- The decision by the U.S. Department of Energy to partner with an independent transmission developer to help advance a major transmission project aimed at bringing more wind energy to the Southeast could have implications for future transmission projects looking for similar assistance, including the Grain Belt Express line, the Hannibal Courier-Post reports.
- DOE chose to exercise its right under section 1222 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which gives the agency federal eminent domain power if rights of way cannot be obtained through negotiation, to ensure that Clean Line Energy Partners, the developer of the Plains & Eastern Clean line project, would be able to build despite its proposal being denied by Arkansas regulators.
- Clean Line Energy Partners is also the developer for the Grain Belt Express transmission project, which is experiencing a similar situation in Missouri and may turn to the DOE for assistance as well.
Building transmission lines across the United States is not for the faint-of-heart, evidenced by CLEP's struggles to gain regulatory approval for its projects. Studies have shown transmission lines are vital for the nation's renewables goals, but the regulatory hurdles and local resistence are often the main barriers to achieving that transmission network.
The Grain Belt Express line met with local and regulatory resistence in Missouri as the Missouri Public Service Commission didn't approve the project, but CLEP said it will file for a second hearing of its request to obtain the utility status it needs to pursue right-of-way, according to President Michael Skelly. CLEP has an inactive application to initiate the kind of partnership that the DOE enacted with the Plains & Eastern Clean Line, but has no present plans to reactivate it, Skelly said.
The $2 billion Grain Belt Express project would move 3,500 MW of wind energy based in Kansas to Missouri and other states served by the PJM Interconnection and the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, winning regulatory approval from Kansas, Indiana and Illinois. Local landowner resistence in Missouri has stymied the project for now, though the Sierra Club endorsed it.
P&E is a $2 billion, 705-mile transmission system that would carry 4,000 MW of wind energy and was approved by Texas, Oklahoma, and Tennessee regulators, only exercising its Section 1222 authority in Arkansas. Though the project met opposition by landowner groups, the Sierra Club chapters in all four states endorsed it.