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Energy company seeks PILOT for wind power transfer plant

A Houston-based wind energy firm is considering a $259.8 million investment in energy transfer infrastructure in Shelby County.

Clean Line Energy plans on building a 700-mile-long transmission system to deliver around 3,500 megawatts of wind power – enough energy to power around 1 million homes – generated in the Oklahoma panhandle to the Mid-South and the Southeast. The wind power generated in Oklahoma would be sent to the Tennessee Valley Authority system, which supplies Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division and dozens of other utilities.

Clean Line Energy has applied for a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) incentive from the Economic Development and Growth Engine of Memphis and Shelby County.

The project would create 16 permanent jobs with an average salary of $56,875. The project qualifies for an 11-year PILOT, which would save the company around $24.2 million. However, the project would create around $36.2 million in new tax revenue.

In its PILOT application Clean Energy said it is also considering Tipton County for the project.

“Our project will interconnect to the TVA Shelby substation,” Clean Line said in its PILOT application. “We have alternatives to site our investment in counties other than Shelby while still having access to the TVA Shelby substation. While other counties, other than Shelby offer lower tax basis without a PILOT, to make Shelby County competitive, a PILOT is required.”

Clean Line would build a converter station in what is now unincorporated Shelby County. The site lies in the city of Millington’s reserve area. The site currently pays $2,975 per year in Shelby County property taxes, according to an EDGE staff report. After construction Shelby County will receive an estimated $3.19 million annually for the term of the PILOT and $5.4 million thereafter.

If approved by federal regulators the project is expected to begin construction in 2016 and take two years to complete.