Grain Belt Express Gets KCC Approval

Grain Belt Express Gets KCC Approval

Regulatory approval means company can begin work on planning transmission line to export wind energy.

Grain Belt Express Clean Line, an affiliate of Clean Line Energy Partners LLC of Houston, Texas, has received approval from the Kansas Corporation Commission to conduct business as a public utility in Kansas. The regulatory approval marks a major milestone in Grain Belt Express Clean Line's efforts to export 3,500 megawatts of wind energy generation from western Kansas to Missouri and points farther east.

Grain Belt Express Gets KCC Approval

This regulatory approval is the first of two approvals that Clean Line will obtain in order to site and construct the Grain Belt Express transmission line project in Kansas. Grain Belt Express Clean Line plans to file a route in Kansas after evaluating environmental data and working with local leaders to identify the optimal route.

"The Grain Belt Express Clean Line will provide a vital boost in Kansas' efforts to lead the nation in renewable energy production," said Gov. Sam Brownback. "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 Grain Belt Express Clean Line transmission line project will make possible approximately $7 billion in new clean energy projects that will create thousands of jobs, increase state and local tax revenues, and deliver enough low-cost clean energy to power up to 1.4 million homes. The renewable energy will be transported to market through an approximately 700-mile overhead high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line. 

Momentum for the Grain Belt Express Clean Line is growing throughout Kansas. More than 200 county commissioners, wind developers, mayors, city administrators, local farmers, business owners, and other local leaders submitted letters to the Kansas Corporation Commission in support of Grain Belt Express Clean Line's regulatory application.

"It's clear that Kansas is serious about taking a leading role in shaping the future of the energy landscape in the United States," said Michael Skelly, Clean Line President. "The leadership that the Kansas Corporation Commissioners demonstrated by approving Grain Belt Express Clean Line's application will propel this project closer to powering 1.4 million homes with affordable, domestic wind power. We are pleased with the Commission's decision, and we are grateful to Governor Brownback for his continued leadership and to the hundreds of Kansans who have demonstrated their support for the project. Because of this support, Kansas is better positioned to build America's energy future."

The $7 billion in wind projects that the Grain Belt Express Clean Line will enable could directly impact Kansas manufacturing companies. The new wind projects cannot be built today because of the lack of transmission.

"The Grain Belt Express Clean Line will unlock demand for more than 2,000 new wind turbines in Kansas, creating and supporting real jobs and businesses throughout Kansas and the region," said Dave Pacyna, Senior Vice President, Power Transmission, Siemens Energy.  "With four wind facilities in the Midwest, including two in Kansas, Siemens is well positioned to supply these turbines and components from the region. Siemens has invested well over $30 million in wind power in Kansas, including the creation of approximately 400 jobs in manufacturing and project support in the state, knowing it is in the center of this growing industry. By approving this application, Kansas is demonstrating its commitment to creating new business opportunities and real American jobs in clean energy."

Kansas has one of the strongest wind resources in the country, but it is not producing to its full potential largely due to limited transmission access to a viable market. The Grain Belt Express Clean Line will provide a market for Kansas' wind energy and allow Kansans to realize the potential of their abundant wind resource.  

"We applaud the Commissioners for their decision," commented Barbara O'Neill, Director of enXco's Central Region.  "More than 13,000 megawatts of Kansas wind projects were waiting for the opportunity to connect to the transmission system last year, but only a fraction were built due in large part to lack of transmission. Transmission not only delivers electricity, but also delivers local economic benefits in the form of construction and long-term operations and maintenance jobs. The Grain Belt Express Clean Line will enable more than 3,000 megawatts of wind projects in Kansas to be developed, allowing clean energy to reach new markets and communities to enjoy the benefits of wind energy."

Clean Line is dedicated to treating local stakeholders and landowners fairly and respectfully. Over the past year, the project development team has met in person with more than 300 Kansans and Missourians and held 22 community leader roundtable meetings to get feedback on the project and gather environmental data. In June, Grain Belt Express Clean Line announced a collaboration agreement with the Nature Conservancy's Missouri Chapter (TNC). TNC is providing information, advice and feedback with respect to routing to Clean Line throughout the development of the Grain Belt Express Clean Line.

"Thanks to the KCC's decision, we are one step closer to seeing a tremendous investment in dollars associated with the transmission line and associated wind farms investments in our communities. This project will add thousands of jobs to our state." said Joann Knight, Dodge City/Ford County Development Corporation Executive Director. "We are excited about Clean Line's project and the potential of Kansas' abundant wind resource to reach new markets with a strong demand for the power.  We look forward to working with Clean Line to bring this project to fruition."

In February, Clean Line announced a collaboration agreement with WindPole Ventures to build a wind data network in southwestern Kansas to monitor wind at wind turbine hub-heights. Clean Line is currently monitoring the wind data to support its efforts to forecast utilization rates of the Grain Belt Express Clean Line.

Developing a project of this scale is a long-term undertaking, and Clean Line is fully committed to developing the Grain Belt Express Clean Line in an environmentally responsible and transparent manner.   

The $2 billion project is expected to take several years to fully permit and could begin commercial operations as early as 2017. Clean Line will continue to engage with local communities as well as state and national stakeholders throughout the project area as the development process moves forward.

For more information about the Grain Belt Express Clean Line, please visit www.grainbeltexpresscleanline.com.

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