Clean Line Energy representatives meet with Poinsett County residents
Plains and Eastern Clean Line representatives were in Poinsett County last week to meet with locals and answer questions about the Clean Line project, an electric transmission which would connect clean energy from wind farms in the Oklahoma Panhandle to the Mid-South.
Representatives had two informational meetings in Poinsett County, one at the Courthouse Annex in Harrisburg on Tuesday, July 15, and one at ASUN-Marked Tree on Thursday, July 17.
According to Chris Hardy, one of several associates with Clean Line Energy Partners available for questions, the purpose of the long haul transmission lines Clean Lin has in the works is to connect the country's best sources of wind energy, concentrated in the region ranging from the Dakotas to Texas, to more populous areas of the country.
The transmission line which is proposed to run through Arkansas would pass through White, Jackson, Poinsett and Mississippi Counties before continuing to the Tennessee Valley. The line would connect to the Entergy system, allowing Entergy customers the option of accessing the energy. Hardy said the 700 mile line would deliver 3,500 megawatts of clean energy to over a one million homes.
Work began on drafts the potentional routes of the project in 2009 when five mile wide corridors were mapped out. Hardy said in 2012, the routes were narrowed down to a width of one mile. That width has been narrowed down to 1,000 feet and will be presented to the public at the end of this year so it can be narrowed based on residents' comments. The final width of the easement for the transmission would be between 150-200 feet.
Hardy said they have been contacting landowners throughout the process and surveying the land along the proposed route for such factors as endangered species, homes, hospitals, schools, water and biological resources, conservation easements, airfields, public and tribal lands, and other factors.
"We're working hard to avoid and minimize the line's impact on agriculture," Hardy said. Part of that involves the Department of Energy drafting an Environmental Impact Statement to assess potential environmental impacts the project could have. Hardy said the Environmental Impact Statement would be up for public review in 2015, and the project could begin construction in 2016 with two years estimated for completion.
Hardy also mentioned a landowner compensation package for landowners whose land the easements would need to be on. He said landowners would be compensated up to 100% of the market value of the land and would receive payments for structure on their property as well as for other impacts. The compensation program was one of the things put together based on feedback from the communities.
Clean Line also plans to pay the counties $10,000 per mile of the line as well as the taxes on the structures. "That's 280 miles in Arkansas. That money is significant, especially for rural counties," Hardy said.
In the meantime, Clean Line representatives have been meeting periodically with the residents of the counties the line would run through. "This line could last 80 to 100 years," Hardy said. "We view ourselves as long-term partners. Part of these meetings is building relationships."