Mr. Chidester believes PJ+M is in bed with FirstEnergy. If they breed, the child would probably behave a lot like this one:
He's exactly right!
They're not fooling Len Chidester of Montrose, West Virginia. He's heard some nasty rumors about the shoddy way FirstEnergy treats its linemen, neglects maintenance of equipment, and fails to read electric meters. Apparently this is all being done under the mandate of some company named PJ+M.
Mr. Chidester believes PJ+M is in bed with FirstEnergy. If they breed, the child would probably behave a lot like this one:
Mr. Chidester concludes that FirstEnergy bought Mon Power and Potomac Edison. FirstEnergy is bleeding these companies for every nickel they can squeeze by their phoney meter reading process, doing minimal repairs, and who knows what other practices. And he advises that a very major investigation be launched into exactly what the power companies, FirstEnergy, Mon Power, Potomac Edison and the company PJ+M have been and are continuing to do.
He's exactly right!
A good friend of mine came up with an apt acronym for the few diehard fans of the Clean Line Energy projects.
MIMPSY: Money In My Pocket, Screw You!
The MIMPSYs are in high gear in South Dakota, eagerly salivating at all the money they will rake in if the states of Iowa and Illinois allow their people and their land to be used to build Clean Line's money-making "road to market."
For years, Clean Line has been telling Iowa's economic development types how much money will flow into Iowa if it only forces approval of its Rock Island Clean Line project.
But, it now appears that at least a third of the riches promised to Iowa in exchange for its sacrifice will flow to South Dakota instead.
Dakota Power Community Wind has been pumping itself up in the media lately, trying to raise enough capital to build a wind farm of up to 1,000MW in eastern South Dakota. This is nearly one-third of RICL's proposed 3,500MW capacity.
A recent article claims the benefits South Dakota will reap from the building of RICL:
"The economic potential for our area is tremendous and uses South Dakota's renewable resources to help solve our country's energy needs," said Beresford Mayor Jim Fedderson.
But, wait, all that money is flowing directly out of the money RICL has promised to Iowa in exchange for allowing RICL to be built as a closed highway through the state. South Dakota's windfall is coming directly from the pot of money RICL promised to Iowa! How much more of RICL's economic promise to Iowa is going to evaporate if RICL is permitted?
Pure and simple greed can turn even the finest men and women into blinded fools.
Or MIMPSYs. A handful of South Dakota landowners hosting turbines are expected to rake in $6 to $7 MILLION dollars per year if RICL is built. What are the thousands of landowners hosting the line in Iowa and Illinois expected to be paid for their contribution to the effort by hosting the line? I think I heard something like $500 annually for each tower, if the landowners accepts less than fair market value for the easement and opts for the annual payment scheme.
Why the disparity? Why are just a few landowners in South Dakota going to rake in $6-7 million annually, while the rest of the host "team" must settle for $500?
Stop. Think. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don't let greed blind you.
Mountain Party candidate for the 66th District seat in the WV House of Delegates, Danny Lutz, had great success with a petition against Potomac Edison's recent request for a 17.2% rate increase when he circulated it at the Jefferson County Fair a couple weeks ago.
Danny presented a sweet 500 signatures of protest to the PSC last week!
Miss your chance to sign the petition at the fair? Danny's got you covered! He's made copies of the petition available for you to sign at several supportive local businesses.
Visit these establishments and ask to sign the Potomac Edison rate increase petition:
Roger's Tire and Auto Martinsburg
Orr's Farm Market Martinsburg
D&D Meats Inwood
Mountain View Diner Charles Town
Hampshire's Body Shop Kearneysville
Cantuta Cafe Charles Town
Needful Things Charles Town
Weber's Store Shannondale
And be sure to attend the Public Service Commission hearings on the rate increase in Shepherdstown on October 6 to watch Danny present his handiwork to the Commissioners.
If you'd like a blank copy of the petition to circulate at your business, with your friends, neighbors, or family, just ask. Unless you're that other guy who works for the utility... he can't have my petition... or my vote.
The WV Public Service Commission issued an Order today scheduling public comment hearings on Potomac Edison's proposed 17.2% rate increase.
Two local hearings will be held in Shepherdstown at the Shepherd University Frank Center on October 6, 2014. The first hearing begins at 1:00 p.m. and will be followed by a second hearing beginning at 6:00 p.m.
