A map of the study corridor for the project. Detailed and state-specific maps can be found here.
The Grain Belt Express transmission line will be developed by Clean Line Energy in order to increase rural economic development, creating both construction and operation jobs, as well as significantly decreasing pollutants by millions of tons.
The project will develop transmission infrastructure that will make possible billions of dollars of investments in new renewable energy projects, which couldn't otherwise be constructed because of limitations in the existing grid. Stronger transmission links between regions will help build a more reliable electric grid, and low-cost renewable energy will mean lower prices for customers and businesses.
This direct current line will offer a lower carbon footprint than the traditional alternating current variety, boosting efficiency and requiring smaller easements.
Click here for a video that further explains this project.
The proposed line will be developed to deliver 3,500 megawatts of renewable energy from western Kansas to southeastern Missouri; continuing on into Illinois, Indiana, and areas that have a high demand for reliable, clean energy.
The path will run through the north central portion of Kansas. The western converter station would be constructed near Spearville, while the eastern converter is proposed for St. Francois County, which is south of St. Louis. The line will span 550 miles, with about 300 of those miles in Kansas. From there the line will continue into Illinois and Indiana, linking to a new substation in Sullivan, IN. The line will then link to distribution systems serving cities in the PJM territory.
Many of the public meetings Clean Line has held are devoted to finding a route that works for all stakeholders. A formal or finalized route will be available once the public meeting period has concluded.
Clean Line is currently hosting public outreach meetings throughout Kansas and Missouri. For Kansas,regulatory approval, siting and permitting will take place, and a final route will likely be proposed in the summer of 2013. In early November 2013, the Kansas Corporation Commission approved the preferred route for the project, but gave Clean Line five years to acquire approval in other states.
Clean Line will secure customers to invest in the line and finalize land acquisition between 2013 and 2014.
In Missouri, Clean Line proposed its preferred route in March 2014, with hearings scheduled for August and September. Clean line also filed with the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) in April 2015, with a decision expected in 6 to 8 months.
Construction of the line is expected to take place as early as 2016, and the line could be in-service by 2018. To learn more about the construction process, click here.
Clean Line submitted an application for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) to the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) in March 2011. This will enable Clean Line to be a public utility, and subject to additional approvals, to site, construct, own, operate, and maintain bulk electric transmission facilities throughout Kansas. Approval was granted in December 2011.
Clean Line intends to file an application under the Kansas Electric Transmission Line Siting Act (KSTA), in order to permit the siting of the line. The proposed route will likely be filed through the application to the Kansas Corporation Commission in the summer of 2013. Clean Line will also apply for a Certificate to Construct and Operate Regulated Facilities.
The Missouri Public Service Commission requires applicants to obtain a certificate and declare the commencement of actual construction activities. Clean Line will file its application to the Missouri Public Service Commission in late 2012. The Army Corps of Engineers will examine river crossings for the line to ensure that the line will not damage any levees or protected areas. The Missouri PSC also announced in early 2015 that Clean Line would need to obtain a letter of assent from the commissioners of the eight counties the line would pass through.
A small portion of this line will enter Sullivan County, Indiana. Because of this Clean Line will also have to apply to the Indiana Regulatory Commission to become an Indiana utility. Clean Line filed for public utility status in November of 2012, and was approved by the Indiana Regulatory Commission. Clean line must also file in Illinois with the ICC before they can begin construction.
Clean Line selected a route corridor that parallels an existing Westar transmission line in Kansas, and applied with the Kansas Corporation Commission for approval of the route. The notice of public comment and viewing is available here. The KCC held a series of four open house meetings in August to provide a forum for landowners, and approved the preferred route in November 2013. Clean Line is currently reviewing input from several open house meetings before seeking approval in Missouri, and a route has yet to be drafted in Illinois. This was conditional on Clean Line receiving approval from regulators in other states.
A bill proposed in the Missouri House (HB 2092) would change the availability of electric utilities in the state to use eminent domain. In March 2015, staff for the Missouri PSC recommended that the commission not approve certificates for the project.
In May 2014, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved Clean Line's application to sell transmission service to customers. With the approval, Clean Line can sell transmission capacity to potential customers.
Clean Line will consider stakeholder input to refine and eliminate potential routes and determine one proposed route, as well as alternatives.
Currently Clean Line is in the very early stages of engaging landowners and stakeholders, but acknowledges that the public must be directly involved in determining the best route for the transmission project. In May 2011, Clean Line held invitation-only community leader roundtable meetings, and public meetings will be held later this year. Throughout various open house gatherings, Clean Line has also made considerable effort to engage landowners and seek feedback on all proposed routes.
