Preparation is underway for the construction of an energy transmission line between Guymon and Memphis, Tenn.

Generally, there are lots of different people getting ready for construction on the project, said Mario Hurtado, Clean Line Energy executive vice president and the man charged with Plains & Eastern Clean Line Project.

“It’s a big project with lots of different moving pieces, and different people that are collaborating,” he said.

 Foundations for generators are being dug and poured in the Oklahoma panhandle right now, Hurtado said. General Electric — which will build converter stations located near Guymon, in Arkansas and near Memphis, Tenn. — has done a lot of engineering work ahead of building the stations, he said.

Quanta Services — the largest transmission constructor in the country — is working with Clean Line Energy to prepare for building the transmission line, Hurtado said.

“They’ve been out there and doing a lot of prep work, talking to local contractors actually, and looking at how they’re going to work with contractors,” he said. “They’ve also been doing a lot of engineering work on our transmission structures and geometry of the line.”

Clean Line Energy has been working with landowners on easements and has acquired well over half the easements necessary for the project. Oklahoma-based companies are assisting in that effort, Hurtado said.

In addition, there has been a lot of field survey work, including gathering data on habitat and endangered and threatened species and cultural surveys, he said.

Clean Line Energy is working with manufacturers that will help build a lot of components for the project.

A Claremore company will build steel monopole structures, Hurtado said. Sediver, a company based in France, will inaugurate a new factory in Arkansas next month to build glass insulators for the project.

“The reason they’re building their facility in Arkansas is because we asked them to be there in order to be our exclusive supplier,” he said. “They’ve been testing the insulators they’ll use on our project and making sure that everything is there. We’re really excited because this is the first manufacturing facility that this company has in North America in about 30 years.”

Hurtado said Clean Line Energy is working hard to get construction started before the end of this year.

“With a big, complicated project like this, with so many moving parts, there’s always a risk of a little bit of schedule creep. If we’re not able to make the end of this year, we’ll be underway early next year,” he said. “We are shooting to be done, and in operation for the project, before the end of 2020.”

Working to connect with the landowners

The construction period will involve thousands of construction jobs in Oklahoma, Hurtado said, building the transmission line, converter station and wind farms.

“There’s logistics, there’s lots of planning, there’s all kinds of extra services that go into that. I know that, for example, in Enid, you all have been really active in the wind,” he said. “You’ve got facilities nearby. Now you’ve got people that have set up logistics centers in Enid because of your good rail and highway connections. Some of those folks are working on things for some of the wind projects that are going to connect to us, for Plains & Eastern. We’re excited about that, and happy to see how — as the project comes together … — you get to see kind of all these different components start to work together to bring it forward.”

The line will go through southern Garfield County, bringing about $800,000 in ad valorem property tax payments to the county annually, Hurtado said.

“We’re working with landowners in Garfield County and all across Oklahoma in the project to make sure where we can make … small adjustments to decrease any impact on landowners, or simply how to work better for them, we are doing that,” he said. “We’ve had hundreds and hundreds of conversations with landowners.”

Landowners are paid for use of the easement — for the square footage the line goes on, plus any transmission structures on the land — and they can choose to have it as an annual payment for as long as the project lasts. Hurtado said the payment will go up over time. If construction prevents the landowner from doing a harvest for a season or two, the landowner will be compensated for that as well.

In Oklahoma, well more than $35 million in payments will be made to landowners for the granted easements and for the structures on properties, he said.

“We’ve been really happy to work with the community in Garfield County and in Enid. We’ve had a number of public meetings and community meetings in Enid and have been happy to work with local folks there,” Hurtado said. “We’re really happy to work with a community like Enid that has really strong economic development leadership. That’s been really helpful, and we look forward to continuing that partnership with Garfield County and Enid.”

Story provided by:  Enid News & Eagle

Written by:  Jessica Miller