Arkansas will be in the center of a new energy line, and Faulkner County may be part of its development.
Clean Line Energy Partners LLC is in the process of creating wind-powered energy streams, with one of them stretching from the Oklahoma panhandle to Memphis, Tenn. The line between those two points could cross Faulkner County.
Justice of the Peace Randy Higgins informed the Faulkner County Quorum Court of the wind-based energy power line after seeing a presentation from the company. He said it’s possible that the county could "hook up" with the energy source in the future.
"It is highly likely that this power line will come through Faulkner County," Higgins said. "There are many advantages with this, and we could be the ones taking advantage of it."
With officials in this area still exploring the benefits of natural gas exploration, another energy source could be a boon, especially with the creation of new jobs, Higgins said. According to Clean Line Energy Partners, up to 200 jobs could be created in Arkansas during the five-year project.
The project is scheduled to begin in 2014, but several hurdles remain.
The line from Oklahoma to Tennessee is part of the Plains & Eastern Clean Line, a private industry that is not depending on government subsidies to complete its goal. Plains & Eastern is one of four power lines that span the Midwest and Southwest, pushing from California to Illinois.
The Plains & Eastern Clean Line transmission project will connect thousands of megawatts of clean energy generation throughout the Mid-South and Southeast. The project will be developed in two 3,500 megawatt phases, with the first phase of the approximately 800-mile overhead high voltage direct current transmission (HVDC) transmission line currently under development.
HVDC is the most efficient and cost effective technology to move large amounts of electricity over long distances due to its lower electricity losses and smaller footprint than comparable alternating current (AC) lines, according to industry officials.
Under the proposal, wind-generated power from wind farms in western Oklahoma, the Texas panhandle and southwestern Kansas would be harnessed and sent through 800 miles of power lines through Oklahoma, Arkansas and into western Tennessee. The power would then be distributed by the Tennessee Valley Authority across the southeastern United States.
The company also has been in contact with several environmental groups to make sure the transmission lines would be placed in the best possible locations.
According to the company, commercial operation could begin in 2017 if the project begins on time. The project requires coordination with and review and approval from numerous government entities.
"Let’s be honest," Higgins said. "The price of wind does not change. It is low cost maintenance, and it could be a job creator."