After considering going “greener” by means of solar power, the Hannibal Board of Public Works is now entertaining another environment-friendly power option after being invited to potentially tap into the wind-generated energy of the Grain Belt Express.

After considering going “greener” by means of solar power, the Hannibal Board of Public Works is now entertaining another environment-friendly power option after being invited to potentially tap into the wind-generated energy of the Grain Belt Express.

“A new power supply option may be developing for us,” reported Bob Stevenson, general manager of the BPW, during Tuesday’s BPW Board meeting.

Stevenson reminded the Board that the proposed Grain Belt Express project, which would feature a high voltage DC transmission line carrying wind energy from western Kansas through Missouri to Illinois and Indiana, had been denied a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity in October by the Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC).

“The basis of that rejection was that Grain Belt has no business or utility status in Missouri,” he said. “The other states (Kansas, Illinois and Indiana) affected by their project have approved it. Grain Belt is therefore anxious to modify their proposal to gain PSC approval.”

Approaching municipal utilities about buying into the energy potential isn’t new for Grain Belt Express developers, Clean Line Energy Partners, LLC.

“Clean Line has been meeting with utilities of all types for the past several years,” Mark Lawlor, Director of Development for Clean Line Energy, said. “From investor-owned to coops and municipal utilities, we have been in regular communication about the low-cost clean energy Grain Belt Express will deliver to the local Missouri grid.”

The company did not elaborate on how many or which municipal utilities it has approached.

The Hannibal BPW is the largest municipal utility nearest to a proposed converter station near Center in central Ralls County. The converter station is the only one planned along the route in Missouri, and is needed to convert the wind energy into usable electricity for homes and businesses.

One of the biggest reasons the Missouri Public Service Commission denied the necessary certifications to Grain Belt was an expressed concern about the project’s potential benefits to Missourians. Despite that concern, Grain Belt is moving forward with the plan for only one converter station in the state.

“Only one converter station is needed in Missouri to deliver low-cost energy to the local grid,” Lawlor said. “This converter station will make energy available to any utility in the state through the existing grid.”

Grain Belt Express’ proposal modification includes a power supply option that has caught the BPW’s attention.

“They have offered some very attractive prices for wind energy to several municipal utilities in Missouri, Hannibal among them,” said Stevenson. “Much work remains to arrive at any final agreement, but the initial verbal offering is very much worth considering.”

It’s not known what exactly prices Grain Belt has offered.

“It is widely known the Grain Belt Express project can deliver renewable energy to Missouri utilities in the range of 3-4 cents per kilowatt hour,” Lawlor added.

Part of the Grain Belt Express proposal may include the option of buying into its substation that is planned near Center. Stevenson said if such an opportunity presented itself it would represent a “good investment to make,” adding that unlike a few years ago the BPW now has the room (financially) to undertake such an investment that he termed would be “pretty much risk free.”

The BPW is currently exploring the power supply market seeking agreements with a variety of power suppliers who can provide blocks of energy to the city starting in June of 2017, after its current contract with Ameren Energy Marketing expires.

If the BPW was to take advantage of Grain Belt’s offer, it would not impact Hannibal’s electrical needs in its next power supply contract.

“Any power from the Grain Belt Express will not be available until 2020,” said Stevenson.

But before that, the project must still receive approval from Missouri, the final hold out. Farmers and landowners along the proposed path have resisted the project, saying it is unnecessary and may infringe upon landowners’ with the use of eminent domain.

Rehearing requests on the project were filed with the Illinois Commerce Commission, the most recent body to approve the project.

Reach editor Eric Dundon at eric.dundon@courierpost.com or reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com