Clean Line Energy Project Given Green Light from DOE: Announcement Fosters Job Growth in Southeast including Tennessee

The Department of Energy’s (DOE) announcement last week issuing a Record of Decision for the Plains & Eastern Clean Line transmission project is a major step towards TAEBC member, Clean Line Energy Partners meeting its goal of delivering low-cost, clean energy from wind farms in Oklahoma to consumers in the Mid-South and Southeast United States.

This decision also has significant impact for TAEBC’s mission of fostering the state’s advanced energy technologies, companies and CleanLineLogo-400x266jobs. The $2.5 billion project is expected to support thousands of jobs in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Tennessee, creating hundreds of manufacturing jobs within these states.

DOE’s decision was issued after nearly six years of study and evaluation, designating a preferred route for the direct current transmission line. The Plains & Eastern Clean Line will enable the delivery of 4,000 megawatts (MW) of low-cost, clean power from the Oklahoma Panhandle region to customers in Arkansas, Tennessee and other states in the Mid-South and Southeast. The project will deliver the energy equivalent of four times the output from the Hoover Dam annually—enough power for more than one million American homes.

Clean Line has the potential to enable lower-carbon electricity, enhance system reliability and operate at a reasonable cost to consumers.

“We appreciate the support organizations like TAEBC have shown for the project,” said Mario Hurtado, Executive Vice President of Clean Line Energy.

With the DOE’s decision in hand, Hurtado said that Clean Line will enter the final stages of development on the Plains & Eastern Clean Line, targeting the project to begin operations in 2020.

The announcement marks the first use of Congressional authority conferred to DOE as part of Section 1222 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 with the objective of promoting transmission development. Congress passed this provision when it was becoming clear that the nation’s transmission infrastructure was beginning to show its age and needed modernization. Congress recognized the need for a modern and resilient grid that could accommodate increasing demands for power with newly available resources. Clean Line’s project was deemed by DOE to satisfy the goals for which Congress established DOE’s authority.

“Moving remote and plentiful power to areas where electricity is in high demand is essential for building the grid of the future,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz. “Building modern transmission that delivers renewable energy to more homes and businesses will create jobs, cut carbon emissions, and enhance the reliability of our grid.”

For more information about the Clean Line project, including the Summary of Findings, which explains DOE’s decision at length, the Participation Agreement, the National Environmental Policy Act Record of Decision and more, visit Energy.gov.

Charter Member ORNL Represents TAEBC at ARPA-E Summit

TAEBC member Dan Miller, Manager of Industrial Partnerships and Economic Development at ORNL, just returned from a successful visit to the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) Summit in DC early this week.

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ORNL’s Mike Paulus networks with Chris Faranetta of HyerV Technologies Corp at the TAEBC/ORNL table during the State & International Networking Event at the ARPA-E Summit.

Miller and ORNL represented TAEBC in the State & International Networking Event portion of the Summit, which provided a forum for state-based, regional and international agencies to connect and showcase progress in advancing technologies into future clean energy solutions.

Dr. Mike Paulus, ORNL Director of Technology Transfer, joined Miller at the TAEBC/ORNL table. The team reported that the reception provided an excellent opportunity to showcase TAEBC and ORNL’s joint efforts in strengthening the state’s advanced energy economy.

Other organizations at the event included: California Energy Commission (CEC); Clean Energy Trust; Energy Excelerator; KIC InnoEnergy, European Union; Massachusetts Clean Energy Center; New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization, Japan; North Carolina Board of Science, Technology and Innovation; Oregon BEST; and Rev1 Ventures for Columbus.

An annual energy innovation summit hosted by the US Department of Energy, ARPA-E offers a look at America’s future energy technologies, highlighting cutting-edge technologies across all energy sectors. ARPA-E is designed to bring expert entrepreneurs and researchers together for collaboration, sharing tangible innovations and inspiring investment opportunities.

Featured speakers during this year’s summit included:  Dr. Ernest Moniz, Secretary of Energy, US Department of Energy; Gina McCarthy, Administrator, US Environmental Protection Agency; Former Vice President Al Gore; US Senators Lisa Murkowski, Chris Coons; US Representative Bill Foster; and Dr. Sophie Vandebroek, Chief Technology Officer with Xerox.

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Knoxville’s Local Motors car on display in the Technology Showcase portion of the ARPA-E Summit.

Tennessee-based technologies on display during the conference included Knoxville’s Local Motors, with a car featured in the Technology Showcase.

For more information about ARPA-E, arpa-e.energy.gov.

DOE Grid Modernization Funding Announcement Has East Tennessee Impact

When the Department of Energy (DOE) announced on January 14th a commitment of up to $200 million for more than 80 projects to modernize America’s grid, it left little doubt that DC is serious about increasing the reliability of the nation’s electrical delivery system.

