Momentum continues to grow for the Clean Line energy project.
Plains and Eastern Clean Line LLC obtained regulatory approval from FERC earlier this year to negotiate transmission service and rates for its capacity.
The project, often referred to as Clean Line, is an electric transmission line project that will deliver up to 3,500 megawatts (MW) of wind power from the Oklahoma Panhandle region to communities in Arkansas, Tennessee and other states in the Mid-South and Southeast.
In addition, Clean Line has proposed an intermediate delivery converter station in Central Arkansas that would have the capacity to deliver up to 500 MW of power, but that has yet to receive regulatory approval.
Earlier this month, Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) President and CEO William D. Johnson sent a letter to Michael Skelly, the president and founder of Clean Line Energy Partners. The letter expresses interest in the Plains and Eastern project as the TVA is in the midst of its resource planning.
“Least-cost planning for electricity resources has become more challenging in recent years, given changes to the economy, customer usage patterns and preferences, technological change, and more stringent environmental requirements,” Johnson wrote. “The recent promulgation of the draft regulations implementing Clean Air Act Section 111(d) rule will add even greater complexity. One path for TVA to deal with this complexity is by having options to draw from as we refine our resource planning and selection. Clean Line represents this type of optionality, and options are valuable to TVA.”
While Johnson’s letter signals his interest in the project, moving forward would still require TVA board approval. Johnson offers his help with additional state and federal authorities to keep the project on track.
“We understand that the Plains and Eastern Clean Line is designed to meet the demand for electric transmission capacity to deliver renewable energy to the southeastern United States,” he said. “TVA supports the advancement of the Plains and Eastern Clean Line as a potential option for the future needs of the region and encourages the appropriate authorities to provide the regulatory and other government review needed to move the project forward. The implementation of the project could provide TVA with the potential to directly access low-cost wind generation from the Oklahoma Panhandle region to serve its customers.”
Based on current estimates, the Clean Line project is expected to achieve commercial operation as early as 2018.
During that time frame, Arkansas and other state and federal officials will be grappling with the referenced Clean Air Act draft regulations.
Under President Obama’s so-called Clean Power Plan, the EPA has proposed a 30% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants by 2030 from 2005 levels, mainly targeting the nation’s fleet of more than 600 coal-fired plants that currently supply the lion’s share of the nation’s electricity needs.
State business and regulatory leaders have been meeting to outline the impact of the regulation on industry and utilities, and to explore how the state might meet the goal. Alternative energy production, including wind energy, could be an aid in meeting the new goals.
The EPA is still scheduled to issue a final rule by its original deadline of June 2015 even though it extended a public comment period to Dec. 1, 2014.
Arkansas would have until 2017 to submit a state plan to comply with the rules and would have until 2018 to submit a regional plan.