Delivering low-cost renewable energy to the Southeast

Brazil's Linhão do Madeira is a 1,500 mile long HVDC transmission line. HVDC transmission lines require less than half the land needed for conventional AC transmission lines to carry the same amount of power.

One of the lead quotes in today’s Utility Dive article cites problems with “how to pay for” new transmission to help share renewable energy across the eastern U.S. – but the article then goes on to detail how two companies are moving forward with high-capacity transmission lines.

Two pieces of big news have come recently from independent, or merchant, transmission developers now working on new HVDC lines to market to power producers and load serving entities (LSEs).

These two companies have proven that there is strong investor commitment to building new transmission lines. These lines will be the “pipelines” needed to deliver wind power from the best wind producing region in the country, to the market with the least wind resource penetration.

Wind resources from western Oklahoma and Texas – where the Clean Line and Pattern Energy transmission line projects will source wind – are being marketed at prices around $20-30 per MWh. That’s comparable to the price of operating a modern natural gas power plant, making wind not only cost-effective but a guaranteed low-cost electricity source for decades in the future.

Talk is cheap. Clean Line and Pattern Energy are building infrastructure that will make a difference to the future of our economy and our global environment. And, as the Utility Dive article explains, these are just the first steps towards that future.


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Check the wind resource offshore of Georgia, for example. No need for expensive and destructive transmission lines, their capital costs, nor their service costs!

Comment by Carol A Overland on October 29, 2016 4:43 pm

Being built? Not for Clean Line Energy, LLC. They have not built any infrastructure nor delivered any electricity to anyone anywhere. NONE. They are a company of 47 employees, no utility trucks, no customers, no revenue (their investors write their checks) hoping to complete just one of their proposed 5 projects that have their own legal issues. To succeed with Plains and Eastern they must show they have ratepayers in TN, they don’t. They must show they have suppliers of wind energy, the can’t. They must show they have the necessary funding, they can’t. They are being sued in Circuit Court in Arkansas, relying on a controversial section 1222, originating from the same office one of their founders occuried, of the 2005 Energy Policy Act. The Emperor, in this case Clean Line, has no clothes.

Comment by Steve MacDonald on October 30, 2016 3:41 pm

Thanks for your comment, Carol! We agree, offshore wind resources are a big part of our energy future, we’ve been working on that issue for over a decade.

But I beg to differ on the lack of a need for expensive transmission lines. Right now, one of the major obstacles to offshore wind and ocean current power is the high cost of transmission lines. Without companies experienced in building offshore transmission lines along the east coast, initial costs are expected to be very high. HVDC projects cost 1 or maybe 2 cents per kWh, so they are not really expensive relative to the total cost of energy. It is anticipated that once we gain experience and build up an offshore wind industry, then the offshore transmission costs will drop to levels that are comparable to the HVDC projects (although more expensive than land-based transmission on a per mile basis).

Comment by John D. Wilson on October 30, 2016 5:10 pm

Thanks Steve for your comment. You’re correct, Clean Line has not yet begun construction on their Plains and Eastern project. However, they do have a number of contracts and agreements in place to begin construction very soon. SACE has been engaged with the Plains and Eastern project for five years and we’ve reviewed both the environmental impact statement, as well as the Section 1222 application and approval. We endorsed the project earlier this year due to its ability to deliver low cost wind power to the south, as well as the thorough review process.

Comment by Simon Mahan on October 31, 2016 11:04 am

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