But after running out the clock with years of study, TVA President Bill Johnson said the utility would back out of the plan — leaving the Clean Line project twisting in the wind.
Late last month, TVA decided not to buy the wind energy it had been window shopping for nearly six years.
The much touted "Memorandum of Understanding" between Clean Line and the TVA only required the TVA to consider purchasing transmission capacity and wind from Oklahoma to serve its load. There was no obligation for TVA to purchase anything.
This article in RTO Insider gives the MOU authority it never had.
The deal was sealed after it became apparent to Clean Line that TVA had little appetite to complete a six-year-old memorandum of understanding to purchase the project’s wind power.
The MOU was never about the separate interconnection process. In order to connect a new power source (because a large transmission line is a power source) to an existing transmission system, the system operator must study how the injection of power will affect the stability of the existing system. This is a fluid process, as the electric grid is constantly changing. Any additions or upgrades necessary to keep the system stable are the financial responsibility of the entity who has requested interconnection. A transmission operator can't just up and decide a project can't connect because the operator doesn't want to buy power to serve its customers. That's a mingling of responsibilities that isn't supposed to happen. Transmission is non-discriminatory open access.
Clean Line's removal from the TVA interconnection queue was voluntarily elected by Clean Line, whether they actively withdrew or whether they simply stopped paying for the interconnection process. When the interconnection process ends, the queue position is surrendered.
What other lies has the media made up to soften Clean Line's failure?
In the meantime, Clean Line founder and president Mike Skelly told RTO Insider, the company will focus on its four other long-haul HVDC projects.
“We’re adapting to the headwinds,” Skelly said. “You have to adapt.”
What is Skelly focusing on? The Rock Island Clean Line is dead. Plain & Eastern is dead. The Grain Belt Express has been denied and is facing years of appeals in a legal quagmire from which it cannot escape. I have no idea what's going on with the two western projects, but its probably more of the same. There's nothing to focus on here. Michael Skelly's transmission projects are not viable.
But RTO Insider isn't the only one being strung along by Clean Line.
In response to several queries from Talk Business & Politics, Clean Line on Wednesday (Jan. 3) issued a statement saying a recent decision by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to drop its six-year-old interconnection agreement with the Texas partnership has put the project on hiatus.
“The need for low-cost renewable energy in Arkansas remains and the benefits the Plains & Eastern Clean Line will deliver to the state have not changed. Clean Line Energy is retaining all permits and acquired rights-of-way in Arkansas while we continue to evaluate energy markets and will respond accordingly,” said Clean Line Founder & President Michael Skelly. “Unfortunately, TVA’s reluctance to enter into an agreement with Clean Line … at this time has delayed our ability to deliver low-cost, renewable energy to the Southeast U.S. and jobs and investment to Arkansas.”
This "bridge to nowhere" is not the same project Clean Line got approved by the Tennessee Regulatory Authority (TRA), or the U.S. DOE. It's no longer approved. And I doubt Skelly has the financial means to continue to make scheduled payments to landowners for optioned rights of way. Option? Yes. Landowners have reported that Clean Line's "purchase" of right of way in Arkansas is technically only an option to purchase because Clean Line only made down payments, with additional payments to continue the option to purchase due at a later date. Skelly doesn't own anything yet, he hasn't completed paying for it.
No terms of the deal were disclosed, but regulatory and court filings show that Clean Line appraised the value of its Oklahoma assets north of $1 billion.
But it was exactly two years ago Clean Line cleared its biggest regulatory hurdle in Tennessee when the TVA board unanimously voted to approve the Texas partnerships’ application for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity to operate as a wholesale transmission-only public utility in Tennessee. At the time, TVA said there was a need to connect the supply of thousands of megawatts of new wind energy in the Oklahoma Panhandle with the increasing demand of utilities in the Mid-South and Southeast.
Clean Line has often touted TVA’s “letter of interest” stating that the project presented a valuable option for affordable energy for the Tennessee utility conglomerate, whose largest customer is the city of Memphis.
So, let's review:
- Clean Line may no longer connect with the TVA transmission system.
- Clean Line no longer connects with any known generation source or resource area.
- Clean Line has no customers.
- Because of these factors, Clean Line's project no longer resembles the one reviewed by regulatory and "participatory" agencies.
Michael Skelly needs to give his ego a rest and just admit he's done with transmission. Continuing to pretend Clean Line's transmission idea is viable doesn't even make sense.