Grain Belt Express files application in Missouri for proposed 206-mile line

Grain Belt Express Clean Line LLC, in an Aug. 30 application filed with the Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC), said that it is seeking a certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN) authorizing it to build, own, operate, control, manage and maintain electric transmission facilities, as well as an associated converter station in Ralls County, Mo.

Those transmission facilities would be located within Buchanan, Clinton, Caldwell, Carroll, Chariton, Randolph, Monroe and Ralls County in Missouri.

The company also said that the project involves building about 206 miles of a high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line that would traverse Kansas into Illinois and Indiana, as well as the associated converter station and alternating current (AC) interconnecting facilities, including an AC switching station and related AC transmission lines.

The line and converter station facilities are an interregional transmission project that would span the footprints of the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), Midcontinent ISO (MISO) and PJM Interconnection. The project, Grain Belt Express added, would provide economic and reliability benefits by delivering low-cost, wind-generated energy from western Kansas to load and population centers in Missouri and other states in the region.

Grain Belt Express noted that it has received the approval of the regulatory utility commissions of Kansas, Illinois and Indiana to proceed with the project, with Missouri being the only remaining state in which the company must obtain regulatory approval.

The company noted that it is filing the application in light of new and additional facts that demonstrate that there is a need for the project, and that it is economically feasible and in the public interest.

The application is submitted, consistent with the guidance provided by the PSC in its July 2015 report and order in Case No. EA-2014-0207, where it denied the company’s request for a CCN by a 3-2 vote. The PSC stated that if Grain Belt Express “gathers information it feels would make a better case for this project or a new project,” it “has the option to file a new application for a CCN.”

The company added that it has achieved numerous milestones since its previous application, most significantly entering into a transmission service agreement with the Missouri Joint Municipal Electric Utility Commission (MJMEUC), which has agreed to buy 225 MW of capacity from the project.

In addition to the transmission service agreement, Grain Belt Express said that it has advanced the project in other ways, including:

  • Entering into an HVDC transmission line development agreement with Quanta Services, under which it is providing development support, construction review, and engineering services for the project. The development agreement also contemplates that Quanta will enter into a contract to serve as the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor for the project. Quanta has specified that its affiliate, PAR Electrical Contractors, will lead the construction of the project
  • Offering up to 500 MW of bi-directional service from the Missouri converter station to PJM, of which MJMEUC has agreed to buy 25 MW, with an option for another 25 MW. That service will allow Missouri utilities an additional means to earn revenue from off-system sales of excess power. Previously, Grain Belt Express had only offered transmission service from the project’s Kansas converter station to Missouri
  • Developing a construction plan that outlines the scope, methods, durations, and resources required to build the project
  • Preparing a more detailed compliance plan, consistent with NERC standards and certification requirements for transmission operators
  • Advancing the interconnection process with SPP, which includes completing the necessary studies to sign an interconnection agreement with SPP and ITC Great Plains
  • Receiving a certificate of public convenience and necessity last November from the Illinois Commerce Commission
  • Adding Bluescape Resources Company as an investor in Clean Line Energy Partners, the ultimate parent of Grain Belt Express
  • Conferring with the commission’s staff regarding appropriate inputs to production cost modeling of the wholesale power market impacts of the project
  • Revising certain aspects of the proposed route of the project as a result of comments by landowners and others collected during public outreach sessions in 2016, as well as during the 2014 case
  • Establishing a landowner protocol that recognizes and respects the interests of landowners; the protocol provides landowners with the ability to elect binding arbitration to determine easement compensation
  • Performing updated county-wide market data studies with more recent land valuation information to determine the average per acre value for specific land types in each county
  • Creating a decommissioning fund to be used in the remote event that Grain Belt Express must dismantle, demolish or remove all of the project’s facilities and structures
  • Developing a Missouri agricultural impact mitigation protocol to avoid, minimize and mitigate impacts to cropland and other agricultural resources in Missouri

Of the Grain Belt Express Clean Line Project, Grain Belt Express said that the project is an approximately 780-mile, overhead, multi-terminal ±600-kV HVDC transmission line and associated facilities that will collect more than 4,000 MW of low-cost, wind-generated power in western Kansas. The project will deliver 500 MW into Missouri and 3,500 MW into Illinois, Indiana and states farther east, the company said, adding that the Missouri converter station will have bi-directional functionality, allowing Missouri utilities the opportunity to sell up to 500 MW of excess power into the energy markets operated by PJM. Grain Belt Express estimated that the total cost of the project will be about $2.35bn, with $525m of that estimate attributable to the portion of the project to be located in Missouri.

Grain Belt Express said that it will pay for the costs of the development, construction and operation of the project, and will recover these costs by selling transmission service to wind generators and load-serving entities that use the line.

In Missouri, Grain Belt Express said that it proposes to build the approximately 206-mile portion of the HVDC line on a route that crosses the Missouri River south of St. Joseph and continues across the state in an easterly direction to south of Hannibal in Ralls County, where the HVDC will cross the Mississippi River into Illinois.

The project will interconnect with the Ameren Missouri system in Ralls County along the Maywood-Montgomery 345-kV AC transmission line, which connects the Maywood 345-kV substation in Marion County with the Montgomery 345-kV substation in Montgomery County. That connection, the company added, will be made via a single 345-kV circuit line from the converter station to a new AC switching station tapping the Maywood–Montgomery transmission line. The Missouri portion of the HVDC Line, the converter station in Ralls County, and the associated AC transmission and interconnection facilities are referred to in the application as the Missouri facilities.

During 1Q15, Grain Belt Express initiated an open solicitation process for customers to subscribe for capacity on the project, under FERC requirements, the company said, adding that to date, 11 shippers submitted 3,524 MW of requests for capacity to the project’s 500 MW delivery point in Missouri.

“The results of this open solicitation demonstrate a strong need for the new service that the project will provide,” the company said.

Noting that easements will be procured from landowners before construction, the company said that the elements for a voluntary grant of an easement are threefold. For instance, Grain Belt Express said that it will offer an easement payment equal to 110% of the average fee sales in the applicable county.

Among other things, the company said that construction of the project is scheduled to begin as early as 2018, with completion expected to occur by 2021.

In an Aug. 31 order, the PSC said that any person or entity wishing to intervene in the matter is to file an application by Sept. 14, and a procedural conference is to be held on Sept. 28 in Jefferson City, Mo.

The primary owners of Clean Line are National Grid USA subsidiary GridAmerica Holdings; ZAM Ventures subsidiary Clean Line Investor; and Bluescape subsidiary Clean Grid Holdings. National Grid is a subsidiary of National Grid plc.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3286 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares was TransmissionHub’s chief editor until August 2021, as well as part of the team that established TransmissionHub in 2011. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial from 2005 to 2011. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines.