Although the Missouri Public Service Commission rejected for a third time the application by Clean Line Energy for the Grain Belt Express to transport electricity from wind generation stations in western Kansas across the state to Indiana where it would be wheeled to east coast utilities, the project is far from dead.

Although the Missouri Public Service Commission rejected for a third time the application by Clean Line Energy for the Grain Belt Express to transport electricity from wind generation stations in western Kansas across the state to Indiana where it would be wheeled to east coast utilities, the project is far from dead.

With $2.5 billion invested in the Grain Belt project, and $10 billion for the entire generating project invested to date, Clean Line Energy is not planning to walk away from the transmission line project as it several legal avenues available.

Mark Lawlor, vice president for development for the project, said that by the end of this week, Clean Line Energy will ask the PSC to reopen the case and reconsider its decision.

“We will ask commission for reconsider — the commission has 30 days to grant or deny for rehearing after that 30 days or deny,” Lawlor said. The next step would be to challenge the ruling in the Missouri Court of Appeals.

Lawlor said that PSC erred when it linked the denial of the Grain Belt project to a case in the Missouri Appeals Court involving Ameren Transmission Company of Illinois. That case involved the issue of assent (permission from counties to use rights-of-way to construct the project). The PSC approved the Mark Twain Transmission Project before Ameren gained the assent of the county commissions in the project’s path. Opponents of the project appealed, and won.

The Missouri Supreme Court let stand the Courts of Appeals decision vacating the approval, in essence saying a county’s assent is required before the PSC can render approval. That opinion dramatically shifted the conversation surrounding Grain Belt from one about necessity and benefit to one about the relevance of the Mark Twain decision on Grain Belt.

“We disagree with the premise,” that the case is related to Grain Belt Express, Lawlor said.

Moreover, Lawlor said that if the PSC decision stands, it sets what he calls a bad precedent for Missouri.

“The problem is … this has never been done before…seeing counties withholding permits as a way to block interstate projects or infrastructure that the PSC itself sees as in the public interest. Counties would get a great deal of authority that they never had before…and that is bad news for the state of Missouri and infrastructure,” Lawlor said.