The construction and operation of the Plains & Eastern Clean Line project transmission line will add more than $660 million to the Arkansas economy, researchers at the Center for Business & Economic Research at the University of Arkansas Sam. M. Walton College of Business found.
The study, commissioned by Clean Line Energy Partners, was led by Kathy Deck, director of the UA center.
“Energy infrastructure projects like the Plains & Eastern Clean Line support the competitiveness of Arkansas manufacturers and generate jobs for new and established businesses in a wide variety of sectors,” Deck said.
According to the study, the $2.5 billion project will generate more than $180 million in total labor income and $660 million in total economic output in Arkansas, as well as create 855 jobs during the construction period and 693 indirect and induced jobs.
Other findings include:
- The estimated portion of the project cost in Arkansas is $657 million, of which $441 million will likely be spent within the state on the manufacturing and construction of the line and converter station.
- Clean Line has signed preferred supplier agreements with two Arkansas manufacturers: General Cable in Malvern in Hot Spring County and Sediver, which will establish a new facility in West Memphis in Crittenden County.
- The economic impact on Hot Spring County includes 205 jobs, $27.5 million in labor income and $157 million in economic output. For Crittenden County, total jobs will be 99, $12 million in labor income and $81 million in economic output.
- Once construction is complete, annual economic output in Arkansas is estimated at nearly $10 million, with 69 direct and indirect operational and maintenance jobs and $3.1 million in labor income.
The full report is available here.
Results of the study showed an economic impact higher than expected, said Clean Line President Michael Skelly.
“The project benefits Arkansas,” he said. “We wanted to focus on economic impact and employment opportunities. That’s a big deal.”
A similar study has been conducted in Oklahoma, but not Tennessee, Skelly said.
The 700-mile high-voltage direct current transmission line will pass through Oklahoma, Arkansas and Tennessee. The line will power 160,000 homes in Arkansas each year.
Houston-based Quanta Services will be the general contractor overseeing the project, Skelly said. The engineering phase of construction will begin in 2016, with full construction starting in 2017. Expected completion is 2020.
In Arkansas, the line passes through 12 counties in the northern part of the state. The counties will receive a total $123 million in payments from Clean Line over 40 years, including during the construction and operation of the project.
While the UA study touts Clean Line’s economic impact on the state, the project has had some controversy.
On Nov. 5, members of Arkansas’ congressional delegation questioned the timing of the U.S. Department of Energy’s release of its Final Environmental Impact Statement for the project.
U.S. Sen. John Boozman and Sen. Tom Cotton, along with Reps. Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, expressing concern because they had not received answers to questions, outlined in a Sept. 14, 2015 letter, about the department’s potential partnership with the Clean Line project.
Read the letters here.
The members also requested a meeting with Moniz and urged that DOE not issue a final decision on the project until the secretary completely and thoroughly responds to the initial letter.