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Tennessee Regulatory Authority approves utility status for Plains and Eastern Clean Line

Wind energy in the state of Tennessee just got a big push forward.

The Tennessee Regulatory Authority has approved a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity to Plains & Eastern Clean Line LLC, which will allow the company to operate as a transmission only public utility in the state.

Plains & Eastern Clean Line is planning a 700-mile electric transmission project that will deliver wind energy from the Oklahoma Panhandle region to utilities and customers in Tennessee, Arkansas and other markets in the Southeast. The project’s goal is to provide affordable, renewable energy to more than one million homes annually, create construction jobs in Tennessee and help reduce air pollution. Clean Line Energy Partners LLC, a Houston-based company, is investing $2 billion in the project, and the company has an exclusive contract in place to acquire 208 acres on Miller Road in Millington.

In early 2014, the Economic Development Growth Engine for Memphis & Shelby County approved an 11-year tax abatement for Plains and Eastern Clean Line.

“This is great news for the economic climate in Tennessee. Not only will low-cost, renewable energy benefit current business and residential utility customers, it will send another strong message of why potential companies should relocate to our state,” said Al Bright, Jr., chairman of the EDGE board. “It’s going to help bring jobs to Tennessee.”

In December 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy issued a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Plains & Eastern Clean Line. Based on the current schedule, Clean Line anticipates that DOE would issue a Final EIS later this year, which will consider and respond to comments received regarding the Draft EIS. Construction is estimated to begin in 2016 and will require approximately two to three years to complete. The Plains & Eastern Clean Line is expected to begin delivering electricity as early as 2018.

“Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry and its manufacturing division the Tennessee Manufacturers Association applauds this decision by the TRA on behalf of the Plains & Eastern Clean Line,” said Catherine Glover, president of Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry. “We believe this is a strong example of Tennessee moving forward as a clean energy leader, attracting new business investment and spurring job creation.”