The Missouri Public Service Commission (MPSC) has approved Invenergy’s request to amend its existing certificate of convenience and necessity for the 800-mile Grain Belt Express: an electric transmission infrastructure project that will help move wind power through Kansas, Missouri and Illinois.
Invenergy says the decision is the last required state siting approval for significant enhancements to the project and provides the necessary certainty about power delivery to support ongoing and upcoming commercial contracting efforts.
Approvals secured this year from state regulatory commissions authorize Grain Belt Express to be financed and constructed in two phases. The project has acquired 95% of easements for the Phase 1 main line, between southwest Kansas and northeast Missouri.
Invenergy is increasing the line’s capacity to 5 GW, with 2.5 GW flowing to the line’s mid-point delivery location in Missouri – a fivefold increase in local delivery compared to the earlier project design.
“We are witnessing a worldwide, long-term and comprehensive movement toward renewable energy,” the MPSC’s order stated. “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.”
“Securing the necessary state regulatory approvals is another critical step toward Grain Belt Express bringing lower electric bills and greater reliability to consumers in Missouri and across the Midwest,” said Shashank Sane, executive vice president and head of transmission at Invenergy. “We thank the state leaders in Kansas, Missouri and Illinois who have thoughtfully considered the tremendous benefits of Grain Belt Express.”
Also this week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) acknowledged a request by Grain Belt Express to initiate a new open solicitation process to contract power delivery on Phase 1 of the line. As a merchant transmission project, Grain Belt Express enters into voluntary contracts for power delivery. The process, which could start as early as this year, would be supported by an independent consultant to assist in evaluating bids. In Missouri, 39 communities are already contracted for power delivery from the line from a prior open solicitation.
Grain Belt Express milestones that have taken place in the last year include the following:
- In December 2022, the U.S. Department of Energy began the federal environmental review for Grain Belt Express Phase 1;
- In January, Grain Belt Express selected Siemens Energy Inc. to supply the high-voltage direct current transmission technology for Phase 1 of the project;
- In March, the Illinois Commerce Commission granted Grain Belt Express its certificate of public convenience and necessity;
- In April, Invenergy Transmission announced a long-term supply agreement with Prysmian Group North America for up to 12,500 miles of overhead conductor cable through 2029 to supply Grain Belt Express and other projects;
- In June, the Kansas Corporation Commission granted an amended approval of the Grain Belt Express transmission project to allow for phasing.
Grain Belt Express is targeting to begin full construction as soon as the start of 2025, pending federal permitting approvals.