- The Missouri Supreme Court has sided with Clean Line Energy Partners, concluding that state regulators incorrectly applied a precedent in their decision to reject the Grain Belt Express transmission project last year.
- In rejecting the project, the Public Service Commission turned to a controversial case that indicated developers must get pre-approval from counties that would be impacted.
- The high court held that the PSC's reliance on that case was "in error," and sent the case back to the commission for further consideration. The proposed 780-mile transmission line would move wind energy from western Kansas to utilities and customers in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and neighboring states.
Regulators were wrong when they opted to rely on a Western District Court of Appeals decision that blocked an Ameren Transmission Co. line last year, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous decision.
"To the extent [the Ameren case] suggests consent from every would-be affected county is required before the commission can grant a line CCN, it should not be followed," the justices determined, referring to certificates of convenience and necessity. The case was remanded to the PSC to determine if the project is necessary.
Missouri was the final approval needed for Clean Line to move ahead with the project, but the company was waylaid at the PSC for years. In 2015, the commission concluded Missouri consumers did not need the additional energy that would be brought to the state.
Kansas, Illinois and Indiana have already approved the project. Clean Line says it plans to privately finance the $2 billion transmission project.
The difference between Grain Belt and the Ameren cases is the kind of certificate that was requested. Issues in the Ameren proceeding centered on an "area certificate," which would give a utility permission to serve an area, but the utility filed a "line certificate." Clean Line is seeking a "line certificate" which authorizes construction.