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Invenergy Adds Broadband Capability to Transmission Project in Hope of Lessening Opposition to It

image credit: ID 130058549 © Elxeneize |

Invenergy is taking a page from Central Maine Power's book in its efforts to get its proposed Grain Belt Express transmission line built in Missouri.

The company said last week that it would include infrastructure on the project that would enable internet service providers to bring broadband service to nearly 1 million rural Missourians who currently don't have it.

Invenergy said it would provide the broadband infrastructure at no cost to Missouri communities or taxpayers. The company is trying to win over opponents of the project, who have gotten the Missouri House to pass legislation that would prohibit the use of eminent domain to acquire land for it.

The Grain Belt Express would bring wind power from western Kansas to Missouri and potentially Illinois and Indiana.

Invenergy said adding the broadband infrastructure to the transmission line would be a "first-of-its-kind" project for it. Invenergy, however, is not the first company to propose adding broadband infrastructure to a controversial transmission project in an attempt to make the project more palatable to its foes. Central Maine Power has said it will string a broadband cable on its proposed New England Clean Energy Connect transmission line, which would bring hydropower from Quebec to Massachusetts. CMP would use some of the cable's bandwidth itself, but the rest would go to providing high-speed Internet to rural communities in western Maine that don't have it.

Neither the broadband cable nor other benefits CMP has promised to provide to Mainers as part of the New England Clean Energy Connect have calmed opposition to it. Its foes have submitted enough signatures to Maine election officials to get a referendum on it on the ballot in November.

Invenergy is no doubt hoping its broadband proposal will be more effective at thawing the coolness many Missourians feel towards the Grain Belt Express.


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