Sediver plant has international reach

New $ 15 million facility tied to massive Clean Line network


The new Sediver plant opened in West Memphis with fanfare that included international company executives and Governor Asa Hutchinson cutting the ribbon. Sediver is producing and testing toughened glass insulators for ultra-highvoltage power lines. The new $15-million-dollar high-tech facility in the Mid-America Industrial Park could grow dramatically with the launch of the long-distance transmission Plains & Eastern Clean Line.

Plans are for electricity generated on western Oklahoma wind farms to be delivered to the TVA in Memphis and a power plant along the way in Pope county where Russellville is the county seat. Plans for the new power transmission line approved by the Department of Energy under the Obama administration span the northern part of the Diamond State.

That made a big part of the Sediver decision to locate in West Memphis according Houston based Clean Line Energy Partners President Michael Skelly said in a personal interview at the inaugural event.

The business connection could not have been any more direct as Skelly chatted up Peter Baumgartner CEO of Seves Group the French parent company of Sediver USA during the meet and greet before the plant ribbon cutting.

“We said if you build a factory in Arkansas, we will buy every insulator that we need from that factory,” said Skelly. “From that conversation it brings us here today. Sediver is a global leader and this is a state of the art facility.

Their insulators sell for about $30 each and they have to be beyond perfect.

It’s a critical component because if one little insulator fails then you have an issue all across the 2.5 billion network. It makes procurement decisions easy when they can roll out of this factory to our lines just up the road.”

Baumgartner indicated the new plant will start filling orders for existing customers in European, African and Brazilian wind farm power transmission projects. “We have projects in the future very close here,” confirmed Baumgartner.

“Particularly one here run by Mr. Skelly. We supply a key component that makes transmission lines reliable and secure.”

Skelly described the scope of the new power line transmission project to deliver clean wind energy as part of a new wave of investment in America’s electrical grid. The plant in Pope county convert 500 megawatt direct current into alternating current to serve 160,000 households in northwest Arkansas.

“We are building a line from western Oklahoma to deliver energy into Pope County, Arkansas and the Entergy system and continues on to Shelby County,” said Skelly. “That’s at $2.5 billion project. We’ve been working on it for eight years now.

It’s pretty far along. Projects like this take a very long time to put together.

There are a lot of governmental regulatory permits and licensing.”

Clean Line wants to start building in 2018 with a 2020 completion date that brings transmission lines through Crittenden County to link to the TVA in Memphis. It’s been a long time since an electric infra structure project has been undertaken in the United States.

“We haven’t built big infrastructure like this in the United states in 40 years,” said Skelly. “We are out there buying right of way now and that is going well.”

The project may be going well with DOE approvals but it is not without opposition in Arkansas. Arkansas property owners are expected to reap $30 million in payments for right of way easements for the project, but a federal lawsuit representing two Arkansas landowning groups is suing the DOE for the way it approved the project. Hearings on that matter are scheduled for November.

The entire Arkansas legislative delegation has signed onto a bill authored by Senator John Boozman requiring gubernatorial approval of similar projects in the future before final DOE approval.

By John Rech