Clean Line signs deal with Tallahassee, Fla., to move wind power on Plains & Eastern project

Clean Line Energy Partners (Clean Line) on Jan. 25 announced an agreement with the city of Tallahassee, Fla., that states the city’s intention to buy up to 50 MW of wind power to be delivered on the proposed Plains & Eastern Clean Line (Plains & Eastern) high-voltage transmission project.

The $2bn Plains &Eastern project is designed as a 700-mile, direct-current line that would stretch from Oklahoma to Tennessee, with a capacity to move up to 4,000 MW to utilities and customers in the Mid-South and Southeast markets. The 500-kV project received a final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in November 2015.

Clean Line said that the city of Tallahassee plans to buy wind power from the Oklahoma Panhandle region.

The city has not reached a deal on a purchased power agreement (PPA) at this point, but has committed to explore opportunities to acquire wind power supplies in the region, David Byrne, manager of electric system integrated planning with the municipal utility, told TransmissionHub Jan. 25.

The city expects to enter into a PPA with a wind power supplier or group of suppliers at some point, with the earliest possible delivery date being in 2019, Byrne said. The city has a memorandum of understanding with Plains & Eastern outlining the commitment to explore wind power supply options for delivery using the Plains & Eastern project and subsequent interconnections with transmission facilities to move power from the end point of the project in Tennessee to Tallahassee, he told TransmissionHub.

Clean Line praised Tallahassee for agreeing to provide municipal utility customers with access to what it called some of the lowest-cost wind energy in the country.

“This is another important step for the Plains & Eastern Clean Line and we look forward to helping Tallahassee to deliver on their commitment to increase their clean energy usage while keeping costs low,” Michael Skelly, president of Clean Line, said in a statement.

“Building new transmission is essential to bring the lowest-cost wind in the country to places where the majority of American families live and businesses operate,” added Andrew Gohn, eastern state policy director for the American Wind Energy Association.

Construction of the Plains & Eastern project is estimated to begin in 2017, and take two to three years to complete.

The agreement with Tallahassee marked the second such arrangement for the Plains & Eastern project, following a May 2015 deal with four cooperatives in East Texas that provides the co-ops with an option to own up to 50 MW of capacity on the transmission line and a portion of the project’s assets. The generation and transmission co-ops are the East Texas Electric Cooperative, Northeast Texas Electric Cooperative, Sam Rayburn Generation and Transmission Cooperative and Tex-La Electric Cooperative of Texas.

When it issued the final EIS, DOE stated its preference to participate in the project through the Southwestern Power Administration (Southwestern), which was the first time DOE indicated such a preference.

A record of decision from DOE on that element, which would come under Section 1222 of the Energy Policy Act, was expected by the end of 2015.

“We hope for the decision to come soon,” a spokesperson for Clean Line told TransmissionHub Jan. 25.

Partnering with Southwestern would allow Clean Line to operate in Arkansas, where state regulators in 2011 denied the company’s application for utility states, Skelly noted in November.

The final EIS identified a preferred route for the transmission line and facilities in Oklahoma and Arkansas. However, DOE’s possible participation would be limited to states where Southwestern operates, which does not include Tennessee, and the final EIS does not include a DOE preference for the location of the transmission line or converter state in Tennessee, Clean Line noted in November.