Saying Missouri officials made multiple errors and did not act “even-handed,” a Houston-based energy company is asking the Missouri Public Service Commission to rehear its application to build a $2.2 billion high-voltage transmission line to carry Kansas wind power across Missouri to Eastern power grids.
“The project is too important to Missouri’s energy future not to pursue,” Clean Line Energy officials said, adding that the state’s ruling also deprived the rest of country of low-cost, clean energy.
On July 1, the PSC denied Clean Line Energy’s request to build Grain Belt Express, a project backed by business groups, labor unions and environmentalists but hotly opposed by farmers in the path that stretched from Buchanan County on the west to Ralls County on the east.
“We continue to be disappointed by the lack of respect shown by Clean Line to landowners and citizens of Missouri,” opposition leader and farmer Jennifer Gatrel said Thursday. “They have been told no in every way possible and yet they persist in attempting to override the will of the people and the decision by our commissioners.”
The move by Clean Line was not unexpected. The company had 30 days to file for a rehearing, and the request is a necessary step if the company plans to appeal the PSC’s decision to the Missouri Court of Appeals.
Clean Line could also seek federal intervention. The country’s energy policy calls for increased wind power, and Kansas has been called the “Saudi Arabia of wind.”
But that federal policy does not include a how-to on getting those transmission lines past farmers who don’t want a bunch of 150-foot towers strung with high-voltage cable coming across their land. Some of the properties are “century farms,” owned by the same family for at least 100 years.
The PSC’s July 1 order noted farmers’ concerns about crops, pastures and maneuvering equipment around towers. It also said that Grain Belt’s benefits were outweighed by burdens on landowners.
In its newly filed request for a rehearing, Clean Line countered that “any detriment to landowners is drastically outweighed by the hundreds of millions of dollars of benefits.” It cited jobs, clean energy and electrical power for 200,000 Missouri homes.
Company officials also asserted that a PSC ruling “must not be arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable and the commission must not abuse its discretion.”
Gatrel said the PSC staff diligently researched the Grain Belt project and recommended to commissioners that it not be approved.
The PSC has 30 days to rule on Clean Line’s request.