Customers are strongly encouraged to attend and sign up to speak briefly about how the proposed rate increase will affect you. If you can't make the start time, that's okay, late arrivals will still be permitted to speak as long as they arrive before the hearing concludes.
This hearing is also the place to tell the Commission how you feel about its decision to make you pay the $7.5M cost of Potomac Edison's monthly meter reading ordered as a result the General Investigation into the company's meter reading and billing practices.
See you there!
...and they can start by overcoming their presumption that massive amounts of new overhead transmission is necessary to move to a clean energy future. It's not.
But, CFRA is funded by ReAMP, whose "clean energy" money comes from deep pocketed and mysterious foundations and "Energy Funds". Environmental groups are just as shady, and just as well-funded, as the fossil fuel energy interests at which they point the finger. And the people have had enough of that nonsense!
Transmission advocacy toadie CFRA has taken the funding offered by these big green groups to act as a voice for rural landowners, and to somehow convince these landowners to accept gigantic new transmission lines across their land. It's not working. CFRA has done nothing but anger rural landowners, who feel that CFRA has strayed far from its mission to represent rural interests.
CFRA begins with the incorrect presumption that we MUST build massive amounts of new transmission across the midwest in order to have clean energy.
CFRA has been rejected time and time again by the very rural landowners it pretends to represent. But, now they're back, telling rural landowners that they can "change transmission for the better" if they simply accept it.
NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN.
Earlier this month, several hearings were held across Missouri concerning a proposed transmission line that has the potential to carry Midwest wind energy to eastern markets. The Missouri Public Service Commission heard testimony from Missouri residents concerning the Grain Belt Express project, one of several new transmission projects in the region that could help boost new renewable energy projects.
The only thing that needs changing here is the way we go about transitioning to a clean energy future. It's not going to happen overnight. And it's not going to happen on a grandiose scale. It's going to happen gradually, in the local communities, where energy can be produced at point of use.
CFRA has failed to actually LISTEN to what rural Americans are saying about energy. They want local solutions, sustainable solutions, that don't require rural America to make a sacrifice for the needs of far-flung urban areas. Urban areas are just as capable of developing their own local renewable energy sources and should be permitted to do so. Instead of wasting billions on new long-distance overhead transmission, couldn't that money be better spent on sustainable solutions, such as on-site solar or offshore wind conveniently located near the big demand centers?
CFRA has failed to learn the first lesson about the people it supposedly represents -- it's not about the money, it's about a way of life.
Yesterday, Sierra Club announced that it opposes PPL's "Project Compass," at least the parts that it thinks will carry "dirty" energy.
Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club, said his group "will definitely oppose" the section in that state.
But what about the sections that environmental NGOs think will carry "clean" wind energy from the Midwest? How is Sierra Club going to support the western parts of this project without connecting them to the eastern parts that deliver the load?
Tom Schuster, a regional Sierra Club representative, said the group hasn't taken a position on the entire project because there are still too many unknowns.
Meanwhile in Midwest states, Sierra Club is supporting new transmission lines intended to move electricity hundreds of miles across multiple states. Aren't those also transmission lines that rely on far-off plants to send power into populated areas? Yes, they are.
Environmentalists who testified said they support the [Grain Belt Express] plan. James Harmon of Kirksville, a member of the executive committee of the Sierra Club’s Missouri Chapter, said it would help Missouri and other states meet the new federal goals for reducing carbon emissions.
This is what happens when your policies are hypocritical. Either you like big new transmission "for wind" (and everything else they carry), or you don't. There are no "electron police" standing by to keep dirty electrons off new transmission lines.
Hello, left hand... let me introduce you to right hand. May you two have a long and hypocritical life together!
So, how does Sierra Club want to plan our electric grid? This is what happens when you let a bunch of "public policy" wonks have a seat at the table. It doesn't sound like there's any real plan at work here.
Meanwhile, equally silly arguments about "mine mouth" gas plants hijack the reporter's attention:
Jay Apt, director of the Carnegie Mellon University Electricity Industry Center, said that enormous natural gas production from the Marcellus Shale has led to significantly cheaper wholesale prices in areas of drilling. In other words, a power plant could produce electricity cheaply in Pennsylvania and a utility could transmit it to places with higher electric prices, such as Maryland, New York, and New Jersey.
Ever heard of a gas pipeline, Jay? Gas can be transported to plants that burn it in places with higher electric prices. You're going to have to transport something somewhere, and what's easier to get permitted? A FERC-jurisdictional gas pipeline, or a state-jurisdictional 725-mile high voltage transmission line that meanders through four very urban states? We all know that FERC has never met a gas pipeline it didn't like.
