LITTLE ROCK — Members of the Arkansas congressional delegation have asked U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry to block plans for a power line across the state, arguing that recent setbacks make it unlikely for the project to continue.
Delegation members sent a letter to Perry on Tuesday urging the Energy Department to either “pause or terminate” the $2.5 billion Plains & Eastern Clean Line Energy project. The project is expected to bring several hundred miles of wind power lines from Oklahoma to Tennessee, cutting through Arkansas.
Supporters said the route would carry 4,000 megawatts, enough power to supply 1 million homes. The project would create jobs, reduce carbon emissions and diversify the country’s energy supply, according to supporters.
The Energy Department agreed during the Obama administration to partner with Clean Line on the project. The department moved the project forward despite objections from Arkansas leaders, citing the 2005 Energy Policy Act.
Arkansas government officials and landowners along the proposed route have opposed the project, saying it would be an eyesore, lower property values, endanger migratory waterfowl and force landowners to sell property against their will.
Recent business developments have fundamentally changed the project, the delegation’s letter stated. The project is currently stalled because a key public utility, Tennessee Valley Authority, declined to purchase the wind-generated power.
“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,” the letter stated. “Meanwhile in Arkansas, there are landowners who agreed to easements, who now face an uncertain future, due to the circumstances in Oklahoma and Tennessee.”
A spokeswoman for Clean Line said Tuesday the project is delayed but not abandoned. The company declined to comment on the letter.
“Clean Line is committed to the Plains & Eastern Clean Line and maintains ownership of the project assets in Arkansas in Tennessee,” said spokeswoman Sarah Bray in an email. “Before moving forward, we need market conditions in the Southeast to improve, as well as more commercial interest in the project.”