Delivering low-cost renewable energy to the Southeast

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.

Clean Line to Deliver Wind Power to 1.5 Million Southern Homes

Huge amounts of wind power may soon make its way to Arkansas, Tennessee and the rest of the Southeast. Last Friday, the U.S. Secretary of Energy, Dr. Ernest Moniz, announced that Department of Energy’s (DOE) participation in a new transmission project that will deliver low-cost wind energy to the South. The DOE issued their “record of decision,” completing Section 1222 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 evaluation of the transmission project.

Wind Power Provides 40% of Electricity to Southwest Power Pool

Late in the evening on February 18th, wind energy provided more energy to the Southwest Power Pool electric grid than coal, natural gas or nuclear power. At roughly 11PM, wind power generated nearly 40% of all the electricity in the SPP region, which includes Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and portions of New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana. Meanwhile, the region received the remainder of its electricity from coal (37%), natural gas (11%), nuclear (10%) and hydro power (2%). That’s right: renewable energy provided more energy than either fossil fuels or nuclear reactors.

Favorable Environmental Review Green Lights Wind Energy Power Line 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 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.

First Legal Challenge to the Clean Power Plan Dismissed

Today, the DC Circuit dismissed the first legal challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. The lawsuit, filed by the coal industry and several coal dependent states, claimed that EPA lacked the authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-fired power plants. Ultimately, the DC Circuit found the legal challenge premature, given that EPA has yet to release the final version of the Clean Power Plan – which is expected to arrive in August.

Natural State Benefits from Wind Power

According to the American Wind Energy Association, Arkansas is also currently home to approximately 5 wind energy-related manufacturing facilities serving the domestic and international wind industry markets. In 2013, there were between 101 and 500 direct and indirect jobs provided by the wind industry in Arkansas. Developing land-based wind in the state could greatly add to local economic benefits and create more wind energy-related jobs.

Lengthy Environmental Review Covers Bases for Wind Power Transmission

The Plains and Eastern Clean Line, a high voltage direct current transmission project, would connect more than 3,500 megawatts of high quality, low cost wind power from western Oklahoma and Texas deep into Arkansas and Tennessee. The 720 mile long power line is presently undergoing a federal environmental impact statement review by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Weighing in at 3,700 pages, the hulking review document exhaustively covers just about any impact the project may have.

Wind Power Transmission Project Could Create Tens of Thousands of Jobs

The Plains and Eastern Clean Line project would connect up to 4,000 megawatts of wind power capacity to the southeast. As part of the federal Department of Energy’s Environmental Impact Statement review, the DOE estimates the socioeconomic impacts of the proposed 720-mile high voltage direct current transmission project. Job creation estimates are included in the socioeconomic impacts portions of the EIS. Based on the EIS jobs estimates, lifetime job estimates may conservatively approach tens of thousands of jobs for the Plains and Eastern Clean Line project.

Wind Power Transmission Project Would Provide Health Benefits

A newly proposed transmission project would connect high quality wind power to the southeast. The proposed Plains and Eastern Clean Line project would provide up to 4,000 megawatts of wind power from western Oklahoma and Texas to the southeast. The project is currently undergoing a federal Department of Energy Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) review process to evaluate potential impacts from the 720-mile high voltage direct current transmission project. Instead of focusing solely on negative impacts, the EIS also weighs a few of the benefits of the proposed project.

How to Review an Environmental Impact Statement

This blog is the first in a series reviewing the proposed Plains and Eastern Clean Line project. Other blogs in the series will be available here when published. The Plains and Eastern Clean Line, a high voltage direct current transmission project, would connect more than 3,500 megawatts of high quality, low cost wind power from western Oklahoma [...]