Clean Line: A TVA Failure of Clean Energy and Environmental Leadership

Thee Tennessee Valley Authority is abdicating its role as a utility leader and its customers will be left holding the bag. In its biggest blow to renewable energy development, TVA has effectively killed the Plains and Eastern Clean Line high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission project.

Clearing the Air: Lamar Alexander, You’re Wrong About Wind Power

Sen. Alexander says that wind power is expensive. However, his information is outdated. With its considerable wind energy resources, Oklahoma had the lowest electricity prices in the country last year. Tennessee ranked #28. Analysis by Leidos Electrical shows that Plains and Eastern Clean Line project could more than likely reduce electric rates in the Tennessee Valley, and beyond. In November 2016, Lazard Associates published their annual Levelized Cost of Energy analysis showing that the lowest cost wind power resources reach $14/MWh (1.4 cents per kilowatt hour, kWh). A new report from Moody’s Investor Services reports wind power prices for $15/MWh (1.5 cents per kWh). In 2015, Georgia Power received wind power proposals with pricing of $15.77/MWh (1.577 cents per kWh). As an already-operating wind project, the Balko Wind project in western Oklahoma sold wind power to the Public Service Company of Oklahoma for $15.80/MWh (1.58 cents per kWh). HVDC transmission charges may add an additional 2 cents per kWh. Additionally, TVA can earn revenue by using their existing transmission system to “wheel” low-cost wind power to power-hungry neighbors.

TVA: The Time to Contract for Clean Line’s Wind Power is Now

The time to contract for low cost wind power is now. The largest renewable energy project in the making is a proposed power line that will bring huge amounts of cheap, wind energy to the South, but electric companies must act quickly.

Department of Energy Green Lights Wind Power Transmission Line

The Plains and Eastern Clean Line will connect up to 4,000 megawatts of high quality wind energy resources from Oklahoma’s western panhandle to two electrical converter stations, one near northern Arkansas and another near Memphis, Tennessee. High voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission technology is not new; however, the Plains and Eastern Clean Line’s use of HVDC technology is unique in that it is designated for wind energy resources. HVDC technology can move more power over longer distances with less electrical loss than alternating current (AC) transmission routes; by doing so, HVDC transmission preserves land resources and maximizes clean energy availability.

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.

Massive Wind Power Opportunities for Tennessee

Tennessee is home to the Southeast’s first wind farm, the Buffalo Mountain wind project. This wind farm was installed nearly a decade ago and is still meeting performance goals and expectations. Several other wind farms have been proposed in Tennessee. Meanwhile, the Tennessee Valley Authority is currently purchasing over 1,500 megawatts of wind power from the upper-Plains states. High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) transmission projects, like the Plains and Eastern project, would inject thousands of megawatts of new high quality, low cost wind power for the Volunteer State.

Wind Power Transmission Project Would Save Natural Resources

Compared to Clean Line’s one-time-use of 5,916 acres that can ultimately be returned to production, it’s clear the Plains and Eastern Clean Line project is a net benefit to natural resource conservation. The Plains and Eastern Clean Line project footprint is smaller than other forms of existing power generation, without the corresponding negative health effects.

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 […]