By Jim Salter
ST. LOUIS, Missouri (AP) – The windy plains of Kansas could be a treasure trove in the nation’s effort to harness clean energy, but a major proposal to move wind-generated electricity eastward is running into a roadblock: Farmers who don’t want high-power transmission lines on their land.
Clean Line Energy Partners wants to spend $2.2 billion to build a 750-mile-long high-voltage overhead transmission line. Towers 110 to 150 feet tall, 4-6 per mile, would carry lines with power generated by Kansas’ modernistic windmill turbines through sparsely populated northern Missouri, through the cornfields of Illinois and to a substation in Sullivan, Ind. The exact route has not been finalized.
The idea is supported by environmental groups who say it is an opportunity to take a big step forward for an energy source that could reduce the nation’s reliance on fossil fuels and cut air pollution. Clean Line has four other transmission line projects in the works in the West and Midwest.
All five still require regulatory approval. If all goes right, the Kansas-to-Indiana line – called the Green Belt Express Clean Line – could be operational by 2018, said Mark Lawlor, director of development for Clean Line.
“There are a whole host of wind developers who are ready to go but they don’t have the ability to transmit the power,” Lawlor said. “But like an oil or gas field that’s remotely located, you’ve got to find a way to get that resource to market.”
Clean Line says the project will be an economic boon, with all four states seeing new jobs for construction and local companies providing things like parts and concrete. Lawlor said consumers would benefit, too, by the new source of power that would drive down electricity costs.
Kansas figures to benefit the most. Clean Line projects that more than $7 billion of new wind projects will be needed to meet demand created by the line, potentially creating thousands of new jobs in Kansas and making the state a hub of wind energy.1 2 next >>