Clean Line is also making a point to work closely with the community. Following a model similar to that used in developing the Rock Island project, Clean Line is inviting local businesses and community leaders to sessions designed with the explicit purpose of helping communities learn more about the project. These meetings are not required by statute, unlike those held in conjunction with regulators. In many cases this allows local businesses to learn about a potential role for their operation during project development, helping Clean Line achieve the goal of using as many local parts and services as practicable. It's estimated that the project could create as many as 2,340 jobs.
Working with communities and landowners in Missouri, Clean Line has adopted suggested alterations to the line to help refine the project route, as well as bypass several residences.
Clean Line held a round of these meetings in Kansas in January and February of 2013, inviting thousands of landowners that were in the planning corridor for the line. An estimated 2,200 people attended the meetings, according to Clean Line. Some of the primary concerns expressed by landowners at the meetings were the amount of property tax revenue that would come from the project, and the impact that the line would have on land--both for agricultural operations and wildlife habitats. Currently, similar meetings are beginning to occur in Missouri, and are planned for Illinois.
For many, it's welcome news that Clean Line has agreed to work alongside the Nature Conservancy to find the most environmentally benign route available. The 5,000 expected jobs and additional work for local businesses, including local contractors who will have an opportunity to participate in the construction process have also been welcomed by many communities. For others, the project is a cause for opposition. Businesses like Siemens, a wind turbine production company with a location in Hutchinson, will benefit greatly. As will local governments, who welcome the more than $1 million in property taxes paid over a forty year period for each mile the line crosses. It is also estimated that the project will create 500 operational jobs once it comes online in 2018.
Clean Line will hold open houses in the summer of 2013 to look for construction partners for the project in Missouri. Clean Line has obtained public utility status in Kansas, and is currently seeking the same in Missouri. In summer 2013, the developer will also release the proposed route for the Kansas portion of the project.
For those directly impacted, concerns remain. Many desire pertinent information such as the expected size of the towers used, the required distance from homes and other structures, whether potential health risks will be highlighted, and whether landowners will be subject to eminent domain. Other concerns revolve around the amount and structure of landowner payments, the effect that the line will have on the price of land, the damage that may be done to county roads, and if the transmission line will remove certified organic and other statuses from land. Some are also concerned about the 10 year tax abatement that the project receives according to state law, but the developer has noted that when the abatement ends the project will generate a large amount of revenue. Some opposition groups have formed to protest the Grain Belt line, similar to efforts organized in opposition to Clean Line's Rock Island project.
Westar Energy has asked to intervene in the case, expressing that they aren't opposed, but simply want to make sure that the line is built in such a way that it will decrease the likelihood of outages for customers. Marshall County, KS will file to intervene in the project as well, and discussed filing for discovery on the cost of burying the line and what would happen if this direct current project were to take out an alternating current line. Commissioners noted that opposition within the county and limited support was the reason for filing the intervention, mentioning health concerns and questions of economic welfare. Some opposed landowners want their local counties to file injunctions on their behalf, but this is not an option for county commissioners.
Instead, they offer to send letters voicing particular concerns while different regulatory bodies examine the project. Some county boards, like the one representing Shelby county, acknowledge that projects like this one are one of only two ways that counties can raise money. The board remains neutral, due to hearing opposition from county landowners. The Board of the Missouri Farm Bureau voted to act as an intervener in the project in April 2014, also stating their opposition to the project, noting their concerns over eminent domain usage.
The owner of an oil company located in Kansas has also voiced concerns over the project, claiming it would essentially end some of his production leases because of the route. The County Commissioners of Caldwell County in Missouri sent a letter to regulators, noting that they have not approved of the project, and urging the Public Service Commission to not approve the project. Other county commissioners in Missouri have voiced support for the line, based on the compensation that landowners would receive for easements.
A group called CLEANR has formed to oppose the project, and support litigation against Clean Line or the Kansas Corporation Commission. The Kansas Farm Bureau authored a piece asking for siting of the line to be limited to section lines, appropriate damage restoration, annual payments to landowners, and several other concerns and suggestions they had for the project.
Clean Line has put forward a memorandum of understanding with two Illinois counties, informing them of their intentions and of payments that Clean Line would offer. They are currently proposing a voluntary $7,000 annual per mile payment to Illinois counties, as many do not have a tax on transmission lines. The agreement would go into effect when the line is officially in-service, and last for 20 years after that date, unless amended. Clean Line has also said that if the county levies taxes that will require additional payments, they will still provide a voluntary payment to the county, but that their total contribution to the county would still total $7,000--paying whatever the tax requirement, and then a voluntary payment on top of this, all of it totalling $7,000. If taxes exceed $7,000, Clean Line would make no voluntary payment to the county on top of the taxed amount.
