Federal regulators have approved plans to sell capacity to customers of a direct-current electricity transmission line planned for Oklahoma and Arkansas.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave approval of the sales to Plains and Eastern Clean Line, a 700-mile high-voltage line from the Oklahoma Panhandle to Memphis, Tenn. The $2 billion project is one of five planned across the country by Clean Line Energy Partners LLC.
Clean Line said the approval will allow it to sell 100 percent of the capacity on the Plains and Eastern line to utilities and other customers. In addition, the company plans a converter station in central Arkansas to take up to 500 megawatts of the 3,500 megawatt capacity of the project.
“This approval takes Clean Line a step closer to building clean energy transmission infrastructure for Arkansas, Tennessee and the Mid-South and Southeast,” said Michael Skelly, president of Clean Line Energy.
The Plains and Eastern transmission line will take wind power from the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles and western Kansas to utilities in the southeast.
The company has yet to pick a specific route, but it has identified a corridor through Oklahoma and Arkansas, where the transmission line could be located.
Direct-current lines — as opposed to alternating-current transmission lines — allow large amounts of electricity to travel long distances with fewer line losses.
Customers line up
Mario Hurtado, Clean Line’s executive vice president of development, said the company had a positive response from potential customers earlier this summer.
Fifteen groups submitted requests for more than 17,000 megawatts of transmission service.
“We’re really encouraged by the progress we’re making,” Hurtado said.
Project representatives have signed a memorandum of understanding with the Tennessee Valley Authority to study how the authority can integrate renewable energy using the high-voltage, direct-current transmission line.
Hurtado said the Plains and Eastern Clean Line would be able to deliver competitively priced, zero-emission electricity to the TVA.
Clean Line is awaiting the next step in a federal environmental review.
It anticipates a proposed route and alternative routes will be published when the Energy Department issues a draft environmental impact statement by the end of the year.
The Energy Department is expected to identify a preferred route for the project in 2015 when it releases a final environmental impact statement. Clean Line said construction on the Plains and Eastern Clean Line could start as early as 2016 and the transmission line could be in commercial operation by 2018.
Michael Teague, Oklahoma’s secretary of energy and environment, said he was happy to see FERC’s approval of sales for the Plains and Eastern Clean Line.
“We believe it is another important milestone towards developing Oklahoma’s low-cost clean energy resources, enabling new jobs and growing economic development in our state and the nation,” Teague said in a news release.
For more information on the Plains and Eastern Clean Line federal environmental review, go to www.plainsandeasterneis.com.