GE Energy Connections selected as exclusive provider of HVDC converter stations for Clean Line Energy project

Clean Line Energy Partners and GE Energy Connections (NYSE:GE) on Nov. 1 announced their collaboration in the development of Clean Line Energy’s Plains & Eastern Clean Line transmission project, with GE selected as the exclusive provider of the HVDC converter stations.

The estimated $2.5bn, 720-mile transmission project involves three converter stations, Cary Kottler, executive vice president and general counsel of Clean Line Energy, told TransmissionHub on Nov. 3.

The project “starts from the Oklahoma Panhandle region, so there will be a converter station there” that will collect about 4,000 MW of wind power, he said.

“[T]hen, there will be a transmission line that goes from that converter station and heads to the east,” he said. “Then, there will be two delivery converter stations to offload the power and deliver it to the places where it’s needed.”

The second converter station will be in Arkansas and it will be a delivery converter station, and the third one will be in Tennessee, and it “will also deliver power to Tennessee that can be used throughout the Tennessee Valley and through the Southeast,” he said.

Clean Line Energy owns the converter stations in Oklahoma and Tennessee, and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is the owner of the converter station in Arkansas, Kottler said, noting that the project is a joint partnership with DOE.

As noted in the Nov. 1 statement, DOE in March agreed to participate in the development of the project and to help move it forward. Construction of the project is expected to begin in the second half of 2017, the statement noted.

The project “has all the key approvals that we need to proceed to construction,” Kottler said, adding that as with any big infrastructure project like the Plains & Eastern project, “you’re going to have continuing environmental permitting obligations, but we have all the key approvals that we need.”

The project is expected to be in service in 2020, he said.

Russell Stokes, president and CEO of GE Energy Connections said in the statement, “Our exclusive agreement to provide HVDC technology for the Plains & Eastern Clean Line Project will pave the way for substantial growth in the U.S. renewable energy industry.”

Clean Line Energy President Michael Skelly said in the statement, “This project will benefit from the experience and leadership that GE brings to bear in modernizing the U.S. electric grid.”

Growing demand in the United States for renewable energy depends upon the ability to access remote wind energy resources, according to the statement, which also noted that new HVDC transmission lines are necessary to connect those homes and businesses to less expensive electricity that is generated hundreds of miles away.

With its purchase of Alstom’s energy portfolio last year, GE acquired one of the top three HVDC solutions providers, according to the statement.

Other Clean Line Energy projects

Kottler provided an update on other Clean Line Energy projects. For instance, he noted that Clean Line Energy has obtained the permits needed for the Grain Belt Express Project in three of the four states for that project, “and we’re currently going through the regulatory process in Missouri.”

The company anticipates obtaining Missouri regulatory approval in 2017, and expects that project to come online in 2021, he said.

According to the company’s website, the Grain Belt Express Clean Line project is an approximately 780-mile overhead, direct current transmission line that would deliver wind energy from western Kansas to utilities and customers in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and neighboring states.

The company is also “working hard” on the Western Spirit Clean Line project in New Mexico, Kottler said.

According to the company’s website, that project would transport clean power via an approximately 140-mile transmission line, collecting renewable power from east-central New Mexico and delivering about 1,000 MW of power to markets in the western United States that have a strong demand for clean energy.

The company is “currently assessing the next steps” on its Rock Island Clean Line project, which has seen “interesting regulatory and legal issues” come up through the permitting process, which the company is working through now, Kottler said.

According to the company’s website, that project is a 500-mile overhead HVDC transmission line that would deliver 3,500 MW from northwest Iowa and the surrounding region to communities in Illinois and other states to the east, areas that have a strong demand for clean energy.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3065 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 15 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at clinares@endeavorb2b.com.