The U.S. Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office will hold six public “scoping meetings” starting in January as it prepares the Environmental Impact Statement for the Grain Belt Express Transmission Line Project which would pass through Barton County, the agency announced last week. All meetings are open to the public and free to attend.
These include four in-person and two virtual meetings in January and February, including two sessions from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4-6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, at Corinthians Hill Event Center, 464 NE 20 Ave., northeast of Great Bend.
The other meetings opportunities include:
• 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023, virtual meeting on Zoom (us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_NOQzgumNTpOAIL5UoLVIeA).
• 5-6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, virtual meeting on Zoom (us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_D619NGe1TGqMH0fcHx5SSA).
• 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4-6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, Dodge House Hotel and Convention Center, 2408 W. Wyatt Earp Blvd., Dodge City.
• 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4-6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, Municipal Auditorium, 201 W. Rollins St., Moberly, Mo.
• 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4-6 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, Fairview Golf Course, 3302 Pacific St., St. Joseph, Mo.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the goal of the meetings is to consider the environmental impacts associated with providing potential financial assistance (a federal loan guarantee) to Grain Belt Express LLC, for construction and powering up of Phase 1 of the Grain Belt Express Transmission Line.
About the project
Phase I of the project consists of an approximately 530-mile-long high-voltage direct-current transmission line, between Ford County and Monroe County, Mo.; two HVDC converter stations; a 1,000-foot alternating-current (AC) transmission line from the HVDC converter station at the terminus of the Ford County HVDC transmission line to an existing substation; and an approximately 40-mile AC transmission line from the HVDC converter station at the terminus of the Monroe County HVDC transmission line to an existing substation and a proposed substation, both in Callaway County, Mo.
Invenergy, Chicago, Ill., is the owner of the line to carry wind-generated energy to states farther east.
“Those changes mean Kansas will see $1 billion in cost savings for energy consumers over 15 years,” said Dia Kuykendall, director of public affairs, transmission, for Grain Belt. “Construction of the line and enabled generation will also bring $8.1 billion in economic activity and more than 19,000 direct jobs.”
The line will deliver 3,500 megawatts of wind energy.
The proposed transmission route runs west of Great Bend and north, following U.S. 281 to just south of Russell, where it will jog east of that city. The transmission lines will run through private property.
The project dates back a decade when the company first approached Barton County officials with the idea.
In 2019, the Kansas Corporation Commission unanimously extended Grain Belt Express’s certification as a transmission-only public utility with an approved route and a permit to construct the approximately 380-mile Kansas portion of the project.
In 2019, the KCC also approved Invenergy Transmission’s acquisition of the project from Clean Line Energy Partners based out of Houston, Texas.
Pending permitting approvals, full construction on Phase 1 is anticipated to begin by the end of 2024.
Phase II would extend the line from Missouri into Indiana, south of Terre Haute. A timeline has not been announced.
Permit requests in Missouri, Illinois and Indiana are in various stages of the approval process, according to the company.
Being studied are the:
• Potential effects that could occur on biological resources.
• Potential effects that could occur on physical resources and conditions, including air quality, soils, water quality, floodplains, wetlands, and other waters of the United States.
• Potential effects that could occur on socioeconomic and cultural resources, including environmental justice and Native American tribal resources.
• Proposed measures to avoid, minimize, or mitigate any adverse effects.
• Information on other current or planned activities in, or in the vicinity of, the proposed action and their possible impacts.
• Other information relevant to the proposed action and its impacts on the human environment.
Comments should be as specific as possible and should provide as much detail as necessary to meaningfully and fully informative. They should explain why the issues raised are important to the consideration of potential environmental impacts affecting the quality of the human environment.
Written comments and information are requested on or before Feb. 28, 2023.
For more information, contact Angela Ryan, U.S. Department of Energy, Loan Programs Office,1000 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, D.C., 20585. Call 240-220-458 or email Angela.Ryan@hq.doe.gov.