Renner Barsella, email@example.com
St. Louis, MO – The largest proposed energy project in Missouri’s recent history will become a reality. The Public Service Commission (PSC) voted to approve construction of the Grain Belt Express transmission line today. The project will create 1,500 direct jobs and generate $1.3 billion in economic activity during construction and over $17 billion in electric bill savings for Missourians during the life of the project. Once operational, the project is slated to save $12.8 million annually for nearly 40 municipal utilities throughout the state by delivering low-cost, reliable wind energy. The project will deliver a total of 2,500 megawatts of clean energy throughout Missouri – enough to power 1.6 million homes – while also delivering broadband to communities along the route. Further cost-savings may be possible for Missourians as more utilities may purchase the affordable energy this project will provide.
Throughout the process, the Sierra Club advocated for the project’s approval. Most recently, Sierra Club collected 200 petition signatures and coordinated people to testify in support of the Grain Belt Line, building on the organization’s previous community engagement during the first round of eight public hearings in 2016. The PSC approval followed well-vetted stakeholder input while clearing several legal and legislative challenges. One outcome of the legislative hurdles the project faced is a new law that makes it significantly more expensive to build future electric transmission lines that utilize eminent domain, but exempts oil and gas pipelines from such scrutiny.
The Grain Belt Express, had it been operational, would have saved electric utility customers in the surrounding area $300 million during Winter Storm Uri, which caused rolling blackouts and skyrocketing gas prices in western Missouri and Kansas. Looking to the future, the project is estimated to save Missouri electric customers $17.6 billion on their utility bills between 2027-2066. That’s serious money saved when the fuel is free. Additionally, due to reduced air pollution from burning fossil fuels, Missourians will save an estimated $7.6 billion on healthcare bills. The project owner estimates Kansans will save $1.2 billion on utility bills over 15 years while Illinois customers are expected to save a whopping $4.3 billion over 15 years.
A special thank you to Great Rivers Environmental Law Center for representing the Sierra Club during our legal intervention to support the Grain Belt Express.
The Sierra Club also wants to thank its community partners who supported this project, including but not limited to: 350 STL, A Red Circle, Elevate, Labadie Environmental Organization, Mid-Missouri Peaceworks, Missouri Coalition for the Environment, Missouri Ethical Society, Missouri Gateway Green Building Council, Missouri Interfaith Power & Light, New Northside Missionary Baptist Church, Pro-Choice Missouri, and the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom - St. Louis Branch.
Statement by Brian Smith, Missouri Organizing Representative for Sierra Club:
“Given the choice, I’d rather see Missouri enjoy clean wind and solar from Kansas than dirty coal from Wyoming or fracked gas from North Dakota. Not only does wind and solar energy benefit our environment and public health because there’s no air or water pollution, it saves Missourians money because the fuel is free. We don’t have to worry about high utility bills due to volatile fuel prices for coal and gas because of a polar vortex like Winter Storm Uri when we invest in fixed-price clean energy like wind, solar, energy storage, and energy efficiency. This project is important because it will increase the reliability of our grid while delivering more wind and solar energy to Missouri than what’s currently generated in our state.”
Statement by Sarah Rubenstein, Staff Attorney with Great Rivers Environmental Law Center:
“The approval of the Grain Belt Express line is great news for Missourians. At a time when many households are struggling to make ends meet, this project will help lower electric bills for families across the state. In reducing the amount of coal and fossil fuels our region will need to burn, the project will also minimize the related negative health impacts known to contribute to asthma, heart problems, and cancer for people of all ages. And perhaps most critically, as we see our planet suffer accelerating harms from the climate crisis, the line’s construction will constitute a small step to help our world survive into the future. We hope there will be many more such steps in our region to come.”
About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.