The Missouri Public Service Commission denied a crucial certificate for a multi-state wind-powered transmission line proposal that would pass through Ralls County if built.
Commissioners voted 3-2 on Wednesday to deny a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity for the Clean Line Energy Partners Grain Belt Express Clean Line proposal, Missouri Public Service Commission spokesperson Kevin Kelly said. Supporters and opponents of the $2 billion proposal prepared to pore through each paragraph of the commission’s order to determine what the future might hold.
Commissioners assessed specific criteria for the decision to grant or deny the certificate: there must be a need for the proposed service and it must “promote the public interest”; the applicant must be qualified to provide the proposal and possess the financial ability to complete a proposal that is economically feasible.
The commission determined that Clean Line Energy Partners demonstrated its qualifications and financial ability related to the proposal, but the commissioners decided the proposal did not satisfy the remaining stipulations.
“In this case the evidence shows that any actual benefits to the general public from the Project are outweighed by the burdens on affected landowners. The Commission concludes that GBE has failed to meet its burden of proof to demonstrate that the Project as described in its application for a certificate of convenience and necessity promotes the public interest,” according to a Missouri Public Service Commission written release.
Clean Line Energy Partners representatives told commissioners about the proposal’s “enormous benefits” to Missouri, including potential jobs, annual tax revenue for counties in the proposed path and meeting future EPA clean energy requirements, Director of Development Mark Lawlor said.
“There appears to be some confusion by a majority of commissioners about the benefits of this project to Missouri,” Lawlor said.
Clean Line Energy Partners would review the Public Service Commission order carefully to determine possible options for the future of the project.
“We feel like the project is too important to the state of Missouri to not pursue a way forward,” Lawlor said.
Wind on the Wires – a St. Paul, Minn.-based nonprofit organization of groups related to the wind energy industry – saw considerable potential for the project as well.
“The PSC’s decision today is a huge missed opportunity to provide low-cost clean energy to the Heartland and to create the jobs and economic development that comes along with wind development and transmission projects like the Grain Belt Express, Wind on the Wires Executive Director Beth Soholt,” said.
But opposition groups were encouraged by the Wednesday decision, including Block Grain Belt Express – a group of Missouri farmers, landowners and residents who oppose the project.
“The commissioners apparently believed that the proposed line is not needed by the citizens of Missouri,” Block Grain Belt Express Vice President Jennifer Gatrel said. “Grain Belt does have additional options it might pursue. We, however, are confident that we can succeed in preserving what appears to be today’s decision at the Public Service Commission.”
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