Kansas regulators sign off on route for major transmission line

Grain Belt Express Clean Line LLC (Grain Belt), an affiliate of Clean Line Energy Partners LLC (Clean Line) of Houston, Tex., said the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) unanimously approved an order granting a siting permit to Grain Belt Express Clean Line to construct the 370-mile Kansas portion of a new 750-mile direct current transmission line.

The line will originate near Dodge City, Kans., and run north and east to the Kansas–Missouri border, the company said, adding, "The Grain Belt Express Clean Line will deliver low-cost, wind energy from western Kansas to Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and states farther east that have strong demand for affordable, reliable, clean energy."

The $2 billion project is expected to take several years to permit and could begin commercial operation as early as 2018.

Kansas’s wind resource has the potential to generate more than 80 times the state’s electricity needs, but wind development is limited by a lack of transmission. Like trains that carry grain harvested in the Midwest to market, the Grain Belt Express Clean Line will move wind energy from the grain belt of the country to markets with a strong demand for low-cost, clean power.

“We reached this milestone thanks in large part to the thousands of landowners and community members who provided input in the routing process,” said Clean Line President Michael Skelly. “We are pleased with the KCC order and grateful to the Commission for their careful consideration of our application and proposed route. This approval takes Kansas a step closer to further harnessing its tremendous wind resource, creating thousands of local jobs, and advancing its leadership in the clean energy economy.”

The transmission line and associated wind farms in Kansas will create thousands of construction jobs and hundreds of manufacturing and operations jobs in Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and the surrounding region. The project will also result in increased property taxes for schools and communities, reduced air pollution and water usage, and consumer benefits by delivering low-cost, clean energy.

“The Grain Belt Express Clean Line will allow Kansas to grow its wind industry for the benefit of western Kansas and the entire state,” said Joann Knight, Executive Director of the Dodge City/Ford County Development Corporation.

Grain Belt submitted the application and proposed route to the KCC in July, after working closely with landowners, local leaders, and state and federal agencies. More than 2,300 Kansans provided routing feedback at 14 public open houses, through letters, and over the phone. Clean Line used this feedback to help refine potential routes and ultimately select one proposed route to file for approval with the KCC. The KCC held four public hearings in August and collected written comments from the public.

Jim Hays, Conservation Projects Coordinator for the Kansas chapter of The Nature Conservancy, stated, “We have reviewed various routing options with Clean Line over the past few years, and in our view, the route selected avoids many key ecological features and will result in fewer impacts to the landscape and natural resources of our state.”

“I appreciate how Clean Line has sought input from landowners throughout this process and voluntarily offered a construction mitigation payment to the counties before construction. This project will have an economic impact to my county and the region,” said Commissioner Mike Cooper of Mitchell County, in north central Kansas.

Johnathan Hladik, Senior Policy Advocate for the Center for Rural Affairs, commented, “By offering the option of annual payments in response to landowner requests, Clean Line has taken another step forward in establishing positive, long-term relationships in communities that will host this project.”

To learn more about the Grain Belt Express Clean Line, visit www.GrainBeltExpressCleanLine.com.

Photo credit: Jeff Kubina, Wikimedia Commons

Related articles:

AWEA: Bringing wind energy to the mainstream, October 4, 2013
If you want more wind, build more transmission!, September 30, 2013
Wind development gets huge boost with cost allocation decision, June 25, 2013
Buffalo Dunes Wind Project: A lesson in export, affordability, and transmission, April 23, 2013
Despite flaws, DOE collaborative report shows more wind and transmission saves ratepayers money, January 23, 2013

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