Prior to making a determination about whether the Department of Energy (DOE) would participate in the Plains & Eastern Clean Line project, DOE, in consultation with Southwestern Power Administration (Southwestern), evaluated the proposed project, including reviewing the potential environmental impacts pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Southwestern is a power marketing administration under DOE with operations and transmission facilities in six states, including Arkansas and Oklahoma. Southwestern markets and delivers electricity to electric cooperatives and municipalities.
In December 2012, Clean Line presented a proposed Network of Potential Routes and other project facilities to DOE for consideration as part of its NEPA review. DOE hosted 13 public scoping meetings in January, February and March 2013 to solicit public comments regarding the project, the potential alternatives and the scope of analysis to be included in the Plains & Eastern Clean Line's Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). DOE also contacted state agencies in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas to solicit their comments. DOE received numerous comments from the public and agencies during the Public Scoping Period. A summary report of the scoping process and the main themes of comments is available here. DOE considered these comments during its preparation of the Draft EIS.
DOE released the Draft EIS on December 19, 2014. The release of the Draft EIS initiated a public comment period that concluded on April 20, 2015. During the comment period, DOE hosted 15 public meetings in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Texas to receive comments regarding the Draft EIS. DOE considered these comments during its preparation of the Final ElS.
The Final EIS was released in November 2015. The document presents a thorough analysis and comparison of the potential environmental impacts of the proposed project, responds to public comments DOE received regarding the Draft EIS, and identifies DOE’s participation in the project through Southwestern as its preferred alternative. The Final EIS “did not identify widespread significant impacts as a result of construction or operations and maintenance of the Project.” DOE also concluded that implementation of the environmental protection measures that Clean Line included as an integral part of the project would avoid or minimize the potential for significant environmental effects.
The Final EIS identified DOE’s preferred alternative, which includes: 1) the agency’s preferred route for the direct current transmission line, and 2) the preferred locations of the converter stations and other project facilities in Arkansas and Oklahoma. DOE’s participation in the project would be limited to states in which Southwestern operates. Southwestern does not operate in the state of Tennessee. Therefore, while the Final EIS analyzes the potential environmental impacts of the entire project, DOE did not indicate a preference for the location of the direct current transmission line or the converter station in Tennessee. In Tennessee, the proposed right-of-way for the direct current transmission line is consistent with the route approved by the Tennessee Regulatory Authority in its Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity issued January 2015. To see the location of the direct current transmission line and other project facilities included in DOE’s preferred alternative, please click here. In most places, the final right-of-way for the direct current transmission line will be 150 to 200 feet wide.
In March 2016, DOE issued its Record of Decision (ROD), which marks the conclusion of the over three year environmental review process for the project. The ROD selects the route for the interstate direct current transmission line, and confirms the beginning point of the project in Oklahoma and a converter station in Arkansas that will deliver 500 MW of low-cost, clean power. As part of its decision, DOE requires that Clean Line implement environmental protection measures during the development, construction and operation of the project to minimize impacts to landowners and the environment.
For more information about the NEPA review process and to view a copy of the Final EIS and ROD, please visit DOE’s Plains & Eastern EIS website at www.plainsandeasterneis.com.