Boone County Regional Sewer District filed an application to intervene in the case, stating that it could be negatively affected by the acquisition. Though Staff suggested the request be approved, the PSC set a procedural schedule for hearing and deliberation from next week through May. 

A water system providing service in Stone County, known as the Mills System, filed a letter in December initiating a Staff-assisted rate case to examine its rates. The commission previously issued a CCN for the system and required a rate case within a year of its issuance. While commission rules typically require an in-person public hearing for rate cases, the PSC approved a joint request from Mills and Staff for a virtual hearing, scheduled for Feb. 2. 

Evergy Metro applied for approval from the commission for the decommissioning costs of its Wolf Creek Generating Station. Evergy submitted its most recent analysis, conducted last year, which the PSC approved along with the company’s annual $1.2 million investment into its decommissioning fund. 

Evergy’s fuel adjustment clause (FAC) prudence review led to an agreement with commission Staff and the Office of the Public Counsel (OPC) outlining a series of changes to the filing. Revisions include removing residential fuel and facility retirement costs. The commission approved the changes, noting that a hearing to address lingering concerns will still be held later this month.  

The next PSC agenda meeting is scheduled for Jan. 27. The commission plans to continue meeting virtually for the foreseeable future.