The fate of renewable energy depends on critical transmission lines. It’s time for the Missouri Public Service Commission to get on board! 

Last week, Great Rivers attorney Sarah Rubenstein appeared before the Missouri Public Service Commission on behalf of Sierra Club on the matter of the Grain Belt Express Line, a proposed electrical transmission line that would carry electricity from wind farms in southwestern Kansas to Missouri and beyond. As one of the first major interstate transmission lines through Missouri, the project is critical to the deployment of low-cost renewable energy across the Midwest. To reach 100% clean energy generation by 2035, transmission capacity will need to more than double. As a recent article by the New York Times highlighted, proposed high-voltage transmission lines like the Grain Belt Express are the keystone of any decarbonization plan. 

Sarah, on behalf of Sierra Club, urged the Public Service Commission to approve the Grain Belt project. Supported by the testimony of leading electric transmission planning expert Michael Milligan, Sierra Club put forth three main arguments in favor of the Grain Belt project. (You can watch Sarah’s opening statement of about 4 minutes and Michael’s longer testimony here.)   

First, Sierra Club asserted that the Grain Belt Express Line will provide significant economic benefits to Missouri. Aside from the immediate economic benefits of building transmission, reducing transmission constraints will provide long-term economic benefits by allowing electricity to be more easily transported from its generation site to where demand is high. Recent studies have found that transmission system congestion costs regional electric ratepayers billions of dollars per year. In 2021, total congestion costs in MISO and SPP, two transmission operating regions of the electrical grid, reached 2.8 billion dollars and 1.2 billion dollars for consumers, respectively. By removing congestion and improving access to low-cost generation, the Grain Belt Express will lower costs for Missouri electric ratepayers throughout the state. 

With the Grain Belt Line, during storms, the available electrical grid may cover a larger area than the storm, enabling larger remote resources not affected by the storm to deliver to homes that otherwise might be without power. (Source: Grain Belt Express) 

Second, Sierra Club testified that the Grain Belt Express will improve grid reliability and resource adequacy in Missouri. Operational reliability will be enhanced by the stronger links between regions that will help the grid respond to disturbances, such as the loss of a large coal plant. Stronger connections with neighboring regions will also allow for greater contingency reserve sharing between regions, and for a better, more coordinated economic dispatch response as part of recovery from disturbance. In addition, bolstered transmission connections would allow for more coordinated resource planning across regions. Resource adequacy will be enhanced because utilities in Missouri will have broader access to projects when they plan to meet their reserve margin requirements. Both Evergy and Ameren have stated recent plans to build significant wind and solar plants in coming years, and the Grain Belt Line will provide a pathway to transport this generation. 

Finally, Sierra Club explained how the proposed project will improve grid resilience in Missouri. By linking together large geographic areas, the Grain Belt Express will help create a larger geographic electrical area, effectively making the grid larger than an extreme weather event that could threaten it, such as a storm. Doing so will enable remote resources not affected by a storm event to deliver energy to areas within a storm otherwise without power. This resilience becomes increasingly necessary as extreme weather events become more frequent occurrences.  

As Sarah’s opening statement on behalf of Sierra Club illustrates, the Grain Belt Express Line is critical for both the safety and economic well-being of Missouri and Midwest residents.  

Missouri’s electricity is among the most coal-intensive in the country. But renewable resources are available right next door. New wind farms in Kansas have the potential to provide a bounty of clean energy to consumers beyond the state. In order to access this renewable energy and transition away from coal, we must first be able to connect to it. The Grain Belt Express Line promises to bring the future of renewables to Missouri and the region.  

Your support makes this critical work happen. We’re riding the Grain Belt Express into the renewable-energy future. It’s time for the Missouri Public Service Commission to get on board! 

(Header image via Canva.)

Eva Kappas is a student at Brown University studying International and Public Affairs and Hispanic Studies. A native St. Louisan, Eva is invested in protecting the people and places she calls home. She is excited by the potential to transform our electrical grid with renewable energy. In her free time, she can be found running in Forest Park, writing short stories, and practicing Spanish with her friends and family.

Great Rivers Environmental Law Center is a non-profit 501(c)3 environmental law center providing free and low cost services to protect the environment and public health. They work to promote the public health by encouraging cleaner energy, improved environmental performance by businesses, and more efficient transportation and land use, thereby achieving cleaner air and water, and improving the quality of life in the region. Learn more at

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