KCC Approves Site Permit For Wind Energy Transmission Line

November 8, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – The Kansas Corporation Commission gave the green light Thursday to a high voltage transmission line for wind energy.

The Grain Belt Express path crosses 13 Kansas counties, from Ford County in the southwest to the Missouri border at Doniphan County in the northeast corner of the state.

The KCC approved an order granting a siting permit. In its decision, the commissioners cited economic benefits and the opportunity to further wind energy development.

Grain Belt express says the transmission line is a $900 million investment in Kansas, which could ultimately lead to a $7 billion investment in development and sale of wind energy. The company also says it would create 2,340 jobs during construction, with another 135 jobs to operate and maintain the line on an ongoing basis. They say there is also potential for thousands of additional jobs through construction and operation of related facilities.

Many northeast Kansas residents spoke out against the line, though, during the hearing process. Opponents said it would hurt property values and posed potential risks to health and the environment. Some also argued it would limit how they could use their land.

The KCC’s order is contingent on the company getting similar approvals in Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. They also said construction costs cannot be recovered from ratepayers.

Complete news release from the KCC:
Today, the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC or Commission) approved an Order granting a siting permit to Grain Belt Express Clean Line LLC (Grain Belt Express) to construct the Kansas portion of a 600 kV high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line, and an HVDC converter station and associated transmission facilities. The line begins in Ford County, Kansas, crosses 13 Kansas counties to the Kansas, Missouri border, and delivers wind energy from southwest Kansas to a point near Sullivan County, Indiana. The Kansas portion of the line is approximately 370 miles.

The Commission cited the short and long-term economic benefits to Kansas and the opportunity for further wind development and export in granting final approval. The Commission ruled that the proposed electric transmission line is necessary and the proposed route is reasonable. The transmission line represents an estimated $900 million investment in Kansas that is intended to enable $7 billion of investment in the development and sale of wind energy produced in southwestern Kansas.

In Kansas, the project is estimated to result in 2,340 jobs annually during the three-year construction period, and an estimated 135 jobs to operate and maintain the project on an ongoing basis. Additionally, construction of the associated wind facilities in Kansas is estimated to generate between 15,542 and 19,656 Kansas jobs, while operating and maintaining the wind farms is expected to generate 528 Kansas jobs.

The Commission stipulated that Grain Belt Express must obtain transmission line siting approvals from Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana state utility commissions prior to beginning construction on the Kansas portion of the line. Grain Belt Express is allowed five years from the date of the Commission’s Order to begin construction of the project in Kansas or will be required to reapply. The Commission further stipulated that the cost of the project cannot be recovered from Kansas ratepayers.

Grain Belt Express filed their siting application on July 15, 2013. Kansas Law (K.S.A. 66-178 and 66-1,179) requires the Commission to issue a final decision no later than 120 days after the application is filed. The Commission held four public hearings and notice was provided to affected landowners. In issuing their final decision, the Commission has a statutory duty to determine if the line is necessary and the proposed route reasonable.

A complete copy of the Commission’s Order is available at www.kcc.ks.gov, clicking on Docket Filings, and entering Docket No. 13-GBEE-803-MIS.

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