Library filed under Transmission from Tennessee
As Arkansas' congressional delegation stepped up its war Tuesday on a $2.5 billion wind-power transmission project, Clean Line Energy Partners has confirmed that it has shelved plans to string the controversial power line across Arkansas. Michael Skelly, the company's president, told Arkansas Business that the direct-current project, which would have transmitted 4,000 megawatts of renewable energy from Western Oklahoma to eastern Tennessee, is basically on life support.
The deal was sealed after it became apparent to Clean Line that TVA had little appetite to complete a six-year-old memorandum of understanding to purchase the project’s wind power. Late last year, just weeks after TVA said it was still studying whether to sign the contract, agency President Bill Johnson said the Clean Line project didn’t make economic sense, given TVA’s flat demand and ample generating capacity.
The nation's biggest wind generator, NextEra Energy Resources, has bought the Oklahoma portion of the proposed 700-mile-long Plains and Eastern Line to serve Oklahoma and Midwest customers. But for now, plans to bring wind energy from the windy areas of Oklahoma and Texas into the less-windy Tennessee Valley and Southeastern part of the United States are stalled and unlikely to be resurrected for years.
"TVA has concluded that it doesn't need more power for the foreseeable future. Therefore, its board should resist obligating TVA's ratepayers for any new large power contracts, much less contracts for comparatively expensive and unreliable wind power. Instead, TVA should continue to provide low-cost, reliable power to the region that boosts economic development throughout the Tennessee Valley."
It comes down to whether TVA decides to step up its purchase of wind energy. Fracking has made natural gas abundant and cheap to burn in electric plants. Wind appears costly without tax breaks. But energy analysts figure gas prices eventually will rise. And long-term wind power contracts could lock in prices below the ultimate level gas reaches in a decade or more.
In 2012, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the company's $2 billion proposal to transmit wind power from the Great Plains to Memphis and the Southeast. That ruling authorized the Houston -based firm to begin negotiating transmission service agreements with potential buyers of the power, including TVA .
The Tennesseee Valley Authority favors a Houston company's effort to build an electrical connection between windmills in Oklahoma and Texas and power users in the Tennessee Valley. The proposed $3.5 billion project would use direct current rather than the alternating current.