A group called Coal Free Mizzou is collecting signatures for a letter of support that they intend to send to the Missouri Public Service Commission. They hope to collect 1,000 signatures by the end of March, showing the PSC that they value the project for it's potential to start moving Missouri away from coal-generated electricity. The Missouri chapter of the Sierra Club has also voiced support for the project. The city council of Columbia, MO has noted that the renewable energy provided by the project could help them meet the energy mandate set for the city.
A Missouri real-estate agent notes that according to an article published in the Journal of Real Estate Literature, the presence of transmission lines does not have a significant effect on property values. "The Effects of Electric Transmission Lines on Property Values" examines several different cases ranging from 1964 to 2009, finding that drops ranged from 2-9%, and that values often returned to normal over time.
Clean Energy Potential:
The Grain Belt Express will connect some of the best wind resources in the country to regions that have a greater demand for power, thus enabling more than 3,500 megawatts of new wind energy projects to be built. Many wind farms in Kansas will be constructed as a result of this endeavor, with an estimated 2,000 new turbines being built because of the project. While new projects capable of connecting to this line have been proposed, projects already in the development phase are now being sold for a significant profit to companies working to capitalize on this opportunity. The line would also provide enough energy to Missouri to power 200,000 homes.
Clean Line is sending a request for information to Kansas wind farms to determine what the demand for capacity is like in the state. Similar requests have been sent to other states, and will help Clean Line identify potential generators that will require their services. Wind energy developers in western Kansas have replied to this request, estimating that projects they hope to build would total 13.5 gW in wind energy capacity for the area that would be served by the Grain Belt Express project.
Clean Line estimates that over $7 billion of new wind projects will be needed to meet demand created by this project. The line will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by over 12 million tons each year, which is equivalent to removing more than 1.7 million cars from the road. As a result of the project, Missouri made it in the top 10 rankings for states with the most clean energy job creation. About 78 permanent jobs would be created in Missouri as part of the project, involving industries that will construct materials used in infrastructure projects.
Clean Line Energy maps out details May 13, 2015
Electric line supporters state their case May 11, 2015
Central Illinois Group Fights Wind Power Line May 8, 2015
Public input sought on Clean Line path May 6, 2015
Power-line developer outlines proposed landowner payments April 28, 2015
Power Play: Landowner Rights vs. Eminent Domain April 23, 2015
Coalition changes tactics in clean energy effort April 23, 2015
Clean Line Energy announces Grain Belt Express route April 13, 2015
Grain Belt Express developers submit plans to Illinois April 13, 2015
Needs exceed limit of project April 4, 2015
Open solicitation shows demand for GBE Clean Line April 3, 2015
Clean Line receives 20GW in applications March 31, 2015
US wind developers flock to access new HVDC line March 30, 2015
Pike County Farm Bureau opposes power line March 24, 2015
Grain Belt Express receives unprecendented 'second chance' March 23, 2015
County backs away from supporting Grain Belt March 23, 2015
Developer readies routes for major transmission line March 20, 2015
County postpones Grain Belt decision March 20, 2015
Grain Belt Clean Line Project Given Pre-Emptive Blow March 18, 2015
Landowners learn steps to stop energy line March 17, 2015
Grain Belt project gets thumbs down from PSC staff March 13, 2015
Landowners wary of energy line proposal March 13, 2015
Regulatory staff recommends denying Grain Belt project March 11, 2015
Ameren, others prepare grid for wind energy March 8, 2015
Transmission line backers explain project March 6, 2015
Grain Belt Express meeting wraps up in Pittsfield March 6, 2015
Grain Belt Express set for next phase March 5, 2015
Grain Belt Express Hosts Public Meeting March 5, 2015
Electricity transmission line plan on schedule March 4, 2015
Clean Line Energy submits proposed route for power line March 2, 2015
Residents Hear Details of Transmission Line Proposal March 2, 2015
Power transmission line opponents rally March 1, 2015
Final public meetings set for electric transmission line February 23, 2015
State seeks more Grain Belt data February 19, 2015
Grain Belt Express meeting in Pittsfield February 5, 2015
Grain Belt Express Hosts Public Meeting February 5, 2015
Residents air concerns about Grain Belt Express February 3, 2015
Clark Co. gets a look a proposed power line February 2, 2015
Company Hoping to Bring Low-Cost Energy to IL and IN February 2, 2015
Landowners to get pitch for wind-power superhighway January 30, 2015
Route for massive transmission line being firmed January 28, 2015
Grain Belt Plans Early Meeting In Raymond Feb. 3 January 26, 2015
Shelby County Residents Say "No" to New Transmission Line January 24, 2015
Opposition Group to Clean Line Energy Partners Emerges January 23, 2015
Clean Line solicits 3.5GW capacity for Grain Belt Express January 21, 2015
Open houses set on Grain Belt Express January 16, 2015