3 min read

Oct 27, 2023

Por Michael Polsky and Shashank Sane

Oct 27, 2023

líneas eléctricas

“There Can Be No Debate”: Historic U.S. Transmission Milestone Promises Energy Diversity, Affordability, and Reliability for Consumers In Missouri, Other States

Por Michael Polsky and Shashank Sane

Listening and responding to local stakeholders has significantly enhanced America’s largest line.
This month history was made. Until just two weeks ago, no long-distance electric transmission project in U.S. history had received siting approvals from four separate state utility commissions. On October 12, Invenergy’s Grain Belt Express – an 800-mile transmission line that will connect four vital U.S. grid regions, delivering 5,000 megawatts of affordable, reliable power to 3 million households – received the fourth state-level approval needed to make this project a reality. It came from the utility commission in Missouri, following prior approvals in Kansas, Illinois, and Indiana and marking an historic milestone for the industry.
Grain Belt Express will deliver billions of dollars in energy cost savings, provide a regional reliability backbone for the Midwest, open access to nearly limitless low-cost renewable energy, and enhance national energy security. Here is how the Missouri Public Service Commission acknowledged the need for and benefits of Grain Belt Express:
“There can be no debate that our energy future will require more diversity in energy resources, particularly renewable resources. We are witnessing a worldwide, long-term and comprehensive movement toward renewable energy. The energy on the Project provides great promise as a source for affordable, reliable, safe, and environmentally-friendly energy that will increase resiliency of the grid. The Project will facilitate this movement in Missouri, will thereby benefit Missouri citizens, and is, with the conditions set out below, in the public interest.” 
So what’s next? Now, the U.S. Department of Energy and major utilities considering the project must make timely decisions in order for this project to benefit millions of Americans across the heartland. For large utilities and energy users in the region, including multiple potential customers we have been in discussions with, we recognize projects like this are major capital decisions. They want a high degree of certainty prior to committing, and with this last state approval, Grain Belt Express now has a clear path to completion.
What did it take to get to this point in the process? As is common for large-scale energy infrastructure projects, the routing process for Grain Belt Express was challenging – involving critical input from local communities, state officials, and environmental groups. Yet following Invenergy’s acquisition of the project from a prior owner in 2020, one theme of ongoing stakeholder and customer input was resounding. A desire to see more power – and the energy savings and reliability that comes with it – delivered locally.
Invenergy listened, and then we got to work. To meet this demand for more local power delivery, we undertook extensive design, engineering, and public engagement efforts and put forward a plan to expand the capacity of the project and deliver more affordable and reliable power locally. What had been a 4,000-megawatt line delivering 500 megawatts at its mid-point in Missouri was re-introduced as a 5,000-megawatt line delivering 2,500 megawatts to Missouri. No line being advanced in the U.S. will move more renewable energy to market.
We also said we would develop and construct the project in two phases, allowing energy savings and reliability benefits to be delivered sooner. Invenergy’s plan to increase local delivery from Grain Belt Express has been backed by local community leaders, state business groups, environmental organizations, labor unions, manufacturers and contractors in the energy supply chain, and now ultimately by multiple utility commissions that affirmed the amended project serves the public interest of their states.
Beyond long-sought regulatory approvals, our team’s commitment to listening to and engaging with landowners has resulted in 95% of right of way acquisition being complete for the project’s Phase 1 main line. And we have announced multiple major equipment supply agreements this year with an HVDC technology partner and for Made-in-the-USA supply of the metallic conductor line the power will travel along.
Invenergy has been successful advancing projects like Grain Belt Express and others because we bring a relentless sense of urgency to projects with very long timelines. Even when the public and market need is so clear, the only way projects like this get done is by taking action day after day to push opportunities forward, or to create new opportunities where none existed before.
I'm looking at this based on macro-economic need, not just as a founder and CEO of a company in this business. The latest report from IEA is of the same opinion:
“We find that delayed action means prolonging reliance on fossil fuels, resulting in an increase in emissions and costs to society. An unprecedented level of attention from policy makers and business leaders is needed to ensure grids support clean energy transitions and maintain electricity security.”
Another report out the same week from National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine finds:
“Perhaps the single greatest technological danger to a successful energy transition is the risk that the nation fails to site, modernize, and build out the electrical grid.”
Transmission expansion – including both interregional and regional – is necessary for the U.S. to achieve grid reliability and resilience, access low-cost power necessary to support a strong industrial base, reach our climate goals and ensure national security. We can’t afford to wait any longer.

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