The Woodward News

July 4, 2013

DOE report on transmission line available

Rowynn Ricks
Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — The U.S. Department of Energy has released its Scoping Summary Report for the proposed 700-mile long Plains & Eastern Clean Line Transmission Project.

Additional information and a PDF version of the 74-page report is available for download at http://www.plainsandeasterneis.com/.

As part of the Plains & Eastern project, the Houston-based Clean Line Energy is proposing to build high voltage direct current electric transmission lines with the capacity to deliver around 3,500 megawatts of electricity from wind farms and other power sources in the Oklahoma Panhandle to connect with the Tennessee Valley Authority in Shelby County, Tenn.  The project will traverse Oklahoma, Arkansas and western Tennessee as it seeks to help supply electricity to load-serving entities in the southeast United States.

The recently released Scoping Summary Report outlines the scope of investigation that has been identified for the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) being prepared by the Department of Energy (DOE) for the Plains & Eastern Clean Line project.

The report was compiled after the DOE conducted a series of public meetings earlier this year along the 700-mile corridor where Clean Line has proposed to build the transmission lines.  This included 2 public meetings which were held in Woodward to gain input from area residents about potential environmental impacts of the proposed project.

During these local meetings, a variety of concerns were discussed ranging from worries about the amount of noise generated by the transmission lines, to questions about health hazards, to anxiety over how close the lines could be built to homes, to unease over the overall impact on the aesthetic view of the land, to fears about harming the lesser prairie chicken population.

The DOE will use the Scoping Summary Report and the list of concerns identified within it as a guide as it prepares a draft EIS, which is expected to be completed sometime this fall.  When the draft EIS is prepared a notice of availability will be posted in the Federal Register, which will begin a pubic comment period of at least 45 days.  

The public will then have the opportunity to review the draft EIS to determine if any environmental concerns have been overlooked or not fully addressed, and report those issues for consideration before the DOE prepares a final EIS.  

This final EIS document is what the DOE will use in determining whether to participate in the transmission line project, and if so, to what extent it will participate.  Among other reasons, Clean Line Energy is seeking DOE participation in the project so that it can obtain public utility status on a federal level.

The company has previously been granted public utility status on the state level in Oklahoma, but a similar request in Arkansas was denied.  

Having public utility status will allow Clean Line to use eminent domain and condemnation procedures as it seeks to obtain easement rights over properties where it wants to construct the transmission lines.