Clean Line Energy and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on Sept. 19 signed a participation agreement to take the Plains & Eastern transmission project through the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) process.
DOE and the company had been in negotiations for months over the DOE’s potential involvement in the environmental review. Clean Line has not issued a statement on the participation agreement.
Though the company had expected to sign a partnership agreement, Jimmy Glotfelty, executive vice president of external affairs and co-founder of the company, told TransmissionHub on Oct. 11 that the difference between the two was “semantics.”
“It’s not a partnership agreement; it’s a participation agreement to determine the environmental benefits of this project,” Glotfelty said.
Plains & Eastern was proposed in response to a DOE request for proposals under Section 1222 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct05), which allows the DOE to accept private funding for transmission projects.
The company in July 2010 submitted a proposal to the DOE and the Southwestern Power Administration to enter into a development agreement. Under the EPAct05, the DOE, acting through Southwestern or the Western Area Power Administration, is authorized “to accept and use funds contributed by another entity to design, develop, construct, operate, and maintain transmission facilities,” according to the filing.
“What we do now is kick off a NEPA process to understand the environmental benefits of the project, and then once that’s completed, we’ll go back to them, … they have to approve every component of the statute to make sure we at that point in time still comply with the statute, and then they make a final determination,” Glotfelty said.
The process is expected to commence this quarter.
Plains & Eastern is an 800-mile, 600-kV transmission line that originates at the Diamond substation in Oklahoma and terminates at the Memphis substation in Tennessee, according to TransmissionHub data.
The project’s two transmission lines will have a combined capacity of 7,000 MW. Plains & Eastern is estimated to cost $3.5bn.