Response to Clean Line RFI confirms more transmission needed for renewables

The response to a request for information (RFI) issued by the developers of the Plains & Eastern Clean Line shows that more transmission is needed to move the energy from the locations where it is generated to load centers across the Mid-South and the Southeast.

Some 15 wind generation companies with projects representing more than 16,000 MW of generation in Oklahoma, southwest Kansas and the Texas Panhandle responded, “demonstrating the need for more transmission infrastructure to move the cost-competitive wind energy,” the company said in a statement announcing the results.

The RFI specifically sought responses only from developers with projects under development, and which would be capable of entering service by Jan. 1, 2018. The RFI sought to evaluate the wind resources that Plains & Eastern would transport.

While many in the wind industry believe it is obvious that more transmission infrastructure is needed, the data collected through the RFI will be used to communicate this need to utilities, regulators, and other stakeholders, Clean Line said in issuing the RFI. The results corroborate that belief.

“The results of the RFI confirm that there are abundant, high quality wind resources in the Oklahoma Panhandle region ready to provide affordable clean energy to millions of consumers via new transmission lines like the Plains & Eastern Clean Line,” the company said.

The RFI provided information about generators’ need for the Plains & Eastern Clean Line’s transmission capacity as well as data that will allow Clean Line to characterize the wind resource and production potential of the Panhandle region, the company added. The output of the proposed projects would represent more than four times the delivery capacity of the 700-mile, 600-kV DC transmission project, which will be able to transport 3,500 MW initially, according to TransmissionHub data.

While pricing details included in the RFI responses will not be made public, the company said the proposed cost per kilowatt hour of energy was in line with other wind energy power purchase agreements recently signed in this region.

“The data received affirms our belief that we will be able to create an attractive option to deliver competitively priced, low-cost renewable energy to the Southeast,” Michael Skelly, Clean Line President, said. “When we add our expected transmission cost to the prices proposed by these wind developers, we can offer a delivered product that competes head to head with all other energy options available to utilities in the southeastern United States.”

Clean Line plans to provide summarized data from the RFI to utilities and regulators in the Southeast that seek to learn more about potential wind resources in the Great Plains region. Data will include the total number of megawatts of wind under development, average wind speeds, and average capacity factors in the Oklahoma Panhandle region.

The transmission line is currently under development, is estimated to cost $2bn and will enable more than $7bn of investment in new wind farms in the region, according to company estimates.