PALMYRA, Mo. -- The Missouri Public Service Commission has authorized Ameren Transmission Co. of Illinois to build a 100-mile transmission line across five counties in Northeast Missouri.
ATXI plans to begin construction in April on the Mark Twain Transmission Project. The line is expected to be in operation by the end of 2019.
"Approval of the Mark Twain Transmission Project is a significant step toward strengthening our region's energy grid and delivering customer benefits," Shawn E. Schukar, chairman and president of ATXI, said in a statement released by the company.
"This project will deliver greater energy reliability, economic growth and improved access to clean energy sources for Missouri and its residents."
The Public Service Commission's ruling in favor of ATXI climaxes a years-long quest by the company to build a new 345,000-volt transmission line from Palmyra to Kirksville and then on to the Iowa border.
ATXI originally proposed building its transmission line by acquiring new right of way in portions of Marion, Knox, Shelby, Adair and Schuyler counties. However, that plan met with fierce opposition from landowners and resulted in a series of lawsuits that stalled the project.
In May, ATXI announced a proposed new route, with more than 90 percent of it following the right of way of existing power lines maintained by Northeast Electric Power Cooperative and Ameren Missouri. The new route will bypass Shelby County altogether while taking in part of southern Lewis County.
By using existing right of way for most of the project, ATXI would avoid having to acquire so much new right of way in areas of opposition.
Since then, the project has met with mostly general approval by county officials and landowners. In a critical step last fall, all five county commissions along the new route formally gave their assent to the project, clearing the way for the Public Service Commission's approval.
Even the Neighbors United Against Ameren's Powerline group -- a fierce opponent of the project initially -- eventually agreed not to stand in the project's way after the new route was announced.
According to the Public Service Commission's unanimous "stipulation and agreement," which was approved Jan. 5 and confirmed Wednesday, Neighbors United withdrew as an intervenor in the case in December.
The commission document says Neighbors United and ATXI had "come to a mutual understanding regarding many of the differences in the two parties' positions," and Neighbors United announced it does not object to ATXI being granted permission to proceed.
ATXI said it expects to invest $250 million in the Mark Twain Transmission Project, which will involve stringing new lines along existing right of way in all five counties and constructing the new Zachary Substation adjacent to the existing Adair Substation in Adair County.