The federal government’s withdrawn its participation in a more than 700 mile transmission line from western Oklahoma wind farms to Arkansas and Tennessee.
The announcement came nearly two years after the U.S. Department of Energy agree to partner with Houston-based Clean Line Energy Partners in developing the $2.2 billion Plains and Eastern transmission line.
The project was under development for eight years but was strongly opposed by landowners in Arkansas who didn’t want 200-foot-high towers on their properties. The DOE’s announcement followed a decision last year by the Tennessee Valley Authority against purchasing any of the electricity. At the time, the TVA said it did not see a need for energy from the Clean Line project.
The Energy Department’s announcement also followed a decision by Clean Line in December 2017 to sell its Oklahoma assets to a unit of NexEra Energy, another wind industry firm with operations in Oklahoma. However, Clean Line maintained ownership of the Arkansas and Tennessee assets.
“The project is not dead, but is no a much slower track,” admitted Sarah Bray, a spokeswoman for Clean Line Energy.
It was in 2016 when the Obama administration gave approval for development of the line under a federal law allowing DOE to partner with private business on transmission. But earlier this year, Arkansas U.S. Senators Tom Cotton and John Boozman urged Energy Secretary Rick Perry to either kill the project or delay it.
In a March 13, 2017 newspaper editorial, Sen. Boozman wrote,” While there is a new resident in the White House, the partnership between the Department of Energy and a private company to build a large power line across the state is a lingering reminder of the overreach that targets the rights of Arkansas landowners.”
He went on to state that the Department of Energy’s decision to partner with Clean Line Energy was a perfect example of everything wrong with the federal government. He said Clean Line Energy went running to the Obama administration for approval after the Arkansas Public Service Commission rejected the 300-mile project across 12 counties.
“I will continue working to halt the project, not just because it violates the property rights of Arkansans, but also because it violates the rights of all Americans to have their voices heard at the state and local level,” vowed Sen. Boozman.