I smell a big, fat, political glad-handing rat.
In July, the TVA sent a letter responding to Tennessee congressmen Alexander and Fincher that panned Clean Line. In a nutshell, the letter said that Clean Line presents economic and reliability issues for the TVA.
Now, just 4 months later, TVA "encourages" the TRA to:
...provide the regulatory and other government review needed to move the project forward.
The TVA says that Clean Line may provide a "potential option for the future needs of the region," but stays far, far away from actually committing to it. TVA says that it is still working on its integrated resource plan, and Clean Line's interconnection study, and that only the TVA Board can decide whether to purchase capacity on Clean Line. But yet TVA President William Johnson thinks Clean Line should be built just so he has some "options" to choose from.
Don't we build only the transmission that's actually needed? Don't transmission planners base new lines on actual need? I've never heard of a transmission line approved by an RTO just to provide "options."
If TVA decides that wind is the most economic and reliable option for a portion of its resource plan, then it will have plenty of wind "options" to choose from, whether Clean Line is built or not.
So, let me get this straight... TVA wants to clear cut a new 700 mile right of way through three states, take land from thousands of citizens through condemnation, depress the economy of "pass through" states, raise electric rates in generating states through increased competition, and encourage Clean Line to borrow billions of dollars to construct this project, just so the TVA can consider it as an "option?"
Fortunately, it's a financial impossibility to build Clean Line without firm contracts with shippers and utilities that will provide a collateral income stream. So, guess what? If Clean Line gets built, it will already be fully subscribed, which means that there will be no "option" for TVA's "interest." See paragraph above about other "options."
The TVA finishes off its split-personality missive with a disclaimer that negates all the rest of the blather.
I note that, while Clean Line might represent an option for TVA and its stakeholders' future, only the TVA Board has the authority to approve exercise of such an option. That Board to-date has not undertaken such an approval. That consideration process will focus on the statutory requirements of least cost, need for the resource, and other matters within the purview of the TVA Board.