A project that would develop wind farms and build a $3.5 billion transmission line from far western Oklahoma into Tennessee has cleared a regulatory hurdle that allows a company to being lining up customers.
The Plains and Eastern Clean Line project won approval Wednesday from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to strike deals with utilities to purchase up to 75 percent of the 7,000 megawatts of electricity that'll be distributed through the line.
The Tulsa World reported (http://is.gd/Hk0VSB ) Wednesday that Clean Line has already lined up contractor agreements, including a $300 million deal with a Claremore-based Pelco Structural LLC to supply support poles for the line.
The project would involve stringing 800 miles of transmission lines from the western end of the Oklahoma panhandle through Arkansas and into Tennessee. The project is to be developed in two phases of 3,500 megawatts each.
The Plains and Eastern Clean Line could be completed by late 2017. Once done, the electricity would be enough to power 2 million homes.
Construction is projected to begin on the line in 2014 and last two or three years. Wind turbines in western Oklahoma, southwestern Kansas and the Texas Panhandle will supply the energy. The company says that wind farms that are to connect to the transmission line can be built in less than two years.
The project would be funded through the sale of transmission capacity to wind energy producers or utilities receiving the electricity.
Plains & Eastern estimates that 10,000 construction jobs would be created to build the line and the wind farms. And about 1,000 permanent workers will be needed to maintain and operate the transmission line and the wind farms.
"This approval takes Clean Line a step closer to building a clean energy future for the Southeast," parent firm Clean Line Energy Partners LP CEO Michael Skelly said in a news release.
Last year, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission approved the project's utility status.
"The Plains & Eastern Clean Line will create jobs, while enabling billions of dollars of investments in Oklahoma's clean energy industry," Oklahoma Secretary of Energy Michael Ming said. $3.5B Okla. wind energy power line wins approval