The Woodward News

Local News

March 7, 2013

Concerns discussed at meeting

Woodward, Okla. — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) returned to Woodward on Monday to gather more public input on the proposed Plains & Eastern Clean Line transmission line project.

Through the Plains & Eastern project, the Houston-based Clean Line Energy is proposing to build high voltage direct current electric transmission line with the capacity to deliver around 3,500 megawatts from wind farms and other power sources in the Oklahoma Panhandle to connect with the Tennessee Valley Authority near Memphis, Tenn.  The project will traverse approximately 700 miles across Oklahoma, Arkansas and western Tennessee as it seeks to help supply electricity to load-serving entities in the southeast United States.

Staff from the DOE, it's contractors, and Clean Line Energy were previously in Woodward on Jan. 31 as part of a series of public scoping meetings held across a 3 state region to gather input on the potential environmental impacts of the project.

However, there was an error with the addresses on postcards mailed prior to the Jan. 31 meeting that were meant to inform area landowners who might be impacted by the project about the upcoming meeting.

Jane Summerson is a DOE NEPA compliance officer, whose job is to lead the public scoping meetings and ensure that the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is followed as the DOE considers potential participation in the Clean Line project.

"We received reports that a number of people were not receiving their postcards or had not heard about the meeting," Summerson said.

She said her staff then did some research and discovered "an error in the software so that the line that had the name of the city and the zip code was transposed to another house address in our list, so they all turned out to be false addresses."

"Better than 60 percent of the addresses were wrong in the Woodward County area," she said.

Because such a large majority of people in the area who may be personally impacted by the project may have not had the opportunity to participate in the original meeting, Summerson said her team decided to return to Woodward.

"We were not required to come back, but we want the input," she said.  "This whole process works better when we have more information and input. So we decided to come back."

And in looking over the crowd that made it out for Monday's meeting at the Woodward Conference Center, Summerson said she believed the second trip was worthwhile.

"Overall I think it's a different group of people than we had last time," she said.  "There's a few more people and several are different than those who attended the previous meeting so I think we've reached a broader range of the community, which is what we want."

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