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Opponents of Grain Belt Express gearing up for another round  

Credit:  By Eric Dundon, Hannibal Courier-Post managing editor | Jun. 14, 2016 | www.hannibal.net ~~

With the anticipated refiling of controversial wind energy project Grain Belt Express, a grassroots organization dedicated to defeating the electric line continues to push back against the proposal.

Block Grain Belt Express is gearing up for another round against Clean Line Energy – the company behind Grain Belt Express, a power project that would deliver wind energy from Kansas east through northern Missouri, including portions of Ralls County.

“Once again, we will need the support of everyone in order to defeat Grain Belt and protect all of our property rights,” Block GBE spokeswoman Jennifer Gatrel said.

The Missouri Public Service Commission originally denied necessary permits for the construction of Grain Belt Express on July 1, 2015, finding the project presented not enough benefits to Missourians. That decision was upheld on appeal.

But earlier this month, Grain Belt announced a deal with 35 municipal utilities – including Palmyra, Monroe City, and Vandalia – to deliver electricity to those cities, representing a major breakthrough for the project in its potential case for construction.

Actual customers may be the key for Grain Belt Express to receive the go-ahead from the PSC.

The company’s first application for a high voltage direct current transmission line across the state was denied, when the PSC found “the evidence shows that any actual benefits to the general public from the Project are outweighed by the burdens on affected landowners.”

It is unclear when Grain Belt will refile an application with the PSC, but its continued efforts to secure customers in Missouri indicates a reapplication will likely come. Hannibal was also a target consumer for Grain Belt Express.

In late February, the Hannibal Board of Public Works announced it was curtailing power-supply discussions with Clean Line Energy, which had been trying to woo the city of Hannibal for its support of the project with promises of electricity for as little as 2 cents per kilowatt hour (kwh). Residential customers of the BPW are paying just under 10 cents per kwh.

With customers in line, Grain Belt Express has scheduled several meetings.

In return, Block GBE has scheduled several meetings throughout northern Missouri.

The group will hold a meeting at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, June 18, at the New London Lion’s Club building.

“We look forward to seeing everyone again. Thank you all for your ongoing support. With your help, we can defeat Grain Belt once and for all,” Block GBE President Russ Piscotta said.

A proposed substation planned near the town of Center would be the only one on the proposed path in Missouri, meaning electricity delivered to the 35 municipal utility partners – some as far away as Thayer, Mo., in extreme southern Missouri and Rock Port, Mo., at the northwestern tip of the state – would presumably enter the grid in Ralls County.

Block GBE will once again be represented pro bono by successful St. Louis attorney Paul Agathen, and will be raising funds for expert witnesses and expenses.

Source:  By Eric Dundon, Hannibal Courier-Post managing editor | Jun. 14, 2016 | www.hannibal.net

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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