Huge amounts of wind power may soon make its way to Arkansas, Tennessee and the rest of the Southeast. Last Friday, the U.S. Secretary of Energy, Dr. Ernest Moniz, announced that the Department of Energy (DOE) will be participating in a new transmission project that will deliver low-cost wind energy to our region. Over the past year, DOE has been doing its due diligence by reviewing the project’s technical and financial feasibility and determining whether the project is in the public interest. This thorough review is required under Section 1222 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Upon completion of this review, DOE has now issued a record of decision to approve Clean Line Energy Partner's transmission project.
In December of last year, the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project was released and the DOE “did not identify widespread significant impacts as a result of construction or operations and maintenance of the Project.” The big announcement last Friday means the project has cleared another significant hurdle for Clean Line's Plains and Eastern Project, which is one of five wind power transmission projects the company is developing to deliver huge quantities of low-cost wind power to states across the country.
The 700-mile Plains and Eastern Project is a proposed high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line that will deliver 4,000 megawatts of wind energy from the Oklahoma panhandle region to a converter station in central Arkansas where 500 megawatts of wind power can be dropped off and delivered to the state. Then, the remaining 3,500 megawatts of wind energy will be delivered to Tennessee and made available to the rest of our Southeastern states. The 4,000 megawatts of power that will be produced by the project is equivalent to providing electricity for 1.5 million homes across our region - which is four times the output of the Hoover Dam annually!
With DOE’s approval and support last week, the Plains and Eastern Clean Line project is estimated to begin construction in 2017 and should take 2-3 years to complete. Clean Line's transmission project is a no-brainer for our region. It will help protect natural resources, create tens of thousands of jobs, and provide health benefits by decreasing pollution from fossil-fuel generation in our region. We look forward to watching this project progress and help bring more clean energy and clean jobs to our region!