Grain Belt Express HVDC Line Clears Final State Approval
800-mile Line Will Save Tens of Billions of Dollars; Support is Vast, but Missouri Farm Bureau is Opposed
Invenergy Transmission
Invenergy Transmission’s $7 billion, 800-mile Grain Belt Express HVDC line has secured the last of its state approvals with Missouri agreeing to the line’s expanded design.

Chicago-based developer Invenergy Transmission’s $7 billion, 800-mile Grain Belt Express HVDC line secured the final of its state approvals last week with Missouri agreeing to the line’s expanded design.

The Missouri Public Service Commission issued an Oct. 12 order granting the last of Invenergy’s state siting approvals. The 4-1 decision allows the developer to amend its existing certificate of convenience and necessity to complete the line’s more comprehensive design in two phases (EA-2023-0017).

Last summer, Invenergy Transmission said it planned to increase capacity of the Grain Belt Express to 5 GW by relocating and expanding the line’s midpoint converter station from 500 MW to 2.5 GW and adding a 40-mile delivery line, dubbed the Grain Belt Express Tiger Connector. (See Invenergy Announces Grain Belt Express Expansion.)

Missouri regulators said increasing the merchant line’s capacity, moving the converter station and adding the Tiger Connector will better interconnect “multiple regions to improve the reliability and resiliency of the grid for Missourians and national security.”

“This will help guard against price spikes and outages such as those experienced by Winter Storms Uri and Elliot,” the commission added. It said the HVDC converter can “serve as a critical grid asset to ensure grid stability.”

The Missouri PSC expects the line to result in $17.6 billion in savings to Missouri ratepayers and $7.6 billion in social benefits.

“There can be no debate that our energy future will require more diversity in energy resources, particularly renewable resources. We are witnessing a worldwide, long-term and comprehensive movement toward renewable energy. The energy on the project provides great promise as a source for affordable, reliable, safe and environmentally friendly energy that will increase resiliency of the grid. The project will facilitate this movement in Missouri [and] will thereby benefit Missouri citizens,” the Missouri PSC said.

Invenergy Transmission said the approval “provides the necessary certainty about power delivery to support ongoing and upcoming commercial contracting efforts.” The company will finance and build the line in two phases, starting with the first phase between southwest Kansas and northeast Missouri. Invenergy reports it has acquired 95% of the easements for the first phase.

Grain Belt Express required approvals from Kansas, Missouri and Illinois.

The Kansas Corporation Commission in mid-June granted a similar amended approval to expedite the Grain Belt Express in two phases. The KCC said amending its approval was in the public interest “because it expedites the benefits of the project to Kansas, while maintaining all of the safeguards.”

The Illinois Commerce Commission put its stamp of approval on Grain Belt Express in March.

“We thank the state leaders in Kansas, Missouri and Illinois who have thoughtfully considered the tremendous benefits of Grain Belt Express,” Shashank Sane, executive vice president and head of transmission at Invenergy, said in a press release.

“Now that Grain Belt Express has received every state approval needed to construct the first phase and 95% of the main line easements are already acquired, we are more confident than ever that 39 communities across Missouri will be able to receive clean, homegrown energy that will save millions in lower electricity costs each year,” Missouri Public Utility Alliance CEO John Twitty said in a statement.

Several other groups support the line, including industrial and manufacturing groups in Illinois and Missouri, clean power organizations, consumer advocates and a government office in Kansas dedicated to development.

“Lower energy costs are a major advantage for Missouri businesses, but it will only remain so if we can continue to increase our energy supply to meet demand and modernize the grid through state-of-the-art energy projects like the Grain Belt Express,” Associated Industries of Missouri CEO Ray McCarty said in a statement. “The approval of this transmission line and the ability to bring five times as much power to Missouri as originally planned will not only help us tap a significant source of domestic energy, but also help improve reliability and affordability for the Missouri business community.”

The Missouri Farm Bureau remains opposed to the line and expressed disappointment with the order.

In a statement, MOFB President Garrett Hawkins said the PSC’s decision dismisses the right of landowners and puts “a lot of faith in [Invenergy] to do the right thing, when they have a track record of failing to do so time and time again.”

“It is simply wrong that landowners along Invenergy’s proposed route are forced to sell their land at a time — and to a buyer — not of their choosing, to forever host a line they do not want,” Hawkins said.

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