By a 4-1 vote, the Missouri Public Service Commission approved the company’s plan behind the construction of the Grain Belt Express to expand the capacity of the high-voltage power lines.
Invenergy Transmission’s plan would bring 2,500 megawatts of power to the state, which is five times the capacity approved in the initial plan. To accommodate this capacity increase, the construction of a 40-mile Tiger Connector line is necessary. Instead of proposing a new transmission line, Invenergy requested an amendment to the original plan. A new transmission line would have required consideration of the increased land prices for farmers.
The project would span 800 miles from Kansas to Indiana, primarily following a route in northern Missouri near Highway 36. Invenergy estimates that the new investment would amount to $7 billion, resulting in $7.5 billion in cost savings for Missouri and Illinois customers.
Landowners who opposed the project initially did so from a property rights perspective, arguing that eminent domain should not be used for a private company’s project. Other opponents believed the initial project wouldn’t offer significant service to Missouri residents.
Missouri Farm Bureau President Garrett Hawkins criticized the PSC, suggesting they are placing trust in a company with a history of not acting in the best interest of landowners. He expressed concerns about landowners along the proposed routes being compelled to sell their land at an inconvenient time and to an undesired buyer, leaving them with a transmission line they do not want.