Mark Twain Transmission Project receives final approval

The Adair County Commission approves the Mark Twain Transmission Project in September 2017, removing the final hurdle before the PSC could approve the CCN (Louis Finley/KTVO)

In a seemingly sudden move, the long-troubled Mark Twain Transmission Project was granted final approval by the Missouri Public Service Commission Wednesday.

In December, Neighbors United, the chief group in opposition to the line, came to an “understanding” with Ameren, and withdrew from the case.

Last week, the parties still involved with the case asked the PSC to approve the elusive certificate of convenience and necessity that the utility has been seeking since 2015. With approvals from each affected county in hand, the PSC approved the request Wednesday.

As part of the stipulation, Ameren agreed to stick to the newly mapped route that largely goes along existing easements, and if any changes were necessary, to negotiate in good faith with landowners. If no agreement can be reached, then Ameren must submit evidence to the PSC explaining why the change in route is necessary.

In its ruling, the PSC said the project met the five criteria to which it holds any essential project:

  1. There must be a need for service
  2. The applicant must be qualified to provide the proposed service
  3. The applicant must have the financial ability to provide the service
  4. The applicant’s proposal must be economically feasible
  5. The service must promote the public interest

“The Project is needed to integrate wind energy in Missouri and to assist Missouri public utilities in complying with Missouri’s Renewable Energy Standard,” the Commission said in a statement. “The Project will likely lead to reductions in Missourians’ ultimate electric rates as compared to rates that would be paid without the Project. Further, the Project will generate significant property tax revenues for the countries through which the Project will be built, and will promote economic development in the region.”

Ameren plans to waste little time in getting started on the project, which has already been delayed by the lengthy court process that forced it to essentially start over last year. The company said it plans to begin construction in April, with a targeted in-service date of December 2019.

“Approval of the Mark Twain Transmission Project is a significant step toward strengthening our region’s energy grid and delivering customer benefits,” said Shawn E. Schukar, chairman and president of ATXI, in a press release. “This project will deliver greater energy reliability, economic growth and improved access to clean energy sources for Missouri and its residents.”

The approval also came with the cancellation of a new round of public hearings that had been scheduled for February.

*An earlier version of this story said that the terms of the stipulation and agreement had been part of Neighbors United's exit from the case in December. The terms of the stipulation were only part of the agreement reached among the remaining parties in January, well after Neighbors United had withdrawn from the case.

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