Power providers, legislators announce new Mark Twain Transmission route

Ameren and Northeast Missouri Electric Power Cooperative announced a new proposed route for the Mark Twain Transmission Project Monday in Palmyra, Mo. (Courtesy: Edina Sentinel)

A new plan and a new partnership have given new life to the Mark Twain Transmission Project.

As expected, Ameren Transmission Company of Illinois and Northeast Missouri Electric Power Cooperative announced Monday morning that the two plan to use rights of way from existing transmission lines, scrapping the original plan for the 100-mile line.

At a press conference in Palmyra, the two power providers joined local legislators in touting the proposed route, noting the contributions of Sen. Brian Munzlinger and Reps. Lindell Shumake, Craig Redmon and Nate Walker in encouraging the compromise.

Munzlinger said the process began in November of last year, when he spoke with Northeast Power CEO Douglas Aeilts.

“I don’t know about you, but I like electricity,” Munzlinger said Monday. “I think it’s a win-win. I think as people hear about the new plan, it’s going to be a great thing. It’s going to get a lot of support.”

The new proposal would use rights of way for Ameren Missouri’s 161 kV transmission line that runs from the Iowa border to Kirksville, and Northeast Power’s 161 kV line that runs from Kirksville to Palmyra. New rights of way would still need to be approved to connect the lines to new and existing substations in Kirksville and Palmyra, and the existing lines would need to be upgraded for the 345 kV Mark Twain line.

Ameren would front most of the cost for the new infrastructure, and split the maintenance costs with Northeast Power.

Aeilts praised the deal and his new partners in Ameren, saying that the collaboration comes at a good time for Northeast Power.

“Due to the age of Northeast Power’s current 161 kV line, we would need to replace the line in 10 to 15 years, which would cost approximately $30 million,” Aeilts said in a statement. “Working with ATXI allows Northeast Power to save a significant amount of money while making important infrastructure improvements on our system.”

But the partnership represents a break between legislators and chief opposition group Neighbors United. The organization made it clear during public meetings held last year that anything short of stopping the line’s construction would be an unacceptable compromise, and that does not appear to have changed.

“Neighbors United remains in litigation and remains opposed to the project as we feel it is not necessary and not in the best interest of the state of Missouri,” the group posted on its Facebook page Friday after news of the revised plan broke.

County governments must still approve the new route before it could proceed back to the Missouri Public Service Commission.

Before that happens, Ameren and Northeast Power will hold another round of open houses on the project, currently set for mid-June.

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