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PSC approves sale of power project

State regulators approved a Chicago company’s bid to purchase a controversial wind energy project that would go through Buchanan County and other parts of northern Missouri.

The Missouri Public Service Commission granted Invenergy Transmission’s request to purchase the Grain Belt Express project from Clean Line Energy Partners of Houston.

The PSC’s decision, announced Wednesday, marked a setback for landowners who have fought the $2.3 billion project in county courthouses, the state legislature and the Missouri Supreme Court.

“The acquisition will expedite and promote the continued development of the Grain Belt Express Project, which will deliver low-cost wind energy to Missouri wholesale customers, who will, in turn, provide that lower-cost energy to their retail customers,” the commission said in a written statement Wednesday.

The PSC already had granted an application to build the power line, which is designed to transport Kansas wind energy primarily to larger population centers east of the Mississippi River. Landowners in Missouri sought to block the project with legislation that would have denied eminent domain to bring the high-power lines across northern Missouri, impacting more than 500 landowners.

The measure passed the House but died in the Senate. The project’s opponents, who have cited the impact on property values and questioned whether much of the power is destined for Missouri, were concerned about Invenergy’s proposed purchase because the company has $9 billion in assets.

Clean Line had few employees and lacked funds to complete the project, according to regulatory filings.