Nixon backs Missouri power line for wind energy

Source: By SUMMER BALLEN, Associated Press • Posted: Thursday, June 30, 2016

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Gov. Jay Nixon said Wednesday he backs a proposed power line that would cut through Missouri for a multistate wind energy project, despite objections from landowners and concerns from state regulators.

Houston-based Clean Line Energy Partners agreed to what the Democratic governor described as landowner protections if it gets approval for the power line that would make some electricity available for state utility companies, Nixon said.

“With these new protections for landowners and millions of dollars in savings for consumers, the Grain Belt Express Clean Line is a good deal for Missouri,” Nixon said in a statement. “In addition to reducing energy costs, this $500 million construction project will also boost our economy and create good-paying jobs.”

The Grain Belt Express would cut from Dodge City, Kansas through northern Missouri and Illinois to a substation in Sullivan, Indiana.

Missouri is the only state that hasn’t approved the project. The Public Service Commission voted 3-2 last year against it, and Clean Line hasn’t yet reapplied.

More than 500 Missouri landowners are in the proposed line’s path, drawing criticism from some that it might lower property values and hurt agriculture.

Nixon said Clean Line agreed to offer the option of binding arbitration to resolve compensation disputes and avoid damaging to farmland. It also agreed to update land value assessments, pay the higher amount if land values decrease, and not cut promised compensation if the project gets approval.

Nixon said the company estimates it will pay more than $32 million to owners of land where the line is proposed to be built.