Representative Ed Lewis's Capitol Report-Missouri First Transmission Act Will Protect Missouri Farms, Private Property

March 27, 2023

Two weeks ago, a bill that I am carrying was voted out of the Utilities Committee. It is called the Missouri First Transmission Act. This bill HB 992 would require that any required Regional Transmission Line be collocated on an already existing right of way of a current incumbent utilities company such as our local coops or Investor-Owned Utility companies whenever possible and that Missouri Utility providers would have the first opportunity to bid on any project required by the Regional Transmission Operator. Missouri Cattleman Association endorsed this bill and said this could prevent an out of state company from building a regional transmission line through our rural farmland and prevent another Grain Belt Express type of line from using eminent domain to take away sections of Missouri farmland to build a transmission line.

Below is an op-ed I wrote for several newspapers around the area:

Here’s a sobering reality for those of us in Northern Missouri who have been fighting against the Grain Belt Express for the past decade: more transmission line projects have already been approved and are coming quickly.

Last July the regional transmission operators (RTOs) adopted a plan to build more than 2,000 miles of new transmission projects across the Midwest, including hundreds of miles of new transmission lines in northern Missouri. As a response to these types of plans, many Midwestern states have passed legislation answering who can builds these lines. To protect Missouri private property against out-of-state, private companies, I’ve sponsored legislation to put Missourians first — the Missouri First Transmission Act.

As a fellow Missourian, which of these two scenarios do you believe is better for our rural communities?

Under current law, out-of-state, private companies with no ties to Missouri and no existing agreements to use rights-of-way will very likely be awarded bids to build these transmission lines and will seize private land, even by eminent domain, to build these new lines. The lines would cut through farms, run by homes and businesses, and cross our roads and highways, all while the money made from these projects would leave Missouri.

With HB 992, The Missouri First Transmission Act, Missouri’s incumbent electric companies, which have long-standing relationships with farmers, businesses, landowners, local governments, and residents, and who have the existing rights-of-way, would have the right to bid on the job first and do the job. This means that for the most part, they can build the transmission lines using existing infrastructure and right of ways where lines are already in existence minimizing any impact on farms, businesses, private property, and our communities.

The House Utilities Committee recently held a hearing on House Bill 992 and heard first-hand how Missouri’s electric companies are working together to ensure co-location for a vast majority of these new transmission lines, which will help preserve private property rights of farm and ranch families in the state.

Midwestern states that have previously passed laws like the Missouri First Transmission Act, see quicker construction, and will see less need for new property to be used for Transmission lines when existing lines will work, and the money will stay in Missouri and in our local economy.

Call me old fashioned, but I believe the right to own, operate, farm and hand down private property to the next generation is one of our most basic and fundamental rights as Americans. But sadly, without the passage of HB 992 out of state, private companies will come in and build the new transmission lines wherever they see fit regardless of existing lines and right of ways. To protect our way of life and our property rights in Missouri it's essential for my colleagues and I to pass House Bill 992, the Missouri First Transmission Act. These transmission projects are headed our way, whether we like it or not, and by passing this legislation, we can ensure the property rights of Missourians remain our top priority.

The bill still needs to be referred and voted out of the Rules Legislative Oversight Committee. If you support property rights for Northeast Missouri, please contact the Speaker's office at 573-751-1544 and tell them you support HB 992.