Kansas Wind Power Delivered To the East: Clean Line Energy Gets Kansas Utility Status for Trans. Project

Renewable energy-focused transmission company Clean Line Energy received unanimous approval from the Kansas Corporation Commission this week to conduct business as a public utility, marking a step forward for the company’s Grain Belt Express Clean Line—a 700-mile overhead, modern high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission project that would move low-cost clean power from wind-rich Kansas to western Missouri and on to power-hungry Eastern states.

The development of the Grain Belt Express Clean Line would be a significant step in the efforts to address one of the biggest challenges facing wind power: the lack of available transmission, particularly lines that could tap some of the nation’s best wind resources. The project would run from western Missouri and into the territory of the PJM Interconnection, LLC, the grid operator for most of the Mid-Atlantic. According to Clean Line, the transmission project would make possible the development of approximately $7 billion in new clean energy projects that would create thousands of jobs, increase state and local tax revenues, and deliver enough clean energy to power up to 1.4 million homes.

“The Grain Belt Express Clean Line will provide a vital boost in Kansas’ efforts to lead the nation in renewable energy production,” said Kansas Governor Sam Brownback (R). “This project will bring well-paying jobs, generate revenue for landowners and local communities, and open Kansas’ abundant wind resource to new markets. Transmission projects like this are key in our mission to establish Kansas as not only the Wheat State but also the Wind State.”

The Kansas Corporation Commission granted the approval to Clean Line Energy affiliate Grain Belt Express Clean Line LLC. Parent company Clean Line Energy is busy these days, actively developing three other transmission line projects as well. The Plains & Eastern Clean Line would connect 7,000 MW of low-cost clean power from western Oklahoma, southwest Kansas, and the Texas Panhandle to Arkansas, Tennessee and other southeastern states. The Rock Island Clean Line will move 3,500 MW of renewable power from Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota to Chicago and other Eastern points. The Centennial West Clean Line will transport 3,500 MW of new renewable energy generation from eastern New Mexico and deliver directly to the southwestern U.S.

In October, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission approved Plains and Eastern Clean Line Oklahoma LLC’s request for public utility status in Oklahoma. “Bold energy infrastructure projects like the Grain Belt Express Clean Line and the Plains & Eastern Clean Line are what our nation needs to secure a new clean energy future,” said Clean Line President Michael Skelly. “Innovative ideas are crucial to diversifying America’s energy supply mix with low-cost clean power, resulting in the creation of new jobs.”

Carl Levesque is the communications editor at AWEA. This article first appeared in the AWEA Windletter and was reprinted with permission from the American Wind Energy Association.

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Carl is Editor & Publications Manager at the American Wind Energy Association, where has worked since 2006. At AWEA he oversees AWEA's online and print publications including the Wind Energy Weekly, Windpower Update, and other products. He has worked as a journalist in the energy industry as a staff writer for Public Utilities Fortnightly magazine and in the association sector as senior editor at Association Management magazine. He also has covered the home-building industry, where his areas of greatest interest were sustainable development and "smart growth," and has written articles for numerous other publications as a freelance writer. Carl received his B.A. from James Madison University and spent some time in New Orleans teaching as well as working with homeless youth.

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