Missouri Court of Appeals Conflict on Issue of County Assents and Transmission Line Certification

By Joshua Harden

The Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District has revived the hopes of the Grain Belt Express Clean Line Energy (GBX) transmission project; a high-voltage, direct-current transmission line which would bring wind power from western Kansas to load centers in the east. Last year, the Missouri Public Service Commission denied GBX's application for a certificate of convenience and necessity for the multi-billion dollar project. A certificate from the Missouri PSC is necessary for an electric corporation seeking to do business in Missouri.

The Missouri Commission's denial was based solely upon a decision by the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District involving Ameren Transmission Company of Illinois (ATXI). In the Neighbors United case, a group of landowners successfully argued that under Section 210.100, RSMo, the Missouri PSC was without authority to issue ATXI a certificate prior to the transmission company obtaining "county assents" to cross county roads. The Missouri Commission made clear that it believed the GBX project was in the public interest and would have approved the project if not for the Neighbors United opinion.

GBX appealed the decision of the Missouri Commission to the Eastern District Court of Appeals, and won. The Eastern District disagreed with the Western District and found that an "area certificate" and a "line certificate" were distinguishable under the relevant statute and case law, and that under a line certificate, obtaining the "county assents" was not a prerequisite to the Commission granting a certificate. The Court of Appeals, Eastern District, rather than remanding the case to the Missouri PSC has transferred the case to the Missouri Supreme Court, finding that the issues are of general interest.

For more information on the GBX transmission project, please contact Joshua Harden or the Stinson Leonard Street contact with whom you regularly work.


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