A company’s request to build a power line for a wind-generated energy project in several states, including Illinois through Shelby and Cumberland counties, appears unlikely to gain approval from a Missouri regulatory panel after most members spoke against the plan this week.
Houston-based Clean Line Energy Partners’ $2.2 billion Grain Belt Express would transmit electricity from Dodge City, Kansas, across northern Missouri and Illinois to a substation in Sullivan, Indiana.
A Clean Line executive said Wednesday that the potential rejection of the Grain Belt Express project by the Missouri Public Service Commission does not mean it’s dead in Illinois.
While supporters, such as the Sierra Club, have touted the project as supplying more environmentally friendly energy, the proposal has drawn criticism from landowners who say it could hurt farming and reduce property values where the power line is constructed.
Some of the Missouri commissioners expressed concern that it would be a more expensive form of energy. A majority of members on the Public Service Commission must vote to allow Clean Line to construct the line, and three of five members spoke against it. That means the project likely won’t muster approval when it comes up for a final vote, which could occur as early as a scheduled June 11 meeting.
Clean Line executive Mark Lawlor said, however, that a no vote doesn’t dash hopes for eventual approval, noting that an appeals process automatically kicks in.
“There’s always a chance to approve any decision of this nature,” Lawlor said.
While regulatory agencies have approved the Grain Belt Express line through Kansas and Indiana, the construction application for Illinois is also still pending.
Teutopolis-area swine farmer Phil Hartke hailed the possibility of the Missouri commission rejecting the Clean Line request.
“It’s great,” said Hartke, who wrote a recent letter to the editor to the EDN slamming the project. “The whole thing is a big boondoggle.”
The Dodge City-Sullivan line would run direct current after conversion from alternating current at both ends. Hartke thinks running the DC through the 710-mile line could cause stray current that could damage livestock.
“I believe DC is an unproven science,” he said. “The whole thing is a lousy idea, sort of like a 700-mile extension cord.”
Hartke said many people are uninformed about wind energy to begin with.
“Ninety-nine percent think wind energy is clean and free, and it is neither,” he said.
Lawlor said utility markets tell a different tale.
“Utilities are buying contracts for wind power,” Lawlor said. “At 2 cents per kilowatt hour, it is the cheapest form of energy that can be created. The wind sector would not be growing by leaps and bounds if it wasn’t cost effective.”
The Associated Press also contributed to this story.
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