Approval secured for US multistate 5GW transmission line

Invenergy Transmission’s 5GW Grain Belt Express transmission line transporting electricity from wind farms in Kansas to Missouri and Illinois to connect to the Indiana power grid has obtained final state approval.

The Grain Belt Express will transport wind energy from Kansas to Missouri and Illinois to connect to the Indiana power grid (pic credit: Feifei Cui-Paoluzzo/Moment via Getty Images)

The $7 billion, 800-mile (1,287km) electricity transmission infrastructure project secured approval  on 12 October from the Missouri Public Service Commission (MPSC) to amend its existing Certificate of Convenience and Necessity.

Under the revised plan, Invenergy increased the line’s capacity to 5GW, with 2.5GW flowing to its mid-point delivery location in Missouri, a fivefold increase from the 500MW originally proposed for Missouri in the earlier project design.

Having acknowledged the need for more diverse and renewable energy resources, the MPSC’s order said the project would facilitate this transition in Missouri, benefiting its citizens. “The project provides great promise as a source for affordable, reliable, safe, and environmentally friendly energy that will increase resiliency of the grid,” it said.

The MPSC’s green light marks the last required state siting approval for significant enhancements to the project. Invenergy said the move provides the necessary certainty about power delivery to support ongoing and upcoming commercial contracting efforts.

Grain Belt Express will deliver over $11 billion in energy cost savings over 15 years and enhance reliability for millions of homes and businesses in the Midwest and other regions, Invenergy added.

The project will be financed and constructed in two phases, enabling earlier delivery of energy savings and reliability benefits. It has acquired 95% of easements for the phase 1 main line, between southwest Kansas and northeast Missouri.

Harnessing Kansas wind

“To harness the tremendous potential of our wind power in Kansas, we need to stay focused on upgrading our grid and transmission infrastructure,” said Joann Knight, executive director of the Dodge City/Ford County development corporation. He added that the Grain Belt Express would help boost local economies and ensure the provision of domestic energy throughout the Midwest.

Matt Neal, vice president of grid solutions North America at Siemens Energy, the preferred supplier of HVDC transmission technology for phase 1 of the project, stressed that high-voltage direct current (HVDC) lines like Grain Belt Express are “a key component of the energy transition”, delivering clean power efficiently from where it is generated to customers that need it.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has acknowledged a request by Grain Belt Express to initiate a new open solicitation process to contract power delivery on phase 1 of the line.

As a merchant transmission project, Grain Belt Express enters into voluntary contracts for power delivery. The process, which Invenergy said could start as early as this year, would be supported by an independent consultant to assist in evaluating bids.

In Missouri, 39 communities are already contracted for power delivery from the line from a prior open solicitation.