Bringing the Wind Energy to Indiana

For the May-June issue of BizVoice magazine, I had the opportunity to write some stories on energy issues of the day. When energy is the topic, the focus normally is on the source of the power (coal, gas, nuclear, etc.). One of my pieces dealt with the need for enhanced transmission to move the electricity to where it is needed.

A potential newcomer to the transmission mix in Indiana is the Grain Belt Express Clean Line. This 700-mile overhead, high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line will deliver wind energy from Kansas to Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and states farther east. Starting in western Kansas, the line will connect at a substation near Sullivan in western Indiana.

The Indiana Chamber is supporting Grain Belt, a $2 billion project that the company says would enable $7 billion in investment in new wind farms and provide power for 1.4 million homes. Approximately 200 businesses in Indiana are involved in the wind energy and transmission supply chains.

The HVDC is said to be most efficient over long distances. It requires a narrower right of way, resulting in lower cost transmission and prices. Clean Line will fund the transmission and sell the capacity to wind generators and load-serving entities.

As noted in the upcoming BizVoice article, transmission approval and construction is a long-term process. Grain Belt requested public utility status in Indiana in November 2012, allowing it to operate, manage and control transmission facilities. Commerical operations could begin as early as 2017.

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