Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Missouri Landowners Alliance v. Public Service Commission

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Third Division

December 17, 2019

MISSOURI LANDOWNERS ALLIANCE, et al., Appellants,
v.
PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION, et al., Respondents.

          Appeal from the Missouri Public Service Commission EA-2016-0358

          OPINION

          HONORABLE MARY K. HOFF JUDGE.

         Missouri Landowners Alliance ("MLA") and Eastern Missouri Landowners Alliance, d/b/a Show Me Concerned Landowners, Christina Reichert, and Missouri Farm Bureau (collectively "Farm Bureau") appeal the report and order issued by the Public Service Commission of the State of Missouri ("Commission") on remand granting Grain Belt Express Clean Line, LLC ("Grain Belt") its application for a certificate of convenience and necessity ("CCN") to construct and maintain an interstate electrical line and associated facilities. We affirm.[1]

         Procedural Background

         The procedural history surrounding this consolidated appeal is complicated and involves multiple parties and intervenors.[2]

         Relevant to this appeal, Appellant MLA was an intervenor in the matter before the Commission as were Appellants Eastern Missouri Landowners Alliance, d/b/a Show Me Concerned Landowners, Christina Reichert, and Missouri Farm Bureau (collectively "Farm Bureau"). Additional intervenors were Respondents Missouri Joint Municipal Electric Utility Commission ("MJMEUC") and Renew Missouri. Respondent MJMEUC is a joint action agency and a public and corporate body of the State of Missouri authorized by legislation to construct, operate, and maintain transmission and generation facilities for the production and transmission of electric power for its members, purchase and sell electric power and energy, and enter into agreements with any person for the transmission of electric power. MJMEUC has 68 Missouri municipal members, and Citizens Electric Corporation, a rural electric cooperative with more than 21, 000 members, is an advisory member. Together, MJMEUC's members serve approximately 347, 000 Missouri retail electric customers.

         Again, relevant to this appeal, Respondent Commission is the state agency responsible for the regulation of public utilities in Missouri and whose authority extends to the issuance of CCNs for the construction of electric plants within Missouri.

         Respondent Grain Belt is the limited liability company that applied for a CCN to construct and maintain an interstate electrical line and related facilities.

         Respondent Renew Missouri is a non-profit group focused on renewable energy and energy efficiency policy that submitted several filings in support of Grain Belt's application.

         Factual Background

         On August 30, 2016, Grain Belt filed an application with the Commission for authorization to build the Missouri portion of an electric transmission line which would run approximately 780 miles and which would move wind-generated energy from western Kansas to Missouri and other states farther east. Grain Belt filed its application pursuant to Section 393.170.1, RSMo (2016), [3] 4 CSR 240-2.060, and 4 CSR 240-3.105(1)(B).

         The proposed route of the line would cross 206 miles through eight northern Missouri counties: Buchanan, Caldwell, Carroll, Chariton, Clinton, Monroe, Randolph, and Ralls. The transmission line would cross the property of approximately 570 Missouri landowners and would deliver 4, 000 megawatts of wind-generated electricity from western Kansas, including 500 megawatts to Missouri and 3, 500 megawatts to states further east. Grain Belt also proposed to construct the Missouri converter station and associated AC interconnecting facilities in Ralls County.

         The Commission conducted local public hearings in each of the eight counties where the proposed transmission line would be located. From March 20 through March 24, 2017, the Commission held an evidentiary hearing and issued its decision on August 16, 2017, rejecting Grain Belt's application for a CCN on procedural grounds.[4]

         Grain Belt appealed the Commission's decision to this Court, which reversed and then transferred the case to the Missouri Supreme Court. On transfer, the Missouri Supreme Court concluded that the Commission had erred in finding it could not lawfully grant a CCN to Grain Belt and remanded back to the Commission to determine whether Grain Belt's "proposed utility project is necessary or convenient for the public service."[5] Grain Belt Express Clean Line, LLC v. Public Service Comm'n, 555 S.W.3d 469, 474 (Mo. banc 2018).

         On remand, the Commission held another evidentiary hearing on December 18-19, 2018. The Commission received additional evidence regarding potential changes which may have occurred since the issuance of its Report and Order on August 16, 2017.

         On March 20, 2019 (effective April 19, 2019), the Commission issued its Report and Order granting Grain Belt a certificate of convenience and necessity, subject to conditions, and thereby approving Grain Belt's application to build the Missouri portion of the proposed transmission line.

         In granting the CCN, the Commission considered whether the Grain Belt proposal was "necessary or convenient for the public service" under the five "Tartan factors."[6] The factors considered are: a) there must be a need for the service; b) the applicant must be qualified to provide the proposed service; c) the applicant must have the financial ability to provide the service; d) the applicant's proposal must be economically feasible; and e) the service must promote the public interest.

         Under the first Tartan factor, the Commission found that Grain Belt was devoting its transmission line and converter station to a public use and that there was need for the Grain Belt project. The Commission found that Grain Belt would benefit MJMEUC and the Missouri Public Energy Pool[7] ("MoPEP"), as well other Missouri cities that have contracted to purchase wind energy from Kansas over the Grain Belt transmission line.

         Under the second and third Tartan factors, the Commission found that Grain Belt established its qualifications and financial ability to support the Grain Belt project.

         Under the fourth Tartan factor, regarding economic feasibility, the Commission found that the Grain Belt project is an interregional transmission line that would lead to lower transmission congestion costs for utilities, and reduce the cost to utilities of serving their load. Higher wind speeds in Kansas, together with tax incentives, and lower construction costs allow Kansas to generate wind energy at a lower cost compared to wind energy generated in the east. Compared to other forms of alternative energy the total delivered cost of energy from Grain Belt is less than other renewable or conventional energy alternatives. Finally, the Commission found that the size of the Grain Belt Project would achieve an economy of scale that is significantly less expensive than a project that served Missouri alone.

         Under the fifth Tartan factor, regarding public interest, the Commission found that Grain Belt's final proposed route "represents the best route to minimize the overall effect of the Project on the natural and human environment while avoiding unreasonable and circuitous routes, unreasonable costs, and special design requirements." Additionally, the Commission found that the project would lower Missouri's adjusted energy production costs, provide benefits to Missouri's environmental and public health, through the generation of no emissions wind energy, and would have a "substantial and favorable effect on the reliability of electric service in Missouri." The Commission found that the economic impact of the Grain Belt project would be dramatic, both in terms of job creation as well as state revenue.

         Finally, the Commission found that Grain Belt qualified as an electrical corporation for purposes of Sections 386.020 (14), (15) and Section 393.170. The Commission found that Grain Belt had acquired 39 easements for the transmission line from Missouri landowners, which gave Grain Belt the right to construct, operate, repair, maintain, and remove an overhead transmission line and related facilities, along with rights of access to the right-of-way for the transmission line. The Commission also found that Grain Belt had cash on hand to be used for project development.

         Based on these findings, the Commission determined that the Grain Belt project would benefit Missouri citizens and serve the public interest. Thereafter, the Commission unanimously granted Grain Belt the CCN for which it had applied on August 30, 2016.

         MLA and Farm Bureau timely filed applications for rehearing with the Commission. The Commission denied the applications for rehearing. MLA and Farm Bureau now appeal.[8]

         Standard ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.