This page summarizes the process that resulted in the identification of the proposed right-of-way for the Plains & Eastern Clean Line project.
Clean Line routed the transmission line using a multi-step process that attempted to minimize impacts on existing land use and natural and cultural resources. Through environmental evaluation and stakeholder participation, the Clean Line team, along with land, engineering, and environmental specialists studied and reviewed many variables to determine a suitable location for the Plains & Eastern Clean Line. This process consisted of review and evaluation of potential project impacts on existing resources, including but not limited to, homes and structures, heavily populated communities, recognized tribal lands, areas with high resource value, recreational areas, known cultural resources, water resources, and federal and state protected species.
The guidelines and criteria adopted to route the Plains & Eastern Clean Line are consistent with transmission line siting principles used by federal entities and leading utilities. The principles used for siting were intended to avoid and/or minimize impacts to existing resources, developed areas, and incompatible infrastructure; to maximize routing opportunities, such as paralleling existing compatible linear infrastructure; and to take into consideration land use and other factors affecting route development and identification.
In November 2013, Clean Line submitted to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) the Applicant Proposed Route, a Representative Right-of-Way, and Alternative Routes for the direct current transmission line. Clean Line also proposed locations for other project facilities, including converter stations. DOE then independently verified Clean Line’s data and analyzed the proposed and alternative locations for the project facilities in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
DOE released the Draft EIS on December 19, 2014. Following the release, DOE sought public comments through April 20, 2015. DOE received numerous comments on the Draft EIS, including comments that provided new information or suggestions for variations to the location of the proposed route and alternative routes for the direct current transmission line. In addition, concurrent with DOE’s work, Clean Line continued communicating with landowners and gathering new information throughout 2014 and 2015 regarding the potential location of the proposed project. In response to the comments received by DOE regarding the Draft EIS, new information collected by Clean Line and suggestions from landowners, Clean Line developed a number of adjustments to the Applicant Proposed Route that were designed to reduce further the project’s impacts. Clean Line also narrowed the siting areas for the proposed delivery converter stations in Arkansas and Tennessee for analysis in the Final EIS. In June 2015, Clean Line submitted the updated Applicant Proposed Route and refined converter station siting areas to DOE for their independent review and analysis in the Final EIS.
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 March 2016, DOE issued a Record of Decision (ROD) approving the Plains & Eastern Clean Line transmission project and implementing the preferred alternative identified in the Final EIS.
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. For more information on the location of the proposed right-of-way and other project facilities, please click here.
To learn more about the NEPA process, please click here.
Clean Line held stakeholder outreach meetings at various stages of the route identification process. Many formal and informal meetings were held to foster dialogue and gather relevant and current information about the areas where the transmission line and associated facilities could be located. The maps below outline the key points at which stakeholder input helped refine the route selection process.
Click the orange arrow beneath the maps to see the route development process.