TVA: The Time to Contract for Clean Line’s Wind Power is Now

This blog entry was written by Allie Brown, former Clean Energy Advocacy Manager at SACE.

Guest Blog | November 22, 2016 | Energy Efficiency, Energy Policy, Utilities, Wind

The time to contract for low cost wind power is now. One of the largest renewable energy projects our region has seen will bring huge amounts of cheap wind energy to the South, but utilities like the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) must act quickly to make wind power purchase commitments by the end of the year to lock in the lowest cost wind power prices available. Sign our petition today & support bringing abundant, clean, cheap wind energy to the Southeast!

The 700-mile Clean Line Plains and Eastern Project is a proposed high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line that will deliver 4,000 megawatts of wind energy from the Oklahoma panhandle region to a converter station in central Arkansas where 500 megawatts of wind power can be dropped off and delivered to the state. The remaining 3,500 megawatts of wind energy will be delivered to Tennessee and made available to the rest of our Southeastern states. The 4,000 megawatts of power that will be produced by the project is equivalent to providing electricity for 1.5 million homes across our region – which is four times the output of the Hoover Dam annually! The project should begin construction in 2017 and should take 2-3 years to complete.

The project is estimated to cost a mere 3 cents per kilowatt-hour. Because there is no fuel cost associated with wind energy, utilities can secure long-term contracts (approximately 20-25 years) and lock in prices that protect their customers from price spikes due to volatility in fossil fuel costs. Southern utilities are already purchasing over 3,000 megawatts of low-cost wind power. The Plains and Eastern project presents an opportunity to increase the amount of low-cost wind energy in these utilities’ portfolios and will save their customers money. Wind power prices are at a record low, often cheaper than natural gas. As TVA phases out 18 coal-fired units, Clean Line’s project provides a perfect solution to help fill in the gaps for electricity needs.

In addition to bringing clean, affordable wind power to the South, the Plains and Eastern Project will also provide additional economic benefits by providing jobs to local employees and businesses to support the construction of the power line. Going forward, the Plains and Eastern Line is estimated to create hundreds of construction jobs in western Tennessee. What’s more, Clean Line estimates that they will pay landowners in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Tennessee over $65 million for easements and structure payments.​

Clean Line’s transmission project is a no-brainer for TVA and other Southern electric companies to buy into. It will help diversify our energy mix, create tens of thousands of jobs, protect natural resources, and provide health benefits by decreasing pollution from fossil-fuel generation in our region.

Critical deadlines regarding the federal production tax credit for wind power are fast approaching. Fortunately, contracts for wind power can be signed today, but can take delivery as late as December 2020, and still qualify for the important tax incentive. We strongly encourage TVA’s board of directors to immediately contract for at least 1,000 megawatts of wind power on the Plains and Eastern Clean Line. We need your help to urge TVA to buy wind power from Clean Line today:

Sign our petition today to urge TVA to take advantage of this low-cost, abundant, clean energy resource that would benefit our region.

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