Wind power is about to get a needed boost of support via a 705-mile transmission line. Approved by the DOE, the Plains & Eastern Clean Line Project will deliver up to 4,000 MW of wind power from the Oklahoma and Texas panhandle regions to customers in the Mid-South and Southeast. The infrastructure will move remote but plentiful power to areas where electricity is in high demand, supplying enough power for 1.5 million homes.
The project will address infrastructure challenges outlined in the 2015 Quadrennial Energy Review (QER), which provides recommendations for energy transmission, storage and distribution infrastructure. The QER found that new long-distance transmission capacity like Clean Line has the potential to enable lower carbon electricity, enhance system reliability and operate at a reasonable cost to consumers.
Rather than alternating current (AC) transmission lines as are traditionally used for grid infrastructure, the project will rely on high voltage direct current (HVDC). This system can move more power with lower electrical losses. Higher efficiency means a lower transmission cost, helping renewable energy compete with other power sources. HVDC transmission lines also require narrower right-of-way footprints than equivalent AC lines.
A number of protections for taxpayers, ratepayers and land owners have been put in place. For example, the project will include a 500 MW converter station in Arkansas to ensure that consumers in the state can benefit from the renewable energy delivered by the project. The participation agreement also ensures that no liability falls on the ratepayers if the project were ever to fail.