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MPUA Announces Legislative Success on Green Belt Express

Post Date:06/21/2019 9:00 AM

wind-turbines12-thumbnail3The Missouri Public Utility Alliance (MPUA) announced in May it had been successful in derailing legislation that would have halted projects such as the Grain Belt Express (GBX) transmission line.  Kirkwood Electric is a member of MPUA and was part of this successful legislative effort.  MPUA said in a press release that 39 local municipal utility project participants would benefit from GBX. “With a clear path forward, the GBX project expects to bring more than 1,500 jobs and $500 million in infrastructure investment to the state,” MPUA said in its statement.

What is the GBX Transmission Line?

The Grain Belt Express (GBX) Clean Line transmission line is a 780-mile overhead direct current (DC) transmission line designed to deliver 4,000 megawatts of low-cost wind power from western Kansa to Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and other neighboring states that have a strong demand for clean, reliable energy.  The 4,000 megawatts of low-cost, clean power is enough energy for 1.6 million homes based on average electricity consumption figures.  The transmission line operates at direct current because this is the most efficient and cost effective technology to move large amounts of power over long distances.  DC current has lower electricity losses and uses less power space compared to alternating current (AC) lines.

How will it lower costs for Kirkwood?

Kirkwood has signed up to a long-term deal to receive power from a wind farm in Kansas that will be delivered over this transmission line.  The price for that power is 30% lower than the current price Kirkwood currently pays for power.  This new deal is estimated to save Kirkwood Electric $1 million/year on its purchase power costs.  Kirkwood’s 25 megawatt share is enough energy for ½ of Kirkwood’s energy supply or 5,000 homes.

The wind energy delivered by the transmission line will put downward pressure on wholesale electricity prices because it will be cost competitive with other sources of generation.  Residential, commercial, and industrial customers in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and states farther east are likely to benefit from the increased market competition.  This market competition especially benefits Kirkwood because Kirkwood purchases about half of its energy from the market. 

Why is this good for the environment?

The wind energy delivered by the Grain Belt Express Clean Line will allow other generators to run less and burn less fuel by eliminating the need for the equivalent amount of energy to be derived from fossil fuels, thereby reducing pollution. The Grain Belt Express Clean Line is estimated to reduce carbon dioxide pollution by 14 million tons per year, nitrogen oxides pollution (a contributor to smog) by 10,000 tons per year, and it will reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide (a precursor to acid rain) by 22,000 tons per year.  Big cuts in emissions will improve respiratory health, reduce hospital admissions and cut down on days lost at work due to sickness.

The wind energy delivered by the Grain Belt Express Clean Line will reduce water withdrawal from lakes and rivers by 4 billion gallons per year. Because thermal plants require a large amount of water to cool and power steam turbines, displacing nonrenewable generation saves a tremendous amount of water.

What are some of the other benefits associated with the Grain Belt Clean Line Project?

It is estimated that the Grain Belt Express Clean Line will create more than 5,000 jobs to construct the transmission line and wind farms and more than 500 permanent jobs to maintain and operate the wind farms and the transmission line. The Grain Belt Express Clean Line will create employment opportunities in many sectors including manufacturing of turbines, structures and conductor, construction, and hospitality.

This new transmission line will make possible approximately $7 billion of investment in renewable power projects that could not otherwise be built due to capacity or energy carrying  limitations of the existing electric transmission grid.  The wind farms made possible by the transmission line will support the manufacturing of new wind turbines and enable significant financial contributions to local communities through employment opportunities, direct government payments and landowner payments.

The Grain Belt Express Clean Line is a $2.3 billion electric transmission line project that will create a new link between abundant renewable energy resources and areas with strong demand for power.  Each of the counties that host the transmission line will benefit from increased tax revenue, which can be used for schools and roads, and many other public services. 

To learn more about the Green Belt Express, please visit their website.

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