A favorable final environmental analysis of a proposed wind energy power line has just been published. According to the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Plains and Eastern Clean Line project, the Department of Energy “did not identify widespread significant impacts as a result of construction or operations and maintenance of the Project.”
The favorable environmental assessment helps pave the way for up to 4,000 megawatts of wind power to be delivered into the South. That amount of wind power could generate as much electricity as is consumed by nearly 1.5 million southern homes and would more than double the amount of wind power purchased in the region. Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power, the Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) are already purchasing over 3,000 megawatts of wind power, with utilities planning to purchase gigawatts more.
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.
The next step for the Plains and Eastern Clean Line wind energy power line is for the Department of Energy to issue its “record of decision” (ROD) through the Energy Policy Act of 2005’s Section 1222 process. Such a decision may occur before the end of this year, enabling construction of the power line to begin in 2016 or 2017.