Department of Energy Approves Plains & Eastern Clean Line Infrastructure Project
Washington, D.C.—The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued a Record of Decision (ROD) approving the Plains & Eastern Clean Line transmission project. DOE’s decision marks a critically important step towards the construction of America’s largest clean energy infrastructure project. The $2.5 billion project—100% funded by private investment—will support thousands of jobs in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Tennessee, including hundreds of manufacturing jobs in those states. After nearly six years of study and evaluation, DOE notes that the project merits the Department’s participation and designates a preferred route for the transmission line in Oklahoma and Arkansas.
In its summary of findings the Department of Energy finds that “the project as proposed will serve the public interest by facilitating renewable energy development, stimulating economic development, generating revenues for needed public investment, and doing so while minimizing impacts to landowners and the natural environment.”
The Plains & Eastern Clean Line will enable the delivery of 4,000 megawatts (MW) of low-cost, clean power from the Oklahoma Panhandle region to customers in Arkansas, Tennessee and other states in the Mid-South and Southeast. The project will deliver enough power for more than one million American homes.
“The Department of Energy’s decision shows that great things are happening in America today. The Plains & Eastern Clean Line is the largest clean energy infrastructure project in the nation and will modernize the U.S. electric grid while bringing forth new investment, job creation, and more low-cost power for American consumers,” said Michael Skelly, President of Clean Line Energy.
Skelly continued by saying, “After several years of extensive evaluation, we now have the major regulatory approvals in place to begin construction in 2017. We look forward to continuing to invest in this project so that thousands of people have jobs and millions of consumers benefit from the delivery of low-cost clean power. We are encouraged by the strong market demand for low-cost, clean energy and anticipate that interest will only increase now that the project has this essential decision.”
Edd Hargett, General Manager of the East Texas Electric Cooperative, congratulated the Department of Energy on their decision to move forward with the Plains & Eastern Clean Line, “I applaud the Secretary’s leadership proving that the government can team with the private sector to modernize and build America’s infrastructure. The Plains & Eastern Clean Line is an option for us to provide long-term, reliable and affordable electric power to our members.”
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers International President, Lonnie R. Stephenson, said, “I applaud the Energy Department’s decision to give a go-ahead to the Plains & Eastern Clean Line. The Energy Department recognizes that our nation desperately needs billions of dollars in new investment in our electrical infrastructure, which can lower costs and provide millions of people easy access to alternative, non-carbon emitting energy sources such as wind and solar.” Stephenson continued, “As the president of the largest union of electrical workers in North America, I am committed to working with lawmakers, community activists and business leaders to build energy infrastructure that will power the American economy in the 21st century.”
Today’s decision outlines the roles of Clean Line and DOE in the project, identifies a route for the interstate direct current transmission line, and confirms the beginning point of the project in Oklahoma and a converter station in Arkansas that will deliver 500 MW of low-cost, clean power. As part of its decision, DOE requires that Clean Line implement environmental protection measures during the development, construction and operation of the project to minimize impacts to landowners and the environment.
“The DOE’s decision is a critical milestone that will open up the spigots for billions of dollars in private investment, economic opportunity in rural areas that need it most, and potential savings for American energy consumers. We applaud DOE for their leadership and for supporting a clean, affordable and reliable energy future,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association. “We were aware of many wind developers and manufacturers standing ready to get to work. With the path clear for infrastructure needed to get clean energy to market, those wind companies can now invest, build projects, and create jobs in the Oklahoma Panhandle region.”
Ken Kimmell, President of the Union of Concerned Scientists said, “This is the first step toward creating an energy grid of the future—one that enables energy obtained from renewables to move freely across state boundaries to distant markets. The Administration’s decision on the Clean Line transmission project establishes an important precedent that encourages continued investment in renewables and fosters energy sector innovation.”
Skelly added, “We appreciate the DOE’s in-depth review and careful consideration of the project. We share their commitment to treat all landowners with fairness and respect, as well as their determination to build necessary infrastructure while conserving the environment. We appreciate the thousands of stakeholders across Oklahoma, Arkansas and Tennessee who participated in DOE’s environmental review and regulatory process and provided us with important feedback over the years. We will continue to work with landowners, local businesses, and the many other stakeholders across the project area.”
The Plains & Eastern Clean Line will provide approximately one billion dollars of private investment in Oklahoma and will grow Oklahoma’s clean energy economy by enabling several billion dollars of investment in new renewable energy facilities in the Oklahoma Panhandle region.
Fred Morgan, President and CEO of the State Chamber of Oklahoma said, “The Plains & Eastern Clean Line is vital to Oklahoma’s economic diversity and our ability to capitalize on the many benefits that wind energy production can bring to our state. This project will support Oklahoma communities through tax payments and additional revenues, and will stimulate economic development by providing new investments and quality jobs throughout the state.”
The delivery converter station in central Arkansas will deliver 500 MW of low-cost, clean power to Arkansas, enough electricity to power 160,000 Arkansas homes each year. The Plains & Eastern Clean Line also represents a direct investment of over $500 million dollars in Arkansas.
Arkansas landowner, Louis Schmoll, said, “The Plains & Eastern project will be good for our community. The county will receive yearly payments that will help the schools here that are in financial distress and landowners like myself will be fairly compensated. While some people may not like change, I see it as progress. Arkansas needs more low-cost clean energy, not only now, but for our future generations, and this project will make that possible.”
The Plains & Eastern Clean Line will also deliver 3,500 MW of low-cost renewable power to a delivery converter station located near Memphis, Tennessee, where the project will interconnect to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) system. This interconnection will allow low-cost clean energy to reach millions of TVA customers and other consumers throughout the Southeast.
Catherine Glover, President of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry/Tennessee Manufacturers Association said, “The Plains & Eastern Clean Line is a unique opportunity for Tennessee. Along with the $300 million direct investment, the state will also benefit from increased economic diversity, new jobs, and new tax revenue. This integral project will bring together private investment, proven technology, and public benefits to deliver renewable energy to Tennessee and the Southeast for decades to come.”
The bipartisan Energy Policy Act of 2005 included Section 1222, which fosters private-public collaboration to upgrade or build new transmission projects such as the Plains & Eastern Clean Line. In Section 1222, Congress authorized DOE to participate in the design, development, construction, operation, maintenance, or ownership of privately-funded transmission lines. In June 2010, DOE issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for New or Upgraded Transmission Line Projects to facilitate private sector participation in the development of new transmission. Clean Line Energy submitted an application in July of 2010 in response to this RFP for its Plains & Eastern Clean Line project. The Record of Decision marks the principal regulatory approval needed from DOE.
For more information regarding the Plains & Eastern Clean Line project, including detailed maps and contact information, please visit Clean Line’s project website at PlainsAndEasternCleanLine.com. Clean Line representatives are available to answer questions and meet in person with stakeholders. The text of DOE’s Record of Decision is available here.