Grain Belt Express Transmission Line Project

Environmental Impact Statement

Grain Belt Express Transmission Line Project Environmental Impact Statement

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Environmental Impact Statement Overview

Grain Belt Express LLC, a subsidiary of Invenergy Transmission LLC, (referred to herein as the “Applicant”) submitted an application to the United States Department of Energy Loan Programs Office (DOE LPO) for a loan guarantee for the construction and energization of Phase 1 of the Grain Belt Express transmission line project in Kansas and Missouri (referred to herein as the “Project”). In making a decision on the application, DOE LPO is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The EIS will document existing conditions and analyze potential impacts of the Project, which includes a proposed 530-mile, high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line corridor that would extend between Ford County, in southwestern Kansas, and Monroe County in northeastern Missouri. To connect to the electric grid in Kansas, an HVDC converter station, alternating current (AC) switchyard, an additional 1,000-foot 345 kilovolt (kV) transmission line, all in Ford County, are included in the Project. 

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The Project also includes the proposed Grain Belt Express Tiger Connector, a 345 kV AC transmission line that extends from an HVDC converter station and AC switchyard in Monroe County approximately 40 miles to Callaway County that would establish a connection to the electric grid in Missouri. Together, these elements represent the Project in the EIS.

A Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an EIS was published in the Federal Register on December 16, 2022. The NOI informs the public of the upcoming environmental analysis and describes how the public can become involved in the EIS preparation. The NOI starts the scoping process, which is the period in which the federal agency and the public collaborate to define the range of issues and potential alternatives to be addressed in the EIS.

What is a loan guarantee?

The DOE is authorized to provide a federal loan guarantee for certain projects that employ innovative technologies. If approved, the Applicant would receive a federal loan to construct the Project, which would be paid back with interest to the federal government.

The Application

Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct) established a federal loan guarantee program for certain projects that employ innovative technologies. EPAct authorizes the Secretary of Energy to make loan guarantees available for those projects. Specifically, Title XVII identifies the projects as those that “avoid, reduce, or sequester air pollutants or anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases;” and “employ new or significantly improved technologies as compared to commercial technologies in service in the United States at the time the guarantee is issued.” You can learn more about the DOE LPO program by visiting www.energy.gov/lpo/mission

An image of the United States of America Department of Energy Loan Program Office website on a laptop.

The DOE LPO has determined that the Project, as proposed by the Applicant, is eligible pursuant to section 1703 of the EPAct and that it complies with DOE’s mandate, as defined in the act. DOE is using the NEPA process to assist in determining whether to issue a loan guarantee to the Applicant to support the Project, referred to as the Proposed Action.

Why is the Project being Proposed?

The Applicant asserts that creating a new energy infrastructure link would enable significant energy cost savings and increase electric system reliability for consumers in the Midwest, while enhancing national energy security and independence. According to the Applicant, this energy infrastructure investment would support economic activity regionally, including jobs and wages for workers and new, local tax revenue for communities.

What is HVDC transmission?

According to the Applicant, most of the Project would use HVDC transmission, a technology that allows for the safe and efficient movement of large amounts of electricity across long distances within a smaller footprint than other technologies. The Applicant asserts that HVDC transmission lines help to ensure energy diversity and electric system reliability by opening access to low-cost, domestic clean energy sources and with technology that can help during electric grid emergencies caused by extreme weather events or other factors.

Grain Belt Express LLC, or the Applicant, is the entity proposing to construct and operate the Project. According to the Applicant:

Grain Belt Express LLC has secured approval for operating the Project by state utility regulators in Kansas and Missouri. In 2011, the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) certified Grain Belt Express LLC as a transmission-only public utility. In 2013, KCC unanimously approved the route.

Project History and What Has Changed

The Missouri Public Service Commission (MPSC) voted unanimously to grant Grain Belt Express LLC a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity (CCN) in March 2019 after a 5-year public review process. Under the CCN, the final HVDC route in Missouri is approved and the Project is found to be in the public interest of the state of Missouri and its residents.

In August 2022, Grain Belt Express LLC submitted the Final Proposed Route for the Tiger Connector to MPSC for review and approval. At this time, MPSC is reviewing the proposed route.

Each of these state routing and approvals processes required significant local coordination with elected and appointed officials, property owners, and the public through formal events and meetings as well as informal community-based activities.

The current public, stakeholder, and agency involvement efforts are related to the EIS, triggered by Grain Belt Express LLC’s application for a loan guarantee from DOE LPO.

A potential future route, for Grain Belt Express Phase 2, is being considered in Illinois and is being pursued separately from Grain Belt Express Phase 1. 

Additional actions that are induced by or related to the Project, and identified as reasonably foreseeable, including but not limited to Grain Belt Express Phase 2, will also be discussed in the EIS as described in the next section.

Summary of Expected Impacts

The EIS will identify, describe, and analyze the potential effects of the Proposed Action and the No Action Alternative on the environment.  

To understand the effects of the Proposed Action, the EIS must also analyze the No Action Alternative, allowing for a baseline for comparison. Under the No Action Alternative, DOE LPO would not provide federal financial support (a loan guarantee) to the Applicant for construction and energization of the Grain Belt Express Project, with the assumption that the project would not be constructed. By comparing the Proposed Action with the No Action Alternative, the EIS will transparently demonstrate the effects of the Proposed Action on the environment.

DOE LPO recognizes that other actions or activities may be induced by or related to the proposed action (e.g., development of new generation assets as developers seek to interconnect with the project as well as system upgrades in Missouri for system reliability that would be performed by other utilities). In addition, construction of the Project may result in the Applicant developing a subsequent phase to the transmission project, Grain Belt Express Project Phase 2, which would extend from the HVDC converter station in Monroe County, Missouri, to an HVDC converter station in Illinois before transitioning to a 345 kV AC transmission line that interconnects with an existing substation in Indiana.

What do you Mean by "Environment"?

An EIS requires a thorough consideration of the likely impacts of the proposed action on the environment. Potential impacts on resources include, but are not limited to, impacts (whether beneficial or adverse; short term or long term) on air quality and greenhouse gas emissions; soils and paleontological resources; water resources, including surface and groundwater and floodplains; vegetation, wildlife, and special-status species; land use and recreation; socioeconomics and environmental justice; public health and safety; cultural resources and Native American traditional values; transportation; visual resources; and noise. Join us for one of our public meetings or return to this site starting on Wednesday, January 25, 2023, for a detailed list of environmental resources to be studied in the EIS.

Collaboration Across Agencies and with the Community

A vital part of the NEPA process is meaningful public involvement. This not only means providing the people of Kansas and Missouri with honest, transparent information, but also giving communities along the proposed project and other stakeholders the opportunity to be heard, listening to their opinions and comments, and answering their questions. Scoping, specifically, is used to focus the content of the EIS. This includes identifying environmental issues that are deserving of the most study and deemphasizing insignificant issues to narrow the scope of the EIS.

Public involvement continues through the completion of the environmental review process, where a draft EIS is made available and public meetings are held during another formal comment period.

Please join DOE LPO environmental team representatives at the public meetings or return to this site to learn more about the agencies and communities involved in the EIS and for detailed information about the EIS development process.

Project Schedule

A project timeline schedule.
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