Construction of wind-energy transmission line to create Missouri jobs

January 31, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

JEFFERSON CITY • The company behind the Grain Belt Express Clean Line, a high-voltage transmission line through Missouri and Illinois, announced partnerships with suppliers in Missouri that will create new jobs in the state.

Clean Line Energy Partners, a Houston-based company, plans to build a high-voltage direct-current transmission line to transfer 3,500 megawatts of power generated by wind farms in southeastern Kansas, across Missouri and Illinois, to Indiana and farther east. The line would cut across the center of Missouri, north of Interstate 70.

The construction of the line would create hundreds of jobs and Clean Line announced today it will partner with companies in Missouri for materials to build the Grain Belt Express Clean Line, creating about 78 permanent new jobs.

Mike Downing, the state’s director of economic development, said the project would benefit Missouri by helping it increase renewable energy sources. About 500 megawatts would go to energy consumers in Missouri.

The increased demand for wind-energy created by the transmission line’s ability to transport power to customers farther afield will also help Missouri manufacturers in the industry, Downing said.

Michael Skelly, president of Clean Line Energy, said the construction would also benefit local suppliers and generate revenue for local areas.

“As an infrastructure investment, we will pay taxes for many, many years,” Skelly said.

Most of the new jobs will be created in Centralia. Hubbell Power Systems, a part of Hubbell Incorporated, will supply the assembly kits for the towers along the line. Bill Tolley, president of Hubbell’s Power Systems Group, said the opportunity would create both manufacturing, customer service and logistics support jobs in Centralia.

“We’re thrilled to have been selected,” Tolley said. “We are reinvesting in a generation of skilled workers in Centralia.”

Medium power transformers for the line will be built by ABB Ltd., the world’s largest supplier of power grids. The multinational company has a plant in Jefferson City but the about 20 new jobs will be added at the St. Louis location, which currently employs 175 people, according to ABB and Clean Line.

General Cable Corp., a Kentucky-based company, will potentially supply more than 23 million feet of high-voltage transmission conductors for the 750-mile long line. Roger Roundhouse, senior vice president for electric utility products, said the project will allow the plant to stay in Sedalia and require new investment at the plant.

“We see tremendous opportunity and meaningful opportunity in supporting the development of renewable energy,” Roundhouse said. “It’s good for the environment and it’s good for Missouri.”

Roundhouse also said General Cable had already reached an agreement for Noranda Aluminum to supply the aluminum rods for the project. Noranda has a smelter in New Madrid.

The route for the Grain Belt Express has not been finalized.

Skelly said input from local stakeholders is still being sought on where the line should go. Currently, there are four possible routes that are being looked at. The next step, in addition to choosing the line’s path, is to secure approval from the Missouri Public Service Commission as a public utility. That approval will be sought sometime in the next six months.

Construction on the line is projected to start in 2016.

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