The Missouri Public Service Commission on Wednesday unanimously denied a second request by a Houston-based energy firm to build a high-voltage, wind-powered transmission line across northern parts of the state.
Clean Line Energy Partners of Houston had filed its application seeking approval for construction of the line in August of 2016. The company, over the past few years, has been proposing to build the 780-mile direct-current line.
Opponents had decried the plan, saying it would harm rural land values and result in health issues for humans and livestock.
The PSC had denied a first application by Clean Line in 2015.
In issuing the order, commission members said in part that the company had failed to prove that it had first obtained all necessary consent from counties along the project’s proposed route for road crossings. The PSC cited a Missouri Western District Court of Appeals decision in a separate, but recent, case pertaining to a proposed transmission line in northeast Missouri with regard to obtaining county-level permission.
The power line would ostensibly run from wind farms in western Kansas through Missouri and Illinois to Indiana, where it would then connect with a power grid for eastern states. All the other states along its route already have granted approval to the $2.3 billion project.
It’s not clear whether Missouri’s decision will kill the project.
The wind energy company could appeal the denial in court. It could try to win support from counties and apply for a third time to Missouri regulators. Or it could attempt to circumvent Missouri by seeking federal approval to build the line through the state, as it did for an Oklahoma-to-Tennessee power line after Arkansas regulators ruled against it in 2011.
Opponents hailed the commission’s decision, while supporters said the state would miss out on a vital opportunity into future economic and energy development.
“This is a huge victory for the impacted property owners and property rights,” said Russ Pisciotta, president of Block Grain Belt Express-Missouri.
Caldwell County Presiding Commissioner Bud Motsinger said he has tried to represent the opinions of residents on the issue.
“This is an example of community involvement protecting the future of Caldwell County,” he said.
The commission’s ruling specified that absent the lack of approval from counties, the project still would benefit Missouri’s public interest and the state at large.
“This decision directly impacts the many Missouri companies who stood ready to construct the line and the components in Missouri factories,” Clean Line said in a statement of reaction.
“The PSC’s decision to deny approval of the project, despite the clear public benefits, sends a clear message that investors contemplating new infrastructure projects should not come to Missouri,” said Michael Skelly, the company’s president. “We will review the order in detail to determine next steps for the project. We are currently assessing all existing authorities available to move the ... project forward, including but not limited to legal appeals.”
The Missouri Joint Municipal Electric Utility Commission said it plans to confer with Clean Line in evaluating the state’s decision.
“This project provides a major benefit to the state that should not be ignored,” a statement read.