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Federal energy panel OKs wind power line project in Oklahoma

A proposed $3.5 billion power transmission line to bring wind energy generated from western Oklahoma turbines to Tennessee has received federal regulatory approval to negotiate rates with potential customers.

The Plains and Eastern Clean Line project is still three years away from construction, but the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approval is a big step, officials said. The FERC granted Clean Line authority to subscribe up to 75 percent of its line capacity with anchor tenants.

“This approval takes Clean Line a step closer to building a clean energy future for the southeast,” parent firm Clean Line Energy Partners LP CEO Michael Skelly said in a statement. “We are excited at the momentum surrounding the Plains & Eastern Clean Line and we look forward to working with our local, state, and federal stakeholders as we continue to develop the transmission line project in a responsible and transparent manner.”

Clean Line announced plans to build the nearly 800-mile direct-current transmission line several years ago. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission approved the project’s utility status last year, and Clean Line already has lined up some contractor agreements, including an estimated $300 million deal with Claremore-based support pole maker Pelco Structural LLC.

“The Plains & Eastern Clean Line will create jobs, while enabling billions of dollars of investments in Oklahoma’s clean energy industry,” Oklahoma Secretary of Energy Michael Ming said.

The Plains and Eastern Clean Line will pull power from wind farms and deliver it on a 500-mile kilovolt line across Oklahoma, Arkansas and to Tennessee Valley Authority substations, according to reports. Project officials said the 3,500-megawatt line could deliver enough electricity to power one million homes.

Construction could begin by late 2015, Skelly said previously. The project still needs utility status approval in Arkansas and Tennessee, and to complete right-of-way acquisitions.

The Plains and Eastern Clean Line could be completed by late 2017.