September 17th, 2020 — By — In News & Events
Missouri’s Grain Belt Express HVDC Transmission Line Project (Easements and Eminent Domain)
Submitted by OCA Missouri Member Paul Henry
Despite many ups and downs and much opposition from Missouri property owners, a proposed electric transmission line necessitating the acquisition of 206 miles of easements is still in the works to cross Northern Missouri. The massive transmission line was designed by Clean Line partners to deliver wind-generated energy from Kansas to the Illinois and Indiana border. The propose line is unique in the amount of energy it will carry – 600 kilovolts to deliver 4,000 mega-watts of power – and the type of electrical current – direct current. The project was initiated by an investment group known as Clean Line Energy Partners, but it was recently acquired by Invenergy, LLC based in Chicago, Illinois. The process for approval of the Project has a long history that is only summarized below:
- July 2015 – Rejected by Missouri Public Service Commission as not being in the public interest.
- August 2017 – Rejected by Missouri Public Service Commission for failure to obtain assent by counties.
- July 2018 – Missouri Supreme Court reverses Missouri PSC rejection.
- March 2019 – Approved by Missouri Public Service Commission
- December 2019 – Court of Appeals rejects landowner challenge to PSC approval.
- July 2020 – Court of Appeals rejects landowner challenge of transfer of project from Clean Line Partners to Invenergy, LLC
The state approval process for the Missouri portion appears to be completed. However, many hurdles remain. Invenergy still must obtain county approvals and the project does not have approval from Illinois, after an earlier approval was rejected by the courts on procedural grounds. In Kansas, the project was approved, but subject to Illinois approval.
Currently, Invenergy is seeking easements from Missouri landowners in the form of “options,” whereby the company will pay 20% of its offer up front and 80% at the actual time of construction. The offers also include promises to pay additional sums based on the number of transmission line structures and in the event of any lost crops. Publicly, Invenergy seeks to gain support for its project by announcing that it will include broadband data for rural areas and result in lower rates for Missouri electric consumers.
By operation of Missouri statutes, Invenergy possess the authority to exercise eminent domain authority to acquire easements that it is unable to obtain through negotiations with property owners. Efforts in the Missouri Legislature to strip it of its eminent domain authority failed during the 2019 and 2020 legislative sessions. In both years, legislation successfully passed in the House but failed to get approval from the Senate.
If you are an impacted property owner or simply want more information about this project, you can find OCA Member Paul Henry’s contact information here.