Proposed high voltage transmission line files with ICC

Source: By FarmWeek Now • Posted: Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Grain Belt Express Illinois map

A Chicago-based company formally asked state regulators July 26 to move forward on building an 800-mile transmission line that would carry renewable energy generated in Kansas across Missouri and end at the Illinois-Indiana border.

Invenergy LLC filed its application with the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) to construct and operate the Grain Belt Express Transmission Line, a 600-kilovolt (kV) high-voltage, direct current (HVDC) electric service transmission line.

The 93-page filing, which includes a detailed description of the $7 billion project, its route and timeline, is the initial step toward gaining approval from the state. The ICC has yet to schedule a prehearing to consider the filing.

“IFB will intervene in the ICC case just as we did when this project began in 2014,” said Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert Jr. “Back then, an appellate court agreed with IFB that Grain Belt Express was not a public utility, and it did not begin.

“IFB previously conducted landowner education meetings for our members along the proposed route. The meetings helped our members understand how to work through the approval and easement negotiation process to protect their property,” Guebert said. “We will continue to provide information to our members as the process continues.”

According to the petition, the company entered into an Agricultural Impact Mitigation Agreement (AIMA) with the Illinois Department of Agriculture in July.

Under the terms of that AIMA, Invenergy said it will “take appropriate steps to prevent adverse impacts to agricultural lands, including steps to prevent or mitigate soil erosion, soil compaction, damage to or interference with drainage tiles, and interference with irrigation systems, and to remediate such impacts should they occur.”

The decade-old project, which Invenergy acquired in 2018, already has approval from regulators in Kansas, Missouri and Indiana.

According to the filing, the transmission line is capable of providing 5,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity generated by wind turbines and solar fields in southwest Kansas to utility providers across the four states.

Specifically, the project would deliver up to 2,500 MW of power into the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) and the Associated Electric Cooperative, Inc. grids at a delivery point in Missouri, and up to 2,500 MW of power into the PJM Interconnection LLC grid at a delivery point in Indiana.

Altogether, the transmission line would deliver up to 14 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of energy each year into the MISO market and up to 15 million MWh of energy each year into the PJM market, according to Invenergy.

The company said those deliveries are enough to serve the annual electricity needs of 2.8 million homes and would be used to serve customers in Illinois.

Illinois would serve as the connecting point of the multi-state transmission line, which Invenergy is proposing would stretch 207 miles across the state through parts of nine counties.

According to the filing, the transmission line after crossing the Mississippi River would enter Illinois west of New Canton, in Pike County, then extend 207 miles southeast through parts of Scott, Greene, Macoupin, Montgomery, Christian, Shelby and Cumberland counties before transitioning at a converter station in Clark County.

The proposed Illinois route would consist mostly of a 600 kV HVDC transmission line, with three to eight miles of an 345 kV alternating current transmission line, the filing said.

The HVDC line would transition at the Clark County converter station, where a double-circuit AC line would then run two miles to a substation in Sullivan County, Indiana.

Landowners with property impacted by the potential route of the transmission line will receive notices from the ICC within the next 30 days.

The company said the Illinois portion of the transmission line will cost at least $1.25 billion and lead to 4,999 direct and indirect jobs at peak construction.