Arkansas Congressional Delegation Presses DOE to Pause or Terminate Clean Line Project

Jan 23, 2018
Press

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) and U.S. Representatives Rick Crawford (AR-01), French Hill (AR-02), Steve Womack (AR-03) and Bruce Westerman (AR-04) sent a letter today to Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Rick Perry outlining Clean Line Energy Partners’ failure to comply with the agreement signed with the Department and urged Secretary Perry to pause or terminate the Plains and Eastern Clean Line Project.
 
Late last year, Clean Line Energy Partners sold its Oklahoma assets to a company not mentioned in the agreement with the DOE. It also dropped its interconnection agreement with the Tennessee Valley Authority, the most significant potential energy customer for the Project.
 
“With the Project eminently unable to reach the pre-conditions set out in the Agreement, and the uncertainty of an altered Clean Line Project which has not been properly studied, the Arkansas delegation requests that the DOE pause the Project to either study or terminate its participation before the deadline,” members wrote.
 
The Arkansas Congressional Delegation has fought against this federal overreach by introducing the Assuring Private Property Rights Over Vast Access to Lands (APPROVAL) Act, for the past two Congresses. This legislation would restore states’ rights. It would require the DOE to obtain the approval of both the governor and the state’s public service commission before exercising the federal power of eminent domain to acquire property for Section 1222 transmission projects.
 
Last year, members sent a letter to Secretary Perry urging him to review the project. In September 2017, members met with the secretary about this project.
 
The full text of the letter is below.
 
Dear Secretary Perry,
 
Following our September 25, 2017 meeting regarding the Plains and Eastern Clean Line Participation Agreement (Agreement), we write today to bring new developments to your attention concerning the Department of Energy’s (DOE) participation in the Plains and Eastern Clean Line Project (Project). We appreciate the time and diligence you’ve given to our concerns.
 
First you should be aware that in December, Clean Line Energy Partners announced it had sold the entirety of the Project’s Oklahoma assets to a company unmentioned in the Agreement. Also late last year, Clean Line Energy Partners dropped its interconnection agreement with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the Project’s most significant potential customer on the eastern end of the 700-mile transmission line. Without an interconnection agreement, it is reasonable to conclude the Project’s ultimate delivery of energy is not expected to occur for at least several more years.
 
Meanwhile in Arkansas, there are landowners who agreed to easements, who now face an uncertain future, due to the circumstances in Oklahoma and Tennessee. The essentially new Clean Line Project has put these landowners in a special predicament where they face potentially debilitating outcomes with indefinite resolution. 
 
We understand this is a problem your agency inherited from the previous Administration. Therefore, we have included suggestions to either pause the project or detach the DOE from this case of gross federal government overreach. We request that you give our suggestions your full consideration.
 
The Clean Line Energy Partners’ sale of Oklahoma assets changes the current version of the Project from the one in which DOE originally agreed to participate. It is clear this drastically changes the Project scope originally agreed to by the DOE. Therefore, we request that the DOE immediately pause the Project and conduct a new study to see if the scope of the altered Project is achievable. If you are unwilling or unable to conduct a new study, we ask that you explain the DOE’s justification of participation following this sale.
 
Additionally, Article VII of the Agreement enumerates many occurrences where the DOE may terminate its participation. We believe one option is especially pertinent as follows: “(B) the Commencement Date has not occurred by December 31, 2018.” In light of the recent events previously mentioned, it is reasonable to anticipate failure to achieve this deadline. 
 
With the Project eminently unable to reach the pre-conditions set out in the Agreement, and the uncertainty of an altered Clean Line Project which has not been properly studied, the Arkansas delegation requests that the DOE pause the Project to either study or terminate its participation before the deadline.
 
Once again, we appreciate the time and diligence you and the DOE have given to this matter. We believe that Clean Line Energy Partners will be unable to meet the pre-conditions set out in the Agreement and the DOE is justified in terminating the Agreement by the end of this year. As a champion of states’ rights throughout your career, we ask that you continue to work with us to end this lingering overreach of the previous Administration.
 
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