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In a release, DOE Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said, “Modernizing the U.S. electrical grid is essential to reducing carbon emissions, creating safeguards against attacks on our infrastructure, and keeping the lights on. This public-private partnership between our National Laboratories, industry, academia, and state and local government agencies will help us further strengthen our ongoing efforts to improve our electrical infrastructure so that it is prepared to respond to the nation’s energy needs for decades to come.”

Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC) Charter member Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is anticipated to play a major role in DOE’s overall plan. ORNL spokeswoman Morgan McCorkle confirmed to the News Sentinel that the lab will be involved in more than 25 of the funded projects. ORNL’s scope of work will include transformer research, analysis and testing. McCorkle also confirmed the lab will receive about $11 million in Fiscal Year 2016 and a total of $22 million over three years.

In addition, several of DOE’s grid modernization funded research projects explore the concept of microgrids, a localized group of electricity sources and loads that can disconnect and function on their own, separate from a traditional centralized grid. Microgrids are being researched and investigated here in Tennessee, both for their ability to function autonomously and for their capacity to operate as economic conditions warrant.

Last December, TAEBC members heard from fellow members who are investigating microgrid feasibility in East Tennessee. Cherokee Farm in Knoxville, working with Hitachi, continues to study the economic impact of an operational microgrid. TAEBC member Schneider Electric is also making advances toward microgrid development in Upper East Tennessee.

All of this activity is not only good for the nation but good for organizations such as TAEBC. With our Charter member ORNL playing a significant role in grid research, it’s safe to say that Tennessee overall will be a major player in advancing the resiliency, reliability, and security of the nation’s electricity delivery system.

It All Began in Chattanooga: DC Delegate Reflects on Recent Visit and Culmination of TAEBC Initiatives

by Cortney Piper, Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council

When members of the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC) visited Washington, DC in September as delegates to the American Energy and Manufacturing Competitiveness Summit, the trip marked the importance the Volunteer State plays in the nation’s advanced energy economy.

ssistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy David Danielson introduces new efforts during the American Energy and Manufacturing Competitiveness Summit in Washington, DC

Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy David Danielson introduces new efforts during the American Energy and Manufacturing Competitiveness Summit held in Washington, DC in late September. 

While the trip provided an opportunity to showcase Oak Ridge National Lab’s (ORNL) achievements in United States (US) clean energy manufacturing competitiveness, it also gave delegates a chance to reflect on TAEBC’s achievements over the past few years and how those successes helped lead to a productive DC visit, culminating in the announcement of two new efforts by Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy David Danielson.

Those efforts include a national laboratory-industry collaboration pilot and a competitive solicitation to leverage national labs’ high-performance computing capabilities—to strengthen US clean energy manufacturing competitiveness.

I remember when TAEBC first captured the attention of Assistant Secretary Danielson in Chattanooga in 2014. The Assistant Secretary visited the city to learn more about how public and private partnerships can help businesses access assets for clean energy manufacturing; he listened to what TAEBC is doing to champion advanced energy in the Southeast and heard feedback from the private sector regarding how best to access and leverage federal energy assets in the state.

Bringing big and small businesses together with our advanced energy assets and a unified mission means everything to the advanced energy economy. Assistant Secretary Danielson carried many of the ideas shared, from Chattanooga to DC, and those ideas were reflected in the announcement in September of the Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy sector’s most recent efforts as well as the Small Business Voucher Program announced in July.

Participating in the DC trip and witnessing the focus placed on Tennessee throughout the Manufacturing Competitiveness Summit clearly demonstrated that TAEBC continues to provide value to the membership by putting a national spotlight on the region. The Department of Energy (DOE) is listening and recognizing Tennessee for what we have and what we can achieve.

We began TAEBC as a business council designed to educate public officials and business leaders about Tennessee’s advanced energy assets, connecting assets with opportunities to create economic impact, and informing policy that expands and strengthens the industry.

We continue to support Tennessee in its effort to shine as a leader in this $1.3 trillion global market, helping economic development stakeholders attract businesses to the state, creating jobs for residents. Assistant Secretary Danielson’s recent announcements are examples of the growth and advancement that are central to TAEBC’s mission.

We have much to be proud of, much work to achieve and much more opportunities to discover. Let’s remember that our work matters; our goals are clear; and we have Washington‘s ear.

Thank you to all fellow delegates who helped bring home the message to DC that Tennessee holds the key to powering advanced energy throughout the nation.

Tell Secretary Moniz to support the delivery of low-cost clean energy to consumers

The U.S. Department of Energy is currently deciding whether to approve the Plains & Eastern Clean Line transmission project (developed by TAEBC member Clean Line Energy Partners), and a petition is available online now to voice your support to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. The project will deliver low-cost wind energy from the wind-rich Oklahoma Panhandle region to utilities and customers in Arkansas, Tennessee and other markets in the Mid-South and Southeast.

The Plains & Eastern Clean Line also benefits local communities by stimulating economic development and creating new jobs. It will modernize America’s grid and create a cleaner energy future.

Click here for a link to the petition and letter of support.