Grain Belt Express stalls in Missouri Supreme Court

10 months 2 weeks 1 day ago Tuesday, April 03 2018 Apr 3, 2018 Tuesday, April 03, 2018 12:53:00 PM CDT April 03, 2018 in News
By: Lydia Nusbaum, KOMU 8 Reporter
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JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri's highest court heard arguments Tuesday to decide if Missouri counties need to approve an energy line that would distribute wind energy across the Midwest. 

The Grain Belt Express Clean Line is a planned 780-mile transmission line that would deliver wind energy from western Kansas to customers in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and other states. The Houston-based company, Clean Line Energy Partners, wants to put the line across 206 miles of Missouri.

This would put lines through private properties, cutting through many Missouri farms. 

The Missouri Public Service Commission denied the project permission last year, saying the plan needed approval from the counties it cut through before continuing. The commission made this decision based off of an unrelated Missouri Court of Appeals Western District court case decision in 2017. 

However, this decision conflicts with the Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District Court's opinion, saying the commission does not need approval from these counties. This court sent the case to the Missouri Supreme Court to solve the conflict between courts. 

Attorney for Clean Line Energy Partners and former Governor Jay Nixon advocated for the court Tuesday to allow the company to build the line across the state. 

"For our state this would not only bring clean, renewable wind power to tens of thousands of Missourians, but also generate millions of dollars in savings on energy bills," Nixon said. 

Part of the argument comes down to local control. Atorney Paul Agathan, representing landowners opposed to the power line, is arguing the company should have franchise certificates, which means it would need approval from individual counties.

"When a county commission says 'Okay, we grant you the right to string your high voltage line across over or under the entire breadth of our county, that, that amounts to a franchise,'" Agathan said.

Opposition to the project does not want these lines cutting through private properties. 

In 2017, KOMU 8 News spoke with Marilyn O'Bannon, a farmer in Centralia. She said the lines would limit the types of crops her farm could grow, because of height restrictions. 

The court has not said when it would issue a ruling. 

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