Experts say that building wind farms is the easy part. Far bigger complications arise when it comes to building transmission to distribute the energy produced — challenges that are on full display in Missouri.
With western-neighbor Plains states teeming with wind energy, and lots of demand for that power in population centers farther east, Missouri straddles a bit of a geographic crossroads with transmission in mind.
Physically linking that supply with demand is never simple thanks to both logistics and bureaucracy — as shown by Missouri’s continued rejection of the stalled Grain Belt Express transmission line, which would bring wind power from Kansas to Indiana and into the grid beyond.
Some people, including the developers of the proposed project, say the state’s failure to approve the line — and its policies that currently stifle similar infrastructure — is adding to an already-congested transmission bottleneck that has ripple effects beyond Missouri.
Though approved by the three other states along its path, the project has been held up by Missouri regulators invoking a controversial court ruling that says approval must first be given by each individual county along its path. Clean Line is challenging the ruling, and oral arguments on the matter were held Thursday at the Eastern District of the Missouri Court of Appeals in St. Louis.
Despite the complication, others say that transmission projects will ultimately find a way to bridge the west-to-east gap with or without Missouri — threatening to have the state miss out on the benefits, without a fix.
Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch