Missouri Lawmakers Block Eminent Domain for Wind Energy Line Set to Cut Across West Central Illinois

By Benjamin Cox on February 25, 2021 at 2:19pm

Missouri lawmakers have blocked an eminent domain law, slowing up a wind energy power line that would stretch across West Central Illinois.

Missouri’s GOP-led state House has moved to ban the use of eminent domain for the Grain Belt Express Line that would have traveled from Kansas to Indiana. Lawmakers in a voice vote approved legislation that would prevent the use of private land for the power line without the landowner’s permission.

The Missouri legislature is trying to stop the project’s developers, Invenergy Transmission, from pursuing condemnation if landowners won’t sell easements, which means allowing a piece of their land to be used for the power line.

According to the Journal-Courier, the ban wouldn’t apply to transmission lines with energy substations every 50 miles, a provision designed to encourage companies to give Missourians greater access to buying energy off the line.

The 780-mile long, $2.7 billion energy project aims to carry wind-produced power from Kansas to Indiana. The Illinois portion would enter Illinois in Pike County and go through Pike, Scott, Greene, and Macoupin counties on its way to Sullivan, Indiana. Missouri lawmakers have been trying unsuccessfully for years to block the use of eminent domain for the project, which was approved by the state’s utility regulators in 2019.

Landowners in the path of the project line, along with the Missouri Farm Bureau, in 2019 lost a lawsuit against the line, which they argued would take some of their land without providing any benefit to them. The bill to stop eminent domain in the project needs another vote of approval in the House before it can move to the Republican-led Senate for consideration.