April 27, 2017

Southern Cross submits route plan

Isabelle Altman | The Dispatch | April 26, 2017 | www.cdispatch.com

Southern Cross Transmission filed a petition with the Mississippi Public Service Commission on Tuesday formally proposing a route for the company’s 400-mile, 500-kilovolt wind energy line.

The next step is for the Public Service Commission to OK the project, and commissioners indicated that vote could be several months down the road.

The company, a subsidiary of Pattern Energy Group, has been in informal talks with landowners and public officials about the $700 million project, which will involve a transmission line starting in Texas, crossing Louisiana and ending with a $300 million converter station in Lowndes County. The project would have a $1 billion direct impact in the state, according to an independent economic analysis Southern Cross commissioned back in December.

“It’s taken a little extra time because we’ve done a lot of interaction with landowners and we have worked to find an acceptable route,” Southern Cross spokesperson Denton Gibbes told The Dispatch today. “It always takes a little time when you’re trying to do things right.”

The proposed route enters the Golden Triangle in the western Oktibbeha County, then moves northeast into Clay County, and then north of West Point into Monroe County near Hamilton. Then it enters Lowndes County and ends at a converter station to be built near Caledonia.

Landowners on the route will receive letters from the company notifying them of the project within the next two to three weeks, Gibbes said.

Public Service Commissioner for Mississippi’s Northern District Brandon Presley could not be reached for comment by press time.

Commissioner Cecil Brown said he had not had the chance to look at the filings and that it could be several months before the Public Service Commission makes a decision on the route.

“I think it’s an exciting project in general terms,” he said. “It sounds like it will be good for the people in the state of Mississippi, but again I’ve got to look at the filings. We’ll probably have hearings on it. There may be some objectors. It can take a while to get through something like this.”

A spokesperson for Commissioner Sam Britton’s office also said there was no timetable for approving the project.

Until the project is approved, citizens can object by mailing letters with their reasons for interveneing to PSC Executive Secretary Katherine Collier at P.O. Box 1174 in Jackson.

Southern Cross representatives have been in contact with landowners whose property may be affected by the route since last summer. Gibbes said the formal process of obtaining easements had not yet begun.

Presley previously said he would only support the project if the company built the converter station in Mississippi, if Mississippians have access to the power running through the transmission lines and if Mississippi contractors are included in labor contracts.

“To me the trade-off is if you want to come in and do this, we’ll look at it, but you’ve got to meet a public interest burden,” Presley said in November. “The burden for that is what does the state of Mississippi – what do you get out of it? Are you just coming through our area or are we going to see development and real job growth?”

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2017/04/27/southern-cross-submits-route-plan/