The Missouri Public Service Commission discussed Tuesday a multi-state wind-powered transmission line proposal that could traverse Ralls County, and the project's opponents and proponents are reviewing what the future could hold ahead of a formal vote.

The Missouri Public Service Commission discussed Tuesday a multi-state wind-powered transmission line proposal that could traverse Ralls County, and the project’s opponents and proponents are reviewing what the future could hold ahead of a formal vote.

While the commission discussed the Grain Belt Express Clean Line case, the commissioners have not yet cast votes. Public Service Commission spokesperson Kevin Kelly said hearings like this one are open to the public. Before commissioners can formally vote, a regulatory law judge must draft an order related to the case. Once the judge creates the order, commissioners may discuss the order during subsequent hearings before reaching a vote, Kelly said.

Representatives from Clean Line Energy Partners were not pleased with the Tuesday discussion, and members of Block Grain Belt Express – an opposition group composed of landowners and farmers in Missouri – declared the hearing’s results a victory.

“We are disappointed by the Missouri Public Service Commissioners’ discussion earlier today. We will need to review the order in detail when it comes out to determine next steps for the case in Missouri,” a statement from Clean Line Energy Partners provided to the Courier-Post said. “We are currently assessing all existing authorities available to move the Grain Belt Express project forward. As a couple of the commissioners noted today, the Grain Belt Express Clean Line provides substantial public benefit to Missourians by providing low-cost clean energy, new jobs, and revenues to communities across the state.”

Block Grain Belt Express group members believe the commission members “have unofficially voted,” and that three commissioners opposed the project and two commissioners supported it, vice president Jennifer Gatrel said.

“We have the winning number on our side, which would be a flat denial of Grain Belt,” Gatrel said.

The proposed project would carry harvested wind energy from Kansas through Missouri to states further east. A converter station planned in Ralls County near Center would provide power for people in Northeast Missouri. The Ralls County converter is the only such station planned in Missouri.

When the commission casts a vote on the case, Clean Line Energy Partners would still have the opportunity to submit an application for a rehearing, subject to review by the commissioners. There isn’t a set time frame for commissioners to vote on the case, Kelly said.

Gatrel said Clean Line Energy could respond in one of three ways once an order has been voted upon: request a rehearing; reapply for a certificate of convenience and necessity for the project; or the most likely option, bypassing a decision at the state level and seeking eminent domain rights at the federal level through the Department of Energy.

Gatrel said she is encouraged by the commission’s discussions, which were motivated by public comments and grassroots support from Block Grain Belt Express group members.

“I think it’s looking like a win for Missourians,” she said. “The grassroots effort achieved a win against a billion-dollar company. It’s a win for Missourians who value the right to own property.”

The PSC received more than 4,500 comments during the public comment phase.

Kelly said the commission’s next agenda meeting is scheduled for Thursday. Tuesday’s discussion will be available via web broadcast this morning, on the Public Service Commission’s website: http://psc.mo.gov/.

Reach reporter Trevor McDonald at trevor.mcdonald@courierpost.com