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Mo. regulators clear Ameren 345-kV project, but require county approvals

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Mo. regulators clear Ameren 345-kV project, but require county approvals

Regulatorsin Missouri have given the greenlight to an Ameren Corp. subsidiary, with some conditions attached,on its proposed Mark Twain Transmission Project.

TheMissouri Public Service Commission on April 27 voted 5-0 to grant a certificate of convenience and necessity, or CCN, for the company's planned345-kV, approximately 95-mile transmission line, pending assent from thecounties it through which it would cross.

Basedon evidence contained in the case, Ameren should be issued the CCN, the PSCsaid, stating that Ameren has demonstrated the project is needed and that it isqualified to own and operate the line. Ameren has also shown that it has thefinancial means to construct the project and that it would provide positiveeconomic benefits to the surrounding area as well as serve the public interest,the PSC said.

"Notably,there is a benefit to Missouri ratepayers if this CCN is granted," the PSCsaid in its order.Commissioners Scott Rupp and Maida Coleman concurred with the majority'sdecision. (Docket No. EA-2015-0146)

TheMark Twain project would "promote grid reliability, relieve congestion,promote renewable energy, meet local load serving needs" and drive downrates for customers, the order said.

However,since the company does not have assent from any of the counties, it must obtainauthorization from each one and provide proof to the PSC before the CCN becomeseffective. The line would run through Marion, Shelby, Knox, Adair and Schuylercounties in Missouri.

Accordingto the PSC, Ameren had argued county assent is not necessary for transmission linecertificates, but only for area certificates to serve retail customers.

But,the PSC found based on past rulings that for the utility to not need a linecertificate, the transmission line must pass through territory for which theutility already holds a certificate, or extend beyond territory the utilityholds a certificate for. The PSC determined in this case that Ameren did notmeet either criterion.

"Wewill work diligently with the counties in understanding the project's localbenefits and needs, while satisfying the statutory requirements and meeting allstandards and codes that govern the design and construction of the project,"Ameren senior project manager Jim Jontry said in an email April 28.

Amerenapplied to the PSCfor approval of the Mark Twain project in May 2015.

InFebruary 2015, the company revealedits final route for the project, which will run between a new substation nearKirksville, Mo., called Zachary, east to the Maywood substation near Palmyra,Mo. There, the project will connect to Ameren's Illinois Rivers 345-kV project,which will run about 330 miles across Illinois. Both projects have been labeledas multivalue projects by the MidcontinentIndependent System Operator Inc. TheZachary-Maywood project is MVP 8 and the Illinois Rivers project is MVP 9.

Theoverall cost of the Mark Twain project is estimated at $224 million. Aside fromthe main 345-kV line, it includes two other lines from the Zachary substation:a 345-kV line to the Iowa border, where it will interconnect with anothermultivalue project; and a roughly 2.5-mile, 161-kV line to the existing Adairsubstation, operated by Ameren's utility subsidiary Ameren Missouri, knownlegally as Union Electric Co.