A group of Fortune 500 companies today backed the Grain Belt Express project noting that the “Grain Belt Express Clean Line is an opportunity to provide our companies with a link to low-cost renewable energy at a scale that is meaningful.”
General Motors, Target, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Kellogg’s and Nestlé, announced their support for the Grain Belt Express in conjunction with the project’s application with the Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC). Missouri is the last of four states where approval is needed for the Grain Belt Express project; regulatory commissions in Kansas, Illinois and Indiana have approved the project.
Support for clean energy transmission efforts is a new step for corporate buyers. We have previously seen corporate engagement with utilities on state renewable energy policy and procurement, but this is the first big corporate endorsement (of which we are aware) for a transmission project.
Just earlier this year, over 60 U.S. companies joined to form the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA), which is committed to developing 60 gigawatts of renewables by 2025. For the first time, in 2015, non-utility customers accounted for over half of the wind power capacity that was contracted through power purchase agreements (PPA). The non-utility customers, which include Fortune 500 companies, signed for 52%, or 2,074 megawatts, of capacity, according to a report from the American Wind Energy Association.
Over the past month, the Grain Belt Express project has garnered growing support from municipal utilities and ratepayers in the Missouri, including the Missouri Industrial Energy Consumers, an association of some of Missouri’s largest energy consumers, and the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Grain Belt Express Clean Line’s filing with the Missouri PSC comes days after Governor Jay Nixon announced his support for the Grain Belt Express project and an agreement announced earlier this month with a group of 67 Missouri municipalities that the public power agency said will save its members $10 million annually.