PJM says what it always says -- because when the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. PJM never changes, no matter how many new rules get made. PJM simply finds a way to bend the new rules to continue to support its generation and transmission incumbents.
PJM Interconnection of Audubon, Pennsylvania, which oversees wholesale electric demand for 61 million customers in a 13-state mid-Atlantic region, has said that the electric grid is "undergoing an extraordinary transformation" as coal-fired plants retire.
Dotter goes... doddering... on making silly analogies:
PJM spokesman Ray Dotter said it's like a huge version of the dilemma many individuals face: Is the most effective thing to buy a new car, or fix the old one you have?
So, if PJM decides to buy PPL a new car, are they planning to trade in the old car? Or do PJM and PPL intend to continue driving that old, inefficient car AND the brand new one? New transmission that ignores current inefficiencies and outdated equipment simply adds to the problem, it does not solve it.
Then Tittel says something sensible:
"We have better places to invest our energy money" in or near in New Jersey, Tittel said, such as offshore wind, solar, and energy efficiency projects. He added that if money was spent in those ways "you wouldn't need the power line."
I hope this means that Tittel will now be supporting smart, new local transmission projects in New Jersey!
But, just in case the Sierra Club simply continues to flap its arms ineffectually and contradict itself, the citizens of the affected states will most likely be the REAL opposition that kills PPL's transmission project.
The citizens have each other's back, because they can't count on organizations like the Sierra Club to deliver a coherent message about new electric transmission.
We always show up to get the job done!
So, with that in mind, PJM wants to hear your comments about "Project Compass." Tell them what you think.
Bees pollinate. Bees make honey. Bees can sting, too. That hurts.
Spiders are scary. But they also eat harmful insects. Sometimes they bite, and some of the bites are painful, and poisonous.
Vultures are gross. They eat dead things. Nature's cleaning crew.
Sharks eat things. Mostly other sea creatures, but sometimes they eat people who venture into the shark's dinner buffet line.
Traders trade. They're supposed to make money doing it, but sometimes they lose money making risky investments.
Do we blame bees for being bees? Do we blame spiders for being spiders? Do we even want to think about vultures eating carrion, much less damn them for doing it? Do we blame sharks for eating the occasional person? (Well, unless you're Captain Quint and are convinced sharks eat people with menace and forethought, but that was Hollywood fiction.)
Then why do we want to villainize traders for trading? The object of trading is to make money. Traders don't go to work every day hoping just to break even, or take a loss that produces money for some other entity.
A recent article in the New York Times scandalizes profitable electric market trading and blames traders for "making consumers pay more."
When the regulators and legislators decided to create a competitive electricity market, they spread a bunch of financial chum in the water to attract investors to come buy the products the market created and shoulder some of the risk of wild price swings in order to shield utilities and consumers. The NYT article puts it this way:
The contracts were intended to protect the electricity producers, utilities and industries that need to buy power. The thinking was that the contracts would help them hedge against sharp price swings caused by competition as well as the weather, plant failures or equipment problems. Those lower costs could reduce consumers’ bills.
So, the traders came. They ate the carrion. But, the nature of risk means there's a balance between reward and loss. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. The NYT article concentrated on a winner, without mentioning any losses. The NYT article lambastes DC Energy for being successful. What do the NYT reporters think would happen if DC Energy, and all other traders, stopped buying these electric market products? Could we do away with competitive markets? Would consumers pay more or less if we did?
When a trader buys one of these products they are assuming risk that they may lose their investment. If they lose, should consumers make them whole? Of course not, the trader assumed the risk when he bought the product. But, when they win, people like Mayor Margot Garant think the trader should give the money they made back to the consumers.
“Why aren’t we getting that money?” said Margot Garant, mayor of Port Jefferson.
Because you didn't take the risk, Margot!
Traders serve a purpose to keep competitive electricity markets functioning.
Trading firms like DC Energy say they ultimately benefit consumers by bearing financial risks and fostering competition. They argue that power companies can hedge only if someone else is willing to speculate. Market forces, they say, can also help power companies determine where to invest in the grid.
