Clean Line Energy and GE Energy Connections have announced that they will be collaborating on the development of America’s largest clean energy infrastructure project – the Plains & Eastern Clean Line.
According to the companies, the transmission project will be the first overhead high-voltage, direct-current (HVDC) project in the U.S. in more than 20 years, noting that HVDC transmission systems provide the most efficient means of connecting wind generation to distant end-use customers.
The Plains & Eastern Clean Line is a $2.5 billion, 720-mile electric transmission infrastructure project with the capacity to deliver 4,000 MW of low-cost, clean energy from the Oklahoma Panhandle to more than 1 million homes in Arkansas, Tennessee and other states in the Mid-South and Southeast.
With this announcement, GE says it has been selected as the exclusive provider of the HVDC converter stations, paving the way for the company’s first HVDC project in the U.S. since acquiring Alstom’s energy businesses in 2015.
As previously reported, GE reached an agreement with the France-based conglomerate in 2014 to purchase the power and grid businesses for $13.61 billion. Adjusting for the joint ventures announced in June 2014 (renewables, grid and nuclear), changes in the deal structure, price adjustments for remedies, net cash at close and the effects of currency, the purchase price settled at approximately $10.6 billion.
Michael Skelly, president of Clean Line Energy, says, “[The Plains & Eastern Clean Line] will benefit from the experience and leadership that GE brings to bear in modernizing the U.S. electric grid. They have been at the forefront of many of our nation’s largest infrastructure projects and will ensure that leading technology will be used to provide affordable, clean energy to the Mid-South and Southeast.”
“We are excited to see GE, the world’s premier digital industrial company, working with Clean Line Energy on a transmission line that will harness and export Oklahoma’s great wind resource,” says Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin. “Our Oklahoma First Energy Plan advocates an all-of-the-above energy strategy, and we are proud to see GE once again involved in an effort that will ensure Oklahoma continues to be a leader in all energy production for decades to come.”
In March, the U.S. Department of Energy agreed to participate in the development of the Plains & Eastern Clean Line and to help move it forward.
Construction of the project is expected to begin in the second half of 2017.
The companies state that the contribution of wind energy to the U.S. electricity mix has grown from 0.4% to 4.7% over the past decade. Considering that growing demand in the U.S. for renewable energy depends upon the ability to access remote wind energy resources, new HVDC transmission lines are necessary to connect these homes and businesses to less expensive electricity 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. GE expects that serving as the exclusive provider of the HVDC converter stations for the Plains & Eastern Clean Line will further strengthen that position.
As reported, Clean Line has already secured an agreement with the City of Tallahassee, Fla., for the purchase of up to 50 MW of wind power delivered via the Plains & Eastern Clean Line.
“We commend Tallahassee for taking a leadership position and agreeing to provide their customers with access to some of the lowest-cost wind energy in the country,” says Skelly. “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.”
Andrew Gohn, policy director for Eastern states at the American Wind Energy Association, adds, “This type of agreement allows cities the ability to access world-class wind resources and deliver big savings to consumers. 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. The Plains & Eastern Clean Line will deliver clean, reliable, low-cost electricity for all those who plug things in for years to come.”