Grain Belt Express project to try again in Missouri

By Gary Scott on June 30, 2016 at 12:35pm

Folks in Scott and Greene Counties waiting for a multi-state electricity transmission to be built there could be waiting for a while.

There’s been a holdup with the Grain Belt Express Clean Line, which would carry wind power from Kansas to Indiana if it’s completed. But, the four-state power line is being held up in Missouri after getting approval in the other states.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced his support for the project yesterday after the Missouri Public Service Commission denied the Clean Line Energy Partners project last year. A company spokesman said last week they plan on re-applying with the commission soon.

Governor Nixon said yesterday that Clean Line Energy Partners has agreed to avoid damage to farmland, and pay more land that dropped in value after being re-assessed.

Jennifer Gatrel is a spokesperson for Block Grain Belt Express Missouri.

“Seven thousand people turned in comments, thousands of people went to public hearings. They have only six percent of their necessary easements. We are very, very strongly committed to stopping a private company from getting access to eminent domain authority. We think it’s completely outside the realms of what should be legal or morally justifiable,” Gatrel says.

“Despite all of this, Grain Belt has come back with the exact same plan. They’ve made, essentially, no changes to the route. They made no concessions to landowners that we asked for. And, they are just going to try to do exactly the same plan again.”

Gatrel says it appears Clean Line Energy Partners is going to force the group to fight for property rights in a lengthy legal battle that could take years.

“It’s really unfortunate, because they’re a massive corporation with huge investors, and we’re just normal people. And so, we have to sacrifice a lot to be able to protect what’s already ours,” she says.

“We’ve worked diligently in getting a law passed in Jefferson City that would protect property rights. We’re really hopeful that that can happen this year, because no one should have to do this for this length of time. I mean, we’re going in to almost three years now of us fending off this company,” Gatrel adds.

She also says allowing a private company to use eminent domain is a precedent-setting issue.

And, the opposition isn’t giving up in Illinois, either. An appeal was filed last week in appellate court over the certificate issued by the Illinois Commerce Commission. The state had rejected previous appeals back in December.