Company finds wind energy aplenty ; Texas energy firm wants to build transmission line through several states. [Hutchinson News, The (KS)]
"Hutchinson News, The (KS)", 2014-01-29
A Texas company proposing construction of a high voltage direct- current transmission line through Kansas and three other states has found developers are working on wind farm projects in Western Kansas that would produce nearly four times what the proposed line can carry.
In November Grain Belt Express Clean Line LLC, an affiliate of Clean Line Energy Partners LLC of Houston, issued a "request for information" from developers as part of its effort to establish the line.
The response, the company stated in a news release this week, showed projects in various stages of development will be capable of generating more than 13,500 megawatts of power, according to a company news release.
The Grain Belt line is a proposed 3,500-megawatt line, delivering the power from western Kansas to Missouri, Illinois and Indiana.
"Those are megawatts that are actually under development by wind generation developers," said Diana Rivera, director of development for Clean Line Energy. "For some it means they have enough acreage leased with landowners for enough wind turbines to host that many. Some have permitting requirements fulfilled, others don't."
While unable to share specifics about the number of projects and what phases they are in, most have just leased land, Rivera said.
"In many cases these developers are waiting for a line to be built, or for other transmission to come online to move energy to market," Rivera said. "In many cases these projects are at standstill because they don't have access to customers. That's where our line comes in. We hope to provide a path to the market."
The level of projects planned indicates the transmission market will be competitive, which should help keep prices for the wind energy down, Rivera said.
While pricing details won't be made public, the release stated, "the proposed costs of energy submitted through the RFI were in line with other wind energy power purchase agreements recently signed in this region."
"It's a great sign for us and for the market," Rivera said. "It shows this project is needed and we're very likely to get it filled up if we can get it completed."
Their customers, Rivera said, will be a combination of wind generators and load-serving entities, but primarily the wind generators who will gain access to larger energy markets.
Kansas and Indiana regulators have declared Grain Belt Express a public utility, and the Kansas Corporation Commission in November 2013 also granted it a siting permit to construct the 370-mile Kansas portion of the line. In its order, the KCC stipulated the company has five years to start construction or it will have to reapply.
The company plans to file its application in Missouri in "the next few months" to be declared a public utility there, and then in Illinois in early 2015 "after an extensive outreach and routing process similar to the one we did in Kansas," Rivera said.
It continues targeting a construction start in 2016.
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