The Missouri MPSC is considering blocking a project by a three to two vote. In all likelihood, the project lobbyists will find the last vote resulting in three to two in favor of the project. However, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch article appropriately notes that should the Public Service Commission reject the project, the transmission line developer can readily go to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Complain as we may, our Federal Government is pushing for two things. First, the use of non-fossil fuel energy is preferred. Second, domestically-created energy resources are favored. Given these two public policies, it is difficult to imagine that the transmission line will not be approved.
The issue is bigger than Missouri or the Grain Belt project in particular, said Mark Lawlor, Clean Line’s director of development. The country is trying to figure out how to reduce carbon pollution linked to climate change under new federal regulations, which many say will require a large buildout of transmission infrastructure.
“How do we get stuff built?” Lawlor said. “If the ‘no’ was because people didn’t like it, landowners didn’t like it, then how are we going to build transmission? It kind of goes beyond this one project.”
If the PSC does reject the project, Lawlor said Clean Line won’t give up. It could pursue federal eminent domain authority through the Energy Department, an approach it is pursuing in Arkansas after the state declined to approve another of its routes.
“These projects are too valuable and too much in demand (to walk away from),” Lawlor said. “We remain confident in their value and we’ll look at everything we can.”
At the same meeting, the PSC approved a 7-mile transmission project between Palmyra and the Mississippi River proposed by Ameren Transmission, the final leg of its 380-mile Illinois Rivers project across that state. It is scheduled to be complete in 2018