Missouri, Illinois business leaders cheer Grain Belt Express expansion
July 11, 2022 – The Associated Industries of Missouri (AIM), the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA), the Missouri Public Utility Alliance and other industry and community leaders joined Midwest-based Invenergy Transmission representatives for a press conference announcing the additional investment in the company’s Grain Belt Express transmission project.
The Grain Belt Express is being built to carry thousands of megawatts of Kansas wind power generated energy to places east, including Missouri and Illinois. Why is this transmission project necessary? First, many electrical plants using coal are having to shut down or severely cut their operations due to EPA regulations. This leaves a hole that must be filled in some way by other power sources. Also, it is reported that on June 10 the power grid operator covering Eastern Missouri and much of Illinois, Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), warned that summer power shortages may occur not only this summer but for years to come. The warning from MISO that the area is experiencing “increased risk of temporary, controlled outages …” is a major threat for both states. Invenergy Transmission will substantially expand power delivery to the region, enabling a projected $7.5 billion in local energy savings to more consumers across both states, at a time when reliability and affordability are major concerns for businesses and families.
“Grain Belt Express’s additional commitment to deliver more power to Missouri could not have come at a better time for businesses in our region who are facing increased risk for outages and higher energy bills due to more demand and less energy production,” said Ray McCarty, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Missouri. “Bringing more power to the region is the best solution to manage this urgent challenge and we thank Grain Belt Express for responding to those needs.”
While energy prices have historically been a major advantage to Missouri and Illinois, the region has been losing ground recently as energy infrastructure ages, baseload generation closes, and price pressures mount. Increased investment in energy infrastructure, particularly transmission, is key to both energy affordability and reliability.
“The price and reliability of energy is one of our largest concerns and will only be solved by pro-growth solutions like Grain Belt Express,” said Illinois Manufacturers’ Association President and CEO Mark Denzler. “Manufacturers use one-third of all energy consumed in the United States. You can’t have a strong business climate if manufacturers are worried about the reliability and cost of their power supply. There is no question, manufacturers and the communities they support across our region will see significant benefits thanks to this essential investment.”
The additional investment by Invenergy Transmission will now connect the Grain Belt Express transmission line with all major power grids that serve Missouri and Illinois, delivering the majority of project benefits to the two states, including across rural areas, small towns and cities.
“Before today’s announcement, Grain Belt Express was already going to save 39 hometown utilities and their consumers $12.8 million annually on electricity,” said JT Hardy, MPUA Board Chair and Sullivan City Administrator. “Today’s announcement expands these benefits to even more, helping rural Missouri’s competitiveness and small town economies throughout the state.”
To meet growing demand in the region and address reliability challenges, the additional investment by Invenergy Transmission will:
• Increase Grain Belt Express’s total capacity by 25 percent to 5,000 megawatts, meaning more power – and energy cost savings – delivered to Missouri, Illinois, and the Midwest.
• Increase delivery to Missouri to 50 percent of the line’s total capacity, benefiting Missouri and downstate Illinois energy affordability and reliability. (Originally Missouri was only to receive 500 megawatts.)
• Generate billions of dollars in new economic activity in Illinois and Missouri and millions in new taxes and revenue for local communities along the route.