Clean Line Energy: Plains & Eastern to be a two-phase project

Clean Line Energy’s proposed Plains & Eastern project is being planned as a two-phase project, according to Jimmy Glotfelty, the company’s executive vice president of external affairs.

Estimated to cost $3.5bn, the 600-kV, 800-mile line is expected to bring online 7,000 MW of wind energy. Realisitically, the project will be constructed in two phases, with the first phase being 3,500 MW and $1.75bn, Glotfelty said at the EEI Transmission, Distribution & Metering conference in Dallas, Texas, on Oct. 11. 

Planned as a 600-kv line, Glotfelty said it “could go to 800-kV.” 

Though the exact route has not yet been determined, it is expected to run from western Oklahoma into western Tennessee. The company has signed a memorandum of understanding with the TVA and is in the process of updating it, Glotfelty said, adding the MOU will continue for “another couple years.”

Because Clean Line is dealing with the TVA, the company may also potentially partner with the Southwestern Power Administration, Glotfelty said.

Though 3,500 MW may be difficult for the TVA to accommodate since over the last two years it has signed 1,500 MW of power purchase agreements, the TVA system has interconnections throughout the Southeast, Glotfelty said.

“So we could go beyond TVA, even though the deal is directly with TVA,” he said.

Furthermore, the TVA system has announced it will retire 19 coal units by 2017. “They’re going to need capacity of some sort,” he said.

Plains & Eastern is one of four Clean Line projects that proposes to take high-speed winds from the “wind spine” of the U.S. to high load markets in eastern and western U.S. The wind spine is a huge swath of land bisecting the country that has been identified as rich in winds over 9 meters per second (m/s) at a height of 80m. The project is expected to have a 50%+ utilization rate.

Source: AWS Truepower

Plains & Eastern was proposed in response to a U.S. Department of Energy request for proposals under Section 1222 of the Energy Policy Act, which provides for federal siting for projects, he noted.

However, the company is opting to go through the local siting process. Clean Line has filed for utility status in Arkansas and Oklahoma. In Oklahoma, the project is recommended for approval by the administrative law judge, Glotfelty said.

Glotfelty acknowledged that it is “more than likely” the project will need to go through the NEPA process for an environmental impact statement.

Clean Line has signed an MOU with General Cable for the transmission cable. “It is our expectation we’ll be drawing on local resources for jobs,” Glotfelty said, adding this was part of the project’s economic development.

The line is also projected to create 10,000 construction jobs.

Clean Line has also proposed the Rock Island, Centennial West and Grain Belt Express projects. 

“We are optimistic that all four of these will be constructed during the 2014-2016 time frame,” Glotfelty said.

About Rosy Lum 525 Articles
Rosy Lum, Analyst for TransmissionHub, has been covering the U.S. energy industry since 2007. She began her career in energy journalism at SNL Financial, for which she established a New York news desk. She covered topics ranging from energy finance and renewable policies and incentives, to master limited partnerships and ETFs. Thereafter, she honed her energy and utility focus at the Financial Times' dealReporter, where she covered and broke oil and gas and utility mergers and acquisitions.