Department of Energy Green Lights Wind Power Transmission Line

Stephen Smith | March 25, 2016 | Energy Policy, Wind
The Plains and Eastern Clean Line project will result in thousands of jobs, including jobs here in the southeast.

The Department of Energy has finalized its review of the Plains and Eastern Clean Line transmission project. The Plains and Eastern Clean Line project will connect substantial quantities of the highest-quality, low-cost wind energy resources right into the southeast.  The review process took several years and evaluated the technical and financial feasibility and whether the project is in the public interest. The Department of Energy’s approval concludes its Section 1222 application and statutory requirements and allows the wind power transmission line to continue the development process.

SACE is pleased to endorse the Plains and Eastern Clean Line project. [Press Release] [Video]

In December, the Plains and Eastern Clean Line project received a favorable Final Environmental Impact Statement. That separate and independent analysis by the Department of Energy “did not identify widespread significant impacts as a result of construction or operations and maintenance of the Project.” In addition to the minimal environmental impacts from the wind energy power line, the analysis “also revealed potential positive impacts to long-term air quality from a displacement of fossil-fuel use for electricity generation and increases in regional jobs and tax revenues as a result of the Project.” Building the wind energy power line will save natural resources, create tens of thousands of jobs, and provide health benefits.

SACE has diligently evaluated the Plains and Eastern Clean Line since 2011.  Over the years, we’ve published save-the-dates for important events, attended stakeholder meetings and worked with stakeholders all across the southeast, reviewed and commented on the federal environmental review, written dozens of blogs, and hosted webinars. We have also conducted countless technical analyses for utility planning purposes and evaluated how high voltage direct current transmission projects could be affected by new federal regulation. We agree with the Department of Energy’s record of decision that this is an environmentally friendly and beneficial project.

The Plains and Eastern Clean Line will connect up to 4,000 megawatts of high quality wind energy resources from Oklahoma’s western panhandle to two electrical converter stations, one near northern Arkansas and another near Memphis, Tennessee. High voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission technology is not new; however, the Plains and Eastern Clean Line’s use of HVDC technology is unique in that it is designated for wind energy resources. HVDC technology can move more power over longer distances with less electrical loss than alternating current (AC) transmission routes; by doing so, HVDC transmission preserves land resources and maximizes clean energy availability.

By providing low-cost wind power into the heavily coal-dependent southeast, the Plains and Eastern Clean Line project represents significant environmental benefits. SACE extends a sincere congratulations and welcomes the clean energy jobs and investments into the Southeast! Congrats Clean Line!

Stephen Smith
Dr. Stephen A. Smith has over 35 years of experience affecting positive change for the environment. Since 1993, Dr. Smith has led the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) as…
My Profile