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Wind power project approved by Memphis economic development panel

The Economic Development Growth Engine for Memphis & Shelby County has approved an 11-year tax abatement for Texas-based Plains and Eastern Clean Line LLC.

The company is planning to invest $259 million in a 700-mile, 600 kilowatt wind-power current electric transmission line. The company has an exclusive contract in place to acquire 208 acres on Miller Road in Millington. But environmental statements and acquisition will most likely not be completed until 2015. The company would begin construction in 2016, and expects the project to be completed by 2018, according to Mario Hurtado, executive vice president of Clean Line Energy.

The transmission line would begin in the Oklahoma panhandle and end in Shelby County, where the company expects to connect it to the Tennessee Valley Authority’s power grid. However, the company doesn’t have an agreement in place with TVA yet to provide power. That deal is expected to come, but also involves converting power from direct to alternating current, which TVA uses.

“Once it’s in their system, they can do whatever they want to do with it,” Hurtado said.

Hurtado said the company’s decision to conclude the line in Shelby County had a lot to do with the geography of Tennessee and the state’s reputation as a “hub” for so many different industries.

“Memphis doesn’t produce a lot of energy and would be a good place to inject a large volume of relatively clean energy,” he said. “We don’t say wind is the only answer, but it’s an important part of the answer with other natural resources.”

The EDGE board pointed out the land Clean Line Energy is trying to acquire currently yields around $3,000 annually in tax revenue. When construction of the project begins, that would increase to $3 million. When the project is completed, it would produce about $5 million in annual property taxes.

The project is also expected to create more than $36.2 million in tax revenue, including taxes paid by the 16 jobs the company would create. Those jobs have an average salary of $56,875.