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OKCU Professors Assess Economic Impact of Wind Energy Project

Kyle Dean and Russell Evans
Two Oklahoma City University economics professors have completed a study investigating the Oklahoma economic impact of the Plains & Eastern Clean Line transmission project, a 720-mile, $2 billion privately-funded project that will connect wind energy produced in the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles to customers in the mid-south and southeastern United States.

Oklahoma City University’s Russell Evans, Ph.D., and Kyle Dean, Ph.D., estimate that the project’s capital expenditures would have a $1.9 billion impact on the state’s economy, and support an average of 4,961 jobs annually over the two-and-a-half year construction timeline of the project.

The study encompasses three phases of economic impacts: wind farm development, construction of a collection system and converter station, and installation of the transmission line. While all three phases will require annual operations and maintenance support, the authors were able to estimate the economic impact from operations and maintenance for the collector system, converter station and transmission line only.  These two phases of the project are estimated to exert a recurring $34 million impact annually on the state’s economy supporting an additional 108 Oklahoma jobs. While the annual operations and maintenance support for the new wind farms was not reported in this study, it is expected that this will also have significant ongoing positive employment and income benefits for Oklahoma.

The economic importance of the project is highlighted by a case study of a preferred supplier agreement with Pelco Structural, an Oklahoma manufacturer based in Claremore with expertise in the production of tapered transmission poles.  Pelco’s preferred supplier contract with Clean Line Energy will ultimately exert an $84 million impact on the state’s economy and support an average of 140 jobs annually over the life of the contract. Vicki Ayres-Portman, manager for Plains & Eastern Clean Line, said this study by Evans and Dean emphasizes the importance of the Plains & Eastern Clean Line not only to the primary contractors engaged in the project, but also to the broader community in which they operate.