© 2024 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

The Grain Belt Express power line gets final approval in Missouri

A row of wind turbines at sunset.
The Missouri Public Service Commission has approved the high-capacity transmission line to carry clean energy from Kansas through northern Missouri and Illinois despite landowners’ concerns.

Developers of a high-powered transmission line running through northern Missouri and Illinois say the project has all the necessary state approvals to begin first-phase construction.

Chicago-based Invenergy made the announcement after the Missouri Public Service Commission approved an updated plan last week. The roughly $7 billion project will bring clean energy from Kansas to an end point just inside the Illinois-Indiana state line. Along the way, it will deliver some power to communities in Missouri and Illinois.

Invenergy is increasing the capacity of the proposed line to the equivalent of nearly four nuclear power plants. The company says once complete, the Grain Belt Express should translate into $11 billion in energy cost savings over 15 years for customers in the Midwest and other regions.

The commission voted 4-1 in favor of the project Thursday, touting increased stability for the power grid, cost savings and other potential economic development benefits.

The Grain Belt Express will take power generated by wind turbines in Kansas through Missouri and Illinois to connect with other transmission lines.
The Grain Belt Express will take power generated by wind turbines in Kansas through Missouri and Illinois to connect with other transmission lines.

Commissioner Kayla Hahn voted against it, citing concerns of landowners and the difficulty in getting straight answers out of Invenergy.

“The company is very calculated in what it was saying to release the minimal amount of information,” she said during Thursday’s meeting. “And I can imagine, if that’s the same way they approached the landowners, that’s why the landowners are so upset with this particular company.”

The Missouri Farm Bureau remains opposed to the Grain Belt Express.

“The commission is putting a lot of faith in the company to do the right thing when they have a track record of failing to do so time and time again,” President Garrett Hawkins said in a statement.

Even though he voted for the project, Commissioner Jason Holsman wants Invenergy to improve some relationships.

“We want the landowners to be made whole and to be compensated justly, and we want the company to be responsive when the landowner feels that is not being taken care of,” he said during the commission’s public session.

Officials from Invenergy were not immediately available.

In a statement, the company says it has acquired 95% of the property easements needed in Kansas and Missouri.

Ivenergy said everything is on track to begin full construction in early 2025, pending federal permit approvals.

Wayne Pratt is the Broadcast Operations Manager and former morning newscaster at St. Louis Public Radio.