$2B energy project to add jobs in Green Country

Posted at 10:20 AM, Apr 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-15 11:23:50-04

Northeast Oklahoma is about to get an economic boost that many local leaders are calling “historic.”

A 700-mile energy transmission line is in the works across three states – and the company behind it all is calling on Oklahomans to build it.

PELCO Industrial, LLC is partnering with Houston-based Clean Line Energy to build the $2 billion line that will transport wind energy from the panhandle all the way to Memphis.

That could mean not only hundreds of permanent jobs, but money to communities that's so desperately needed it.

“The fact that we can lead the way in this kind of innovation and energy is amazing,” said Claremore Industrial & Economic Development Authority Director Jeri Koehler.

Thursday, Houston's Clean Line Energy learned more about Claremore – the community chosen to build their project from the ground up.

“One of the first places we came was Oklahoma, we knew there was great wind in the Oklahoma panhandle region, but there wasn't enough transmission to get it to market,” said Clean Line Energy Vice President Mario Hurtado.

That's about to change.

Following federal approval, Claremore-based PELCO Industrial will produce the massive transmission line to move wind energy all the way to Tennessee – powering over a million homes and bringing nearly 200 jobs to the area.

“We’re running three shifts right now, but we will double and these will be permanent jobs,” said PELCO President Phil Albert.

But the impact doesn't stop there.

Once the line is built, Clean Line says jobs and revenue will flow to the line's counties like Creek, Sequoyah and Muskogee, pumping potentially millions to first responders and even local classrooms.

“Local schools are hurting ... K12, career tech, higher education,” said Rogers State University President Dr. Larry Rice. “Anything that puts money toward public education in Oklahoma is a good thing.”

More than half of the $2 billion investment is promised to stay in the sooner state, giving hope to a struggling economy and a future for local workers.

“I think the takeaway for Oklahomans is Oklahoma is a great place to invest and out of that comes prosperity and jobs,” said Hurtado.

“It’s important that Oklahomans understand that the impact of this will be generational, for years and years to come,” Koehler said.

Clean Line Energy says they've been working to make sure they're compliant with local and regional electric regulations.

Construction is estimated to begin on the line in late 2017, with full operation beginning as early as 2020.