Clean Line Energy executives on Tuesday played up the economic development potential of a proposed $3.5 billion power line project across Oklahoma and Arkansas as a hearing began on the company’s application to be granted utility status.
Company officials said Clean Line is applying to public utility status because they believe the project should be subject to Oklahoma Corporation Commission oversight, but critics contend the application is only about securing condemnation rights.
“This is like the elephant in the room here,” Harper County property owner Sue Selman said. “Do they think they’re getting eminent domain here?”
The hearing before Administrative Law Judge Jacqueline Miller is scheduled to run at least three days.
Jimmy Glotfelty, Clean Line’s executive vice president of external affairs, said the project could spur investments of as much as $12 billion in new wind projects in the state.
He said the National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates Oklahoma can produce more than 260,000 megawatts of wind power, but there are not enough transmission lines in place to capitalize on that resource.
Glotfelty said the Clean Line project is expected to spur wind development in Oklahoma that would not occur otherwise.
He also said Oklahoma needs to export wind energy to take full advantage of the resource.
“There is more capacity in this state than there is demand,” Glotfelty said.
Vicki McCune, director of the Panhandle Regional Economic Development Coalition Inc., said the Clean Line project would provide a “significant shot in the arm” to counties and schools in the area.
A number of property owners oppose the project, urging the commission to reject Clean Line’s application if it would grant the out-of-state company the right to use eminent domain.
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