The elected representatives are taking their responsibilities to provide oversight of federal action seriously. The congressmen believe they should have a say in the matter because Clean Line's preferred customer for its Plains & Eastern line is federal power marketer Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).
Senator Alexander said, “It’s up to the TVA board to decide what kinds of electricity to generate and purchase. But it is the responsibility of members of Congress to provide oversight to TVA policies, and these questions are part of that oversight.”
It appears that no one has bothered to inform the representatives that Clean Line is also attempting to utilize Sec. 1222 of the federal 2005 Energy Policy Act to grant the company federal eminent domain power to condemn land for its 750-mile transmission line through Oklahoma, Arkansas and Tennessee. I think the representatives could be even more effective asking the U.S. Department of Energy questions about this federal process. This is certainly within their jurisdiction.
But, for now, the reps have set their sights on asking the TVA the hard questions, such as:
1) Does purchasing electricity from this distance increase security threats to the TVA’s power supply? Former U.S. Secretary of State George Schultz has said we should pay attention to generating more energy where we use it because of national security risks.
2) What is the cost of purchasing wind electricity compared to TVA generating or purchasing other types of electricity generation?
3) There is substantial opposition in Congress to the wind production tax credit. Will TVA ratepayers be at risk of increased rates if the wind production tax credit is not renewed?
4) What is the reliability of purchasing wind power as compared to other types of electricity generated by natural gas, nuclear, coal, or hydropower?
5) TVA’s peak power demands tend to be between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. and wind tends to mostly blow at night. How does wind power fit into TVA’s overall demand structure if the electricity isn’t being produced when TVA needs it the most?
6) At a roundtable in September 2013, hosted by Senators Corker and Alexander, you said that TVA didn’t need additional electricity generation capacity as the result of reduced electricity demand. Has this projection changed?
7) If the projection for TVA’s electricity demand has changed since September 2013, does it make more sense to purchase this wind power from Clean Line Energy Partners, to build additional nuclear capacity, or to build additional natural gas or coal capacity?
8) Does Clean Line Energy Partners’ proposal require the use of eminent domain in order to acquire any right-of-way for this project? How many land owners or homeowners will be impacted by the use of eminent domain, what specific lands will be acquired and where are they located?
9) Can you explain how Clean Line Energy Partners plans to compensate any landowners or homeowners who are affected by eminent domain?
10) How will the price of compensation be determined? Does Clean Line Energy Partners have a specific formula when compensating for land purchased under the use of eminent domain?
11) What funding stream will Clean Line Energy Partners use to compensate landowners and homeowners for the land purchased under eminent domain?
"TVA should and will make a decision that is in its best interests, but we believe this would provide a clean, reliable and cost-competitive source of power that would not increase in price over the next 25 to 30 years," said Mike Skelly, founder and president of Clean Line Energy.
Clean Line estimates the wind power could be delivered to TVA for 4 cents to 6 cents per kilowatthour, which would make it generally competitive to other new sources of energy for TVA.
But Alexander questioned whether TVA needs more power with the slowdown in the growth of electricity demand. He also questioned whether wind would become more expensive if federal production credits given for new windmills are not extended.
And be sure to connect with the grassroots group organizing against Clean Line in Arkansas -- Arkansas Citizens Against Clean Line Energy.