Tennessee board approves Plains and Eastern Clean Line

Proposed line would carry Oklahoma wind to Mid-South and Southeast

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Plains and Eastern Clean Line LLC, a subsidiary of Clean Line Energy Partners LLC (Clean Line) of Houston, Texas, received a major regulatory approval in the State of Tennessee. The Tennessee Regulatory Authority (TRA) unanimously voted to approve the application of Plains and Eastern for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity and to grant Plains and Eastern the authority to operate as a wholesale transmission-only public utility in Tennessee.

The Plains & Eastern Clean Line is an approximately 700-mile overhead, direct current 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 Mid-South and Southeast. The project will provide affordable, renewable energy to more than one million homes annually, create construction jobs in Tennessee, and help reduce air pollution.

Clean Line Energy President, Michael Skelly, said, “We appreciate the TRA’s review of our application for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity. We are happy to take another step forward in the development of this important infrastructure project and believe there is an essential role that affordable renewable energy can and should play in the energy mix for Tennessee and the greater Southeast.”

There is a need to connect the supply of thousands of megawatts of new wind energy in the Oklahoma Panhandle with the increasing demand of utilities in the Mid-South and Southeast. From May through July of 2014, Clean Line conducted an open solicitation for transmission capacity on the Plains & Eastern Clean Line. Fifteen potential customers submitted more than 17,000 megawatts of requests for transmission service, more than four times the capacity of the line. Clean Line received a Letter of Interest from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) stating that the Plains & Eastern Clean Line transmission project presents a valuable option for TVA to provide affordable clean energy. TVA has completed several key technical studies for interconnection of the project and is continuing detailed engineering work to ensure the safe and reliable interconnection with the TVA transmission system.

“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.”

In resolutions passed unanimously, both Shelby County (TN) and the City of Memphis expressed support for the development, construction and operation of the Plains & Eastern Clean Line. They cited the investment in western Tennessee and the potential to create a renewable energy hub in the Greater Memphis area as part of their reasoning.

“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., EDGE (Economic Development Growth Engine for Memphis and Shelby County) Chairman. “It’s going to help bring jobs to Tennessee.”

The Department of Energy (DOE), in coordination with the Southwestern Power Administration, is leading an extensive environmental review of the Plains & Eastern Clean Line under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). In December 2014, DOE issued the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Plains & Eastern Clean Line. The release of the Draft EIS initiated a 90-day public comment period that is scheduled to conclude in March 2015. DOE will host 15 public meetings in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Texas during January and February of 2015. Based on the current schedule, Clean Line anticipates that DOE would issue a Final EIS later in 2015, 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.

Skelly continued, “We are pleased to locate the converter station in Shelby County to deliver to the TVA transmission system, and deliver enough clean energy to reliably supply over one million homes per year. We are encouraged by the support that Shelby County, the City of Memphis, and the City of Millington, as well as their affiliated development organizations, have shown for our investment in western Tennessee. The Plains & Eastern Clean Line will be an important economic contributor to the western Tennessee region and will help Memphis maintain its leadership as ‘North America’s Distribution Center’ for years to come.”
For more information about the Plains & Eastern Clean Line, please visit www.plainsandeasterncleanline.com.  

— Source: Clean Line Energy Partners