Clean Line sees 2015 DOE role

Clean Line Energy Partners hopes to obtain siting authority from the US Energy Department (DOE) in “about a year” that will enable it to finalize routing for the proposed $2bn Plains and Eastern wind transmission project, President Michael Skelly tells Recharge.

The 700-mile (1,126km) high-voltage direct current (600kV) line will bring 3.5GW of wind energy from the Oklahoma Panhandle to a substation near Memphis, Tennessee, for distribution to southeastern and mid-Atlantic states.

The eventual “partnership” with DOE through its agency Southwestern Power Administration (SWPA), which markets power in six south-central states, would be limited to use – if needed – SWPA’s eminent domain authority to obtain right-of-way in Arkansas.

“The Arkansas public utilities commission said they really liked the project but we really didn’t fit in the four corners of their law. That’s one of the reasons we are using the federal process to help site the line,” Skelly says.

Clean Line has received public utility status in Oklahoma, although this does not give it power of eminent domain there and is in the “middle of the process right now” to potentially acquire it in Tennessee, he adds.

In most cases, the developer expects to reach fair and reasonable lease deals with private landowners to site the line.

Meanwhile, Clean Line is in the process of preparing a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the project, which it hopes to release later this year for public comment. It also continues public outreach work in states and communities where the project would be located.

The Plains and Eastern project will have three converter stations. One, in Arkansas, to convert HVDC to alternating current for delivery of about 500MW of power to the grid there.

A second where the line will begin in the Oklahoma Panhandle to convert incoming AC power from wind farms to HVDC for transport.

A third will reverse the process where the line will end near Memphis and allow the now-AC power to continue its journey to end-users in the US Southeast.

(Note: corrects public utility status in Oklahoma)