The U.S. Department of Energy announced today that it would participate in the Plains and Eastern Clean Line Project to move electricity produced by wind in Oklahoma and Texas over a 705-mile transmission line through Arkansas to Tennessee.
The Arkansas congressional delegation, all Republicans, quickly issued a statement decrying the decision. They said it usurped state control over transmission lines. They’ve been trying to pass legislation to prevent this.
Noted: The same Arkansas Republicans have been supportive of a pipeline carrying dangerous Canadian tar sands through the Great Plains in the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, despite local opposition in those states. That line doesn’t pass through Arkansas.
Three Arkansas companies will get working making components of the line, the Energy Department release noted. Also, a converter station will be built in Arkansas so that power can be supplied in the state, not just carried through to others. Payments in lieu of taxes will be made for federal land and assets that otherwise would be untaxable.
The Sierra Club doesn’t share the GOP congressmen’s dim view of the project.
“The Sierra Club is celebrating today’s decision, which is a giant step toward bringing clean energy to our state and region,” said Glen Hooks, Director of the Arkansas Sierra Club. “Putting thousands of megawatts of clean wind energy onto the grid—including 500 megawatts for Arkansas—will undoubtedly lead to less dirty coal and gas being burned for electricity. We are on our way to cleaner air, healthier citizens, and a booming clean energy economy.”
Golden Bridge LLC, a group formed to represent the interests of landowners affected by the line, issued this statement:
While we are disappointed with the the decision, there are numerous legal, procedural, and meritorious questions, raised by multiple parties, we believe are still unanswered. We have long felt the fate of the Plains and Eastern project will not be decided by the DOE or Clean Line, but rather in a court of law.
Going forward, our focus will be educating landowners about their rights, the process, the powers (or lack thereof) that have been granted to Clean Line, as well as the legal options available to them as we evaluate the contents of the Record of Decision and other documents.