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The latest news from every corner of the state, including policy emerging from Missouri's capitol.

The Grain Belt Express power line gets final approval in Missouri

A row of wind turbines on March 11, 2009.
A row of wind turbines on March 11, 2009.

Developers of a high-powered transmission line running through northern Missouri and Illinois say the project has all the necessary state approvals to begin first-phase construction.

Chicago-based Invenergy made the announcement after the Missouri Public Service Commission approved an updated plan last week. The roughly $7 billion project will bring clean energy from Kansas to an end point just inside the Illinois-Indiana state line. Along the way, it will deliver some power to communities in Missouri and Illinois.

Invenergy is increasing the capacity of the proposed line to the equivalent of nearly 4 nuclear power plants. The company says once complete, the Grain Belt Express should translate into $11 billion in energy cost savings over 15 years for customers in the Midwest and other regions.

The commission voted 4-1 in favor of the project Thursday, touting increased stability for the power grid, cost savings, and other potential economic development benefits.

 The Grain Belt Express will take power generated by wind turbines in Kansas through Missouri and Illinois to connect with other transmission lines.
The Grain Belt Express will take power generated by wind turbines in Kansas through Missouri and Illinois to connect with other transmission lines.

Commissioner Kayla Hahn voted against it, citing concerns of landowners and the difficulty in getting straight answers out of Invenergy.

“The company is very calculated in what it was saying to release the minimal amount of information,” she said during Thursday’s meeting. “And I can imagine, if that’s the same way they approached the landowners, that’s why the landowners are so upset with this particular company.”

The Missouri Farm Bureau remains opposed to the Grain Belt Express.

“The commission is putting a lot of faith in the company to do the right thing when they have a track record of failing to do so time and time again,” President Garrett Hawkins said in a statement.

Even though he voted for the project, Commissioner Jason Holsman wants Invenergy to improve some relationships.

“We want the landowners to be made whole and to be compensated justly and we want the company to be responsive when the landowner feels that is not being taken care of,” he said during the Commission’s public session.

Officials from Invenergy were not immediately available.

In a statement, the company says it has acquired 95% of the property easements needed in Kansas and Missouri.

Ivenergy said everything is on track to begin full construction in early 2025, pending federal permit approvals.

Copyright 2023 St. Louis Public Radio. To see more, visit St. Louis Public Radio.

Wayne Pratt is a veteran journalist who has made stops at radio stations, wire services and websites throughout North America. He comes to St. Louis Public Radio from Indianapolis, where he was assistant managing editor at Inside Indiana Business. Wayne also launched a local news operation at NPR member station WBAA in West Lafayette, Indiana, and spent time as a correspondent for a network of more than 800 stations. His career has included positions in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Toronto, Ontario and Phoenix, Arizona. Wayne grew up near Ottawa, Ontario and moved to the United States in the mid-90s on a dare. Soon after, he met his wife and has been in the U.S. ever since.