August 20, 2014
Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia

Interstate wind transmission project gets key federal approval

By ROD WALTON World Business Editor | Tulsa World | August 20, 2014 |

The proposed 700-mile power line to bring Oklahoma wind energy 700 miles to Tennessee has received a key federal approval, the company behind the transmission project reported Tuesday.

Plains and Eastern Clean Line LLC has gained approval to sell transmission service to customers at negotiated rates and to negotiate agreements for 100 percent of the line’s capacity. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave approval for the project that hopes to deliver 3,500 megawatts of wind power from the Oklahoma Panhandle farms to the Tennessee Valley Authority.

“This approval takes Clean Line a step closer to building clean energy transmission infrastructure for Arkansas, Tennessee and the Mid-South and Southeast,” Clean Line Energy President Michael Skelly said in a statement.

Clean Line is now allowed to sell transmission capacity to potential customers, including utilities, clean energy generators or other entities. Estimated price tag on the project, due for completion by 2018, is $2 billion.

The project would more than double the amount of wind energy currently used by the TVA, which provides service to more than 9 million people in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

Proponents have said it would also generate royalties for owners of property which holds the wind farms and for those areas where the transmission passes.

“Oklahoma boasts some of the best wind in the country,” Michael Teague, Oklahoma Secretary of Energy and Environment, said in the Clean Line release.

“We believe it is another important milestone toward developing Oklahoma’s low-cost clean energy resources, enabling new jobs and growing economic development in our state and the nation.”

Clean Line also has its detractors. Some are worried about the impact on nearby bird populations and visual issues.

The company has held dozens of town meetings in Oklahoma over the past several years. The most recent were held earlier this summer, including stops in Bristow, Beggs, Okmulgee and Muskogee, among others.

The Clean Line will be a 600-kilovolt direct current transmission line. Construction could begin as early as next year.

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