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Backers of high-voltage line that would deliver Kansas wind power seek customers

Supporters of the Grain Belt Express have said it will deliver low-cost renewable energy from Kansas, which is rich in wind, to other states that want or need the renewable energy.
Supporters of the Grain Belt Express have said it will deliver low-cost renewable energy from Kansas, which is rich in wind, to other states that want or need the renewable energy. The Kansas City Star

The backers of a proposed high-voltage power line to ship Kansas wind power to other states are soliciting customers.

The Grain Belt Express, which would stretch across 750 miles and cost $2 billion, still has regulatory obstacles to overcome. But the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last year granted it authority to sell transmission capacity to potential customers, such as companies in Kansas that generate the renewable power.

The solicitation for commitments, expected to last about seven weeks, will be a gauge in determining the interest in using the line. If built, the power line could supply electricity to 1.4 million homes and serve Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Eastern states.

“It’s the next major step for us,” said Mark Lawlor, director of development for Clean Line Energy Partners, the Houston-based developer of the Grain Belt Express.

Some have questioned whether there would be enough customers to use and justify the Grain Belt Express, which would stretch from Kansas through Missouri, central Illinois and a small part of Indiana.

But Clean Line has said there will be sufficient customers. It was encouraged by the strong response to a solicitation of customers for another power line it plans to build to deliver wind energy from Oklahoma to Southern states.

Supporters of the Grain Belt Express have said it will deliver low-cost renewable energy from Kansas, which is rich in wind, to other states that want or need the renewable energy. The line will connect to other transmission lines in Indiana, which could send the power farther east.

The project has been opposed by some landowners along the route who say they don’t want the high-voltage lines near them.

Kansas and Indiana regulators have already approved the Grain Belt Express. A decision from Missouri regulators-the state would also get an interconnect-could come in the next couple of months. Clean Line will seek approval later this year for the power line to cross Illinois.

Illinois has an expedited process that could render a decision by the end of 2015. Illinois regulators recently approved another high-voltage line planned by Clean Line that would send wind power from Iowa through their state.

If all regulatory approvals are granted, the Grain Belt Express could be completed and operational in 2019.

To reach Steve Everly, call 816-234-4455 or send email to severly@kcstar.com.

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