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Clean Line turned down in Arkansas

" ... (T)he Commission's decision is based on the fact it cannot grant public utility status to Clean Line based on the information about its current business plan and present lack of plans to serve customers in Arkansas. ...Without pre-judging any future plans Clean Line may have or may bring before the Commission, the Commission denies Clean Line's request" for issuance of a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity.

WOODWARD - Earlier this week, the three-member Arkansas Public Service Commission denied Clean Line Energy Partners' request to be considered a public utility in that state.

However, the Houston-based wind energy company said it plans to continue to work with the Arkansas commission as it moves toward construction of two high-voltage transmission lines that would span Oklahoma and Arkansas, to carry electricity from a Guymon area wind farm to southeastern U.S. energy markets.

Clean Line Executive Vice President Mario Hurtado said the Arkansas decision has not affected its bid to become a public utility in Oklahoma. A hearing on that bid is set for Wednesday through Friday before the Oklahoma Corporation Commission's administrative law judge Jacqueline T. Miller, according to Matt Skinner, spokesman for OCC.

However, Skinner said the agency had no comment on the Arkansas decision.

The Arkansas decision

Current plans for the Clean Line transmission lines would not allow either Oklahoma or Arkansas to tap directly into the proposed $3.5 billion project as it goes through their states.

According to legal documents from the Arkansas Public Service Commission, this was a... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

WOODWARD - Earlier this week, the three-member Arkansas Public Service Commission denied Clean Line Energy Partners' request to be considered a public utility in that state.

However, the Houston-based wind energy company said it plans to continue to work with the Arkansas commission as it moves toward construction of two high-voltage transmission lines that would span Oklahoma and Arkansas, to carry electricity from a Guymon area wind farm to southeastern U.S. energy markets.

Clean Line Executive Vice President Mario Hurtado said the Arkansas decision has not affected its bid to become a public utility in Oklahoma. A hearing on that bid is set for Wednesday through Friday before the Oklahoma Corporation Commission's administrative law judge Jacqueline T. Miller, according to Matt Skinner, spokesman for OCC.

However, Skinner said the agency had no comment on the Arkansas decision.

The Arkansas decision

Current plans for the Clean Line transmission lines would not allow either Oklahoma or Arkansas to tap directly into the proposed $3.5 billion project as it goes through their states.

According to legal documents from the Arkansas Public Service Commission, this was a factor influencing its decision to deny "public convenience" status to Clean Line.

" ... (T)he Commission's decision is based on the fact it cannot grant public utility status to Clean Line based on the information about its current business plan and present lack of plans to serve customers in Arkansas," the document reads. "Without pre-judging any future plans Clean Line may have or may bring before the Commission, the Commission denies Clean Line's request" for issuance of a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity.

Hurtado said the Arkansas commission's decision helps give Clean Line a sense of direction as to what the company needs to do next.

"(The public service commission) was very supportive of our work and testimony," Hurtado said. "We're going to continue to work with them.

"We know that we're trying to break the mold on the delivery of electricity, and that's a hard thing to do," he said.

Reason for concern?

The Arkansas Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity is similar to what Clean Line desires in Oklahoma.

However, several entities, including the citizen group Southern Great Plains Property Rights Coalition, have objected to Clean Line's request.

The property rights group is concerned about Clean Line being allowed to employ eminent domain, which is granted to public utilities in Oklahoma, to acquire right-of-way.

Coalition leader said they are not against wind energy development but want to have landowners treated fairly by the company, particularly in terms of payment of royalties.

However, Hurtado has said Clean Line developed a landowners' bill of rights to help accommodate property owners. It was submitted along with other documents from Clean Line in its public utility proposal to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.

In addition, he said Clean Line has been working to cooperate with the Southern Plains coalition and other Oklahoma groups, even more so than it worked with groups in Arkansas.

A proposed settlement between the company and several objecting groups remains under discussion, which will be covered in the administrative law judge's hearing later this month, officials said.

"We're still working on the language in the agreement," said Sue Selman, of Southern Great Plains Property Rights Coalition.

She said any agreement reached by the parties will be moot if OCC denies Clean Line's request.

A positive outlook

Hurtado said Clean Line is looking forward to the discussion that will occur with the administrative law judge later this month and the Oklahoma Corporation Commission meeting that will follow to review the judge's findings.

"It's important for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to hear what the project is about," he said. "We're encouraged by the number of letters and calls the commissioners have received in support."

However, should the OCC also turn down Clean Line's bid to become a public utility, Hurtado said, "We will work hard to address any issues that may be raised and continue to move the project along.

"We are hopeful that the OCC won't be influenced by short-term decisions in Arkansas," Hurtado added.

Hurtado said wind farms depend on transmission lines, such as the ones Clean Line is attempting to build in the two states.

"Without new transmission (lines), very few new wind farms will be built," he said. "It's that simple."

In a related matter, Arkansas-based Southwest Power Pool filed with the OCC to request permission to intervene in the case, even though submission of the motion is past the stated intervention period. Southwest Power Pool is concerned about maintaining reliability of its system as Clean Line's transmission system would interconnect with the power pool's system.


Source: http://enidnews.com/localne...

JAN 15 2011
http://www.windaction.org/posts/29698-clean-line-turned-down-in-arkansas
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