An administrative law judge at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission is not ready to rule on Clean Line Energy’s bid for public utility status in the state, but the Houston-based company does have the backing of the agency’s staff.
Clean Line plans to build an 800-mile high-voltage electrical transmission line across Oklahoma and Arkansas to carry wind energy to southeastern states.
Officials have said getting utility status is vital to the $3.5 billion project.
The judge who presided over a hearing on the application this month is expected to make a recommendation on Clean Line’s application. The final decision rests with the elected commissioners.
The agency’s public utility division staff has recommended granting Clean Line transmission-only utility status, while working on new rules for such companies.
Attorneys for Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. are urging the commission to reject Clean Line’s bid for utility status, contending the company does not meet the legal definition of public utility since its project won’t serve state residents.
An economist hired by Clean Line estimated the project could bring almost $6 billion in economic gains to Oklahoma while the transmission line is built and developed, while providing an added boost to the state’s wind industry.
Jimmy Glotfelty, Clean Line’s executive vice president for external affairs, said he is optimistic commissioners will approve the company’s application, which he admitted raises new issues for state regulators. He said he believes the proposed project is right for Oklahoma, home to some of the country’s best wind resources.
Construction is expected to begin in late 2013. It would be energized in 2015.
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