Missouri Continues to Block Wind Power Transmission Line

Missouri is the only state to block the construction of a new power transmission line to bring cheap green power from wind-swept Kansas to where it is needed.

Parts of the U.S. are very windy and capable of generating massive amounts of the cheap green electrical energy needed to reduce carbon emissions and power the economy.

Getting the energy from the source to where it is needed most is the hard part. In some regions new transmission lines are required to carry the power and the Grain Belt Express Clean Line would deliver approximately 4,000 megawatts of low-cost wind power from western Kansas to Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and neighboring states. 

Missouri has been standing in the way of the Grain Belt Xpress and preventing its residents from getting cheaper power and the power getting from Kansas to Indiana and the grid beyond. The most recent denial came when the Public Service Commission invoked a controversial court ruling that says wind transmission lines must be approved by each individual county along their path.

Clean Line is challenging the ruling, and oral arguments on the matter were heard last week at the Eastern District of the Missouri Court of Appeals in St. Louis.

The transmission line has widespread support within Missouri, including from the Public Service Commission, which was forced to deny approval to the line even though it admitted it would benefit the residents of Missouri.

The reason the line has been blocked is a recent ruling from the Western District Court of Appeals on a  separate transmission line project which reversed 113 years of case law and ruled that counties must each approve any lateral infrastructure project that crosses a county road. As it stands, any county can block a pipeline, road, or power transmission line if it crosses one of their roads. However, in the case in question, the transmission line was approved by the five counties it crossed, mostly because existing right of ways were used.

The Grain Belt Express would require new rights of way and many land owners along the proposed route oppose the project. It is quite possible that one or more counties would deny approval to cross their roads due to local pressure even though those counties would benefit from lower power costs and cleaner air.

57.1% of the Missouri votes cast in the last presidential election were for Donald Trump, who claims that he doesn't believe in global warming and climate change and that it is all just a Chinese conspiracy. Trump favors coal and nuclear power, which are vastly more expensive and destructive. His policies have slowed the development of renewable energy and resulted in the loss of thousands of jobs in the solar power industry.

 Some of those opposed to the transmission line claim that it will displace communities, disrupt farm operations and bring economic disaster for some while others get rich. Their arguments are based partially on false assumptions and misinformation and they fail to mention the money landowners would be paid for the use of their land or the huge amount of money that would be saved from lower power rates.  

The issue will likely end up in the state Supreme Court, which could overturn the Western District Court of Appeals ruling.