In this era when renewable power enjoys tremendous popularity, not all proposals are a slam dunk. Leaders sometimes have to take a stand to help get controversial projects over the hump. In June, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon threw his weight behind the controversial Grain Belt Express Clean Line transmission-line project that will provide his state with 500 megawatts of clean power, along with jobs, property tax revenue and lower rates.
Missouri is the last of four states where approval is needed for the Grain Belt Express. Kansas, Illinois and Indiana have already approved it.
This project is expected to create about 1,500 jobs during its construction, increase property tax revenue by an estimated $7 million in year one of the line’s operation, and save municipal ratepayers at least $10 million annually because of cheaper power. A group of 67 Missouri municipal utilities have already agreed to purchase long-term transmission service on the line.
In backing this project, Nixon also announced a number of commitments from the project intended to ease the concerns of landowners. The project will offer the option of binding arbitration to landowners to settle any disputes over compensation. It will establish a Missouri Agriculture Protocol and follow strict guidelines to avoid, minimize and mitigate any impacts to agricultural fields or activities.
The project will establish a fund to decommission the line when it is determined to be near the end of its useful life. A local firm will update land value assessments, and, in the event values have decreased because of commodity prices or any other reason, the Grain Belt Express will honor the higher of the values when compensating owners for their land.
The company estimates that it will pay more than $32 million to landowners who host the transmission line on their property.