The case highlights a major roadblock in making renewable energy more mainstream: "Although converting wind and sun into electricity is increasingly affordable, it can be hard to get the regulatory and legal approval needed to transmit the power from remote areas where it's produced to the places where it's most needed," David Lieb reports for the Fort Wayne, Ind., Journal Gazette. "Other large-scale renewable energy projects in the Midwest, South and West also have faced denials or delays in transmission line approvals from federal and state regulators and courts." All the other states along the proposed path had already agreed to allow the Grain Belt Express Line, which would cost $2.3 billion and be one of the nation's longest transmission lines.
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Four out of the five commission members said they thought the new proposal was a good idea, but "felt compelled to vote against it because of a recent state appeals court ruling. The judges in that case said utilities must first get the consent of counties to string a power line across roads before state approval can be granted. Clean Line lacks approval from several Missouri counties where its line is opposed by local residents," Lieb reports.
The future of the project is uncertain. "The Houston-based wind energy company could appeal the denial in court. It could try to win support from counties and apply again to Missouri regulators. Or it could attempt to circumvent Missouri by seeking federal approval to build the line through the state, as it did for an Oklahoma-to-Tennessee power line after Arkansas regulators ruled against it in 2011," Lieb reports.