The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has released its final environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed Plains & Eastern Clean Line transmission project, and developer Clean Line Energy says this represents a significant project milestone.
The multi-billion-dollar infrastructure project is an approximately 700-mile overhead direct current (DC) transmission line designed to deliver 4 GW of clean energy from the Oklahoma Panhandle region to customers in Arkansas, Tennessee and other states in the mid-South and Southeast.
The final EIS presents a thorough analysis and comparison of the potential environmental impacts of the proposed project, responds to public comments the DOE received regarding the draft EIS, and identifies the DOE's participation in the project through the Southwestern Power Administration as its preferred alternative.
Based on the analysis presented in the final EIS, the DOE identified a preferred route for the transmission line and has also identified its preferred locations for a delivery converter station in Arkansas, as well as a converter station and associated project facilities in Oklahoma.
Clean Line says the DOE's participation in the project would be limited to states in which Southwestern operates; therefore, the DOE does not does not indicate a preference for the location of the transmission line or the converter station in Tennessee.
According to the developer, the final EIS "did not identify widespread significant impacts as a result of construction or operations and maintenance of the project." The DOE also concluded that implementation of the environmental protection measures that Clean Line included as an integral part of the project would avoid or minimize the potential for significant environmental effects.
"The release of the final EIS marks the culmination of more than five years of work and the consideration of thousands of stakeholder comments," says Michael Skelly, president of Clean Line Energy.
The Plains & Eastern Clean Line will provide around $1 billion of private investment in Oklahoma and will grow Oklahoma's clean energy economy by enabling several billions of dollars of investment in new renewable energy facilities in the Oklahoma Panhandle region.
"We are very encouraged by the release of today's Final EIS because it brings us one step closer to expanding our nation's interstate electric transmission backbone and meeting the growing demand for wind energy in the United States," said
Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, says his group is "encouraged" by the release of the final EIS.
"The Plains & Eastern Clean Line is a critical component of this needed transmission expansion and will deliver low-cost, reliable wind power from the Oklahoma Panhandle, where an enormous amount of potential wind farm capacity is waiting to be developed, to Americans in the mid-South and Southeast United States," says Kiernan. "The line, by itself, will carry four times more electricity than the Hoover Dam generates, so this is a very big development indeed in American clean energy."
Clean Line expects a record of decision (ROD) will include the DOE's decision on whether and how the agency and Southwestern Power Administration would participate in the project and the agency's decision regarding the preferred locations for project facilities in Oklahoma and Arkansas. Clean Line anticipates that the DOE may issue the ROD in late 2015, no sooner than 30 days after the publication of the notice of availability in the Federal Register.