Company gets key federal OK for transmission line

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Associated Press

Posted on May 13, 2014 at 10:32 AM

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A Texas company that is proposing a $2 billion, 730-mile high-voltage line that would funnel power from wind farms in western Kansas to out-of-state sites has received key federal approval to start negotiating agreements to sell capacity on the line.

Houston-based Clean Line Energy still needs to get regulatory approval in Missouri for the Grain Belt Express project, which will link Kansas wind farms with utilities, load-serving entities and clean-energy generators in Missouri, Illinois and Indiana, The Hutchinson News reported (http://bit.ly/1giBt4F ).

It recently secured approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to start negotiating deals to sell capacity on the line, which the company estimates eventually will transport power for 1.4 billion households annually.

"FERC's jurisdiction is pretty much limited to making sure that the process of selling transmission rights is open and transparent and non-discriminatory," said Mark Lawlor, director of development for Clean Line Energy. "To make sure we aren't building lines to give some competitors an advantage that others don't have access to."

Company officials don't expect the line to go into commercial operation until 2018, but with FERC approval the company can begin talks with potential customers, Lawlor said.

The exact method for selling capacity on the line or how it will be priced hasn't been determined, he said.

In the meantime, the company continues to work its way through state regulatory processes, he said.

The Kansas Corporation Commission awarded Grain Belt Express a siting permit for the project in November, and the company filed an application in March with the Missouri Public Service Commission to be recognized as a utility in that state.

"We don't have a procedural schedule, but we expect to see something in the next week or so," Lawlor said. "It should put us in line to have state approval lined up by the end of 2015. In that time frame, we'll start the process of selling capacity. It will be a multi-step process."

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Information from: The Hutchinson (Kan.) News, http://www.hutchnews.com

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