National Grid will make a $40 million equity investment in Clean Line, a developer of long distance, high-voltage direct current transmission projects to move renewable energy to market. National Grid is one of the largest investor-owned energy companies in the world, with experience building, owning and operating large HVDC electricity transmission interconnectors and transmission networks in the United States and the United Kingdom. National Grid shares Clean Line's vision to help create the nation's clean energy future by investing in transmission projects that facilitate the development of renewable energy resources.
Clean Line will use the proceeds from National Grid to advance the development of its four HVDC transmission projects that will connect onshore wind energy resources in the United States to communities and cities with demand for low-cost, clean power.
The investment in Clean Line is consistent with National Grid's long-term strategy of developing and operating energy infrastructure. Around 10% of National Grid's investments over the next eight years are expected to be outside its existing regulated activities in the UK and northeastern USA.
Lazard acted as financial advisor for this transaction. A subsidiary of National Grid USA will make the investment in Clean Line with corporate funds; the transaction is separate from National Grid's existing regulated businesses in the US and the UK. Under the terms of the transaction, National Grid will have the ability to acquire a significant ownership stake in Clean Line's HVDC projects. The funds associated with ZBI Ventures and the Houston-based Zilkha family will maintain their existing equity stakes in the company. The closing of the transaction is subject to regulatory approvals.
Clean Line's portfolio of HVDC transmission projects currently under development includes the following:
- The Plains & Eastern Clean Line will move 3,500 megawatts (MW) of power from clean energy projects in western Oklahoma, southwestern Kansas, and the Texas Panhandle to consumers in the Southeastern United States. In October 2011, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission approved Plains and Eastern Clean Line Oklahoma LLC's request to conduct business as a public utility in Oklahoma. In addition, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted Plains and Eastern Clean Line approval to begin negotiating transmission service agreements with potential customers. In September 2012, Plains and Eastern Clean Line LLC signed an Advanced Funding and Development Agreement with the US Department of Energy and Southwestern Power Administration. This agreement provides for DOE's environmental review of the Plains & Eastern Clean Line under the National Environmental Policy Act.
- The Grain Belt Express Clean Line will deliver 3,500 MW of low-cost renewable power from Kansas to Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and points farther east. In December 2011, Grain Belt Express Clean Line LLC received unanimous approval from the Kansas Corporation Commission to conduct business as a public utility in Kansas.
- The Rock Island Clean Line will connect 3,500 MW of renewable power from northwest Iowa to communities in Illinois and other states to the east. In May 2012, Rock Island Clean Line LLC obtained a key regulatory approval from the FERC to begin negotiating transmission service agreements with potential customers. Rock Island Clean Line LLC recently filed its proposed route in Illinois with an updated public utility application to the Illinois Commerce Commission.
- The Centennial West Clean Line will deliver 3,500 MW of renewable power from northeastern New Mexico to communities in California. In June 2012, Centennial West Clean Line LLC and Western Area Power Administration entered into an agreement that outlines a working relationship to advance the development of the Centennial West Clean Line transmission project.
- National Grid has a strong record of leadership in HVDC transmission in the United States and in the United Kingdom:
- National Grid built, operates, and owns a majority share of the US portion of a 2,000 MW HVDC interconnector that operates at 450kV between New England and Canada, which is jointly owned by some 40 energy companies.
- National Grid also is working with Emera Corporation on a proposal to develop the Northeast Energy Link, a proposed 230-mile 1,100 MW direct current (DC) transmission line delivering renewable energy from northern and eastern Maine and eastern Canada into southern New England.
- National Grid owns half of BritNed, a 156-mile, bi-pole HVDC electricity interconnector with 1,000 MW capacity each way that connects the Isle of Grain, UK, to Maasvlakte, Netherlands. National Grid invested £250m to develop BritNed, which is a 50/50 joint venture with TenneT, the Dutch electricity transmission system operator.
- Interconnexion France-Angleterre is a 2,000 MW, 42-mile HVDC electricity interconnector between England and France that includes 27 miles of undersea cable. Commissioned in 1986, IFA is part of a joint agreement between National Grid and France's Transmission Service Operator, RTE.
- The Western HVDC Link is a proposed subsea HVDC cable on the western side of the UK that will connect Scotland with England and Wales. It will be jointly developed by National Grid and Scottish Power Transmission to provide much needed additional capacity on Great Britain's transmission system and support the continued growth and expansion of renewable energy in the UK.
- National Grid currently is working with the transmission service operators in Belgium and Norway to explore opportunities to develop HVDC electricity interconnectors between those countries and Great Britain.