Case over stalled transmission line for wind energy advances to Missouri Supreme Court

Source: By Bryce Gray, St. Louis Post-Dispatch • Posted: Wednesday, February 28, 2018

With the proposed multi-state transmission line, Grain Belt Express, held up over controversial interpretations of Missouri law, prospective developers of the project have pushed for the case to go before the state Supreme Court.

That wish has now been granted after an opinion filed Tuesday in the Eastern District of the Missouri Court of Appeals ordered that the matter be transferred to the Missouri Supreme Court.

Presiding judge Lisa Page concluded that the Public Service Commission “erred” in its finding that it could not lawfully authorize the project. Citing a controversial court ruling, the PSC ruled last year that assent from individual counties along the line’s path were required before state approval — a condition that commissioners, themselves, said would have dire consequences for the development of future infrastructure in Missouri.

The 780-mile transmission line would enable the distribution of wind energy from Kansas to Missouri, Illinois and Indiana, before feeding into the grid at large. Though they did not grant approval to the project, members of the Missouri PSC acknowledged that the project was firmly in the public interest and would save millions of dollars for its electric customers in the state.

“Today’s ruling is a significant victory for the Missouri economy and for dozens of Missouri cities that could save more than $10 million annually from the delivery of low-cost clean energy by the Grain Belt Express Clean Line,” said Michael Skelly, president of Clean Line Energy, the company behind the project, in a statement. “Every day that these benefits are delayed sets Missouri back as it strives to compete in this global economy.  It is our hope that the Missouri Supreme Court will hear this critical case in an expedited manner.”