A trader made this very apt analogy to me:
"Traders should perform a valuable role -- they absorb risk that other market participants don't want to take. Kind of like insurance companies, which can be wildly profitable too. It's like asking: what would happen to home prices if we disallowed insurance companies from selling homeowner's insurance? If people couldn't insure their home and had to assume the risk and liability of it burning down, people would be less likely to buy homes, would be more worried when living in their homes, etc. In general, insurance companies provide a stabilizing effect on the housing market. As a society, we accept this even though we know that insurance companies generally collect more in premiums than they pay out in claims. In other words, they are profitable, yet that doesn't seem to irritate people so much because we like going to bed at night knowing that our homes are insured."
So, why do we revile all traders, even ones making money legally? Is it because taking down successful traders makes big headlines for regulators swaggering through the OK Corral with their market manipulation magnum drawn? It's nice to think that some really smart guys are keeping us safe from bad traders doing things that are illegal, right?
But, the regulators aren't that smart. If they were, we wouldn't have electricity markets with money-making loopholes big enough to drive a truck through. When a trader makes a bunch of money making legal trades, we ought to punish the regulators, or the market monitors, or the RTO personnel who created these badly designed market products. Why do we want to punish the trader for doing what traders do?
Maybe it's because those not-so-smart regulators want to drive all the traders who are smarter than they are from the market. That may be the only way to stop traders from making money in our competitive electricity market. Only then will the regulators be the smartest guys in the room, but our competitive electricity market won't survive it.
WANTED: Really stupid traders to assume electric market risk and take losses. Must be dumber than regulators and market monitors/designers and have an endless supply of cash to give away to consumers. Apply at FERC or your regional transmission organization.
Silly schemes and misleading names were in high gear during yesterday's FirstEnergy Q2 2014 Earnings Call. You know you're in for a treat when Tony the Trickster opens the festivities with another one of his *heavy sighs*.
FirstEnergy announced its new plan to make Ohio consumers assume all the risk of its unregulated, competitive generation fleet and called it, "Powering Ohio's Progress." But, let's get real here, FirstEnergy should really call it "Powering Our Profits," because that's its purpose.
And I blame the birth of this ridiculous scheme on the West Virginia Public Service Commission, who set up West Virginia's consumers to absorb the company's risk on its Harrison power station last year. In that scheme, West Virginia customers took on the burden of paying the operating costs of the Harrison power station by purchasing all its generation. In turn, FirstEnergy would sell any excess power into regional markets and return the profit it earned doing so to the consumers. Sounds great, right? However, the cost of owning and operating Harrison is greater than any profits that may be derived from selling excess power into the market, therefore, consumers would end up paying more. But, the WV PSC added one important term to its crazy plan that required the company to use the profits from market sales of power to pay down the "acquisition adjustment" fee of acquiring Harrison that was added to rates.
It is because the WVPSC allowed FirstEnergy to foist the risk of owning and operating Harrison onto its consumers that FirstEnergy got so encouraged to attempt to foist the risk of two of its other competitive plants onto Ohio consumers.
But, the big difference here is that West Virginia is a fully regulated state, while Ohio is a competitive state. In Ohio, electric customers can choose their generation supplier, but not their distribution provider. The electric distribution system is owned and operated by the utility who traditionally served the customers. Even deregulated states cannot change that, unless they allow other companies to construct their own separate distribution system to serve customers, and that's neither economic nor logical. Therefore, even in deregulated states, customers are still served by, and receive a bill from, their regulated distribution provider. Where generation is competitive, the distribution company simply adds the charge from your generation company to your bill and passes the costs through to you.
FirstEnergy's Powering Our Profits surcharge would be tied to its regulated distribution affiliates in Ohio. The charge is non-bypassable, which means that it would be part of your distribution service and you would pay it no matter who your generation provider is.
So, let's look at this... FirstEnergy Solutions is the FirstEnergy subsidiary that owns the competitive generators. As the owner, FES must cover the entire cost to own and operate the plants, and in return it keeps any profits or absorbs any losses that result from selling the generation into the competitive power market. But, market prices have been low and are not expected to recover any time soon. This means that FES has been subject to more losses than profits from the generators it owns. So, FirstEnergy's scheme will force its regulated distribution companies to enter into a contract to purchase all the power generated by FES's plants at a set price that will cover FES's costs and pay it an 11% profit. Suddenly, FES's generators are profitable and risk-free! But the distribution customers have a bunch of very expensive power they have purchased. Can they use it? No! FirstEnergy's POP plan requires the distribution companies to sell the generation they have purchased into the competitive power market at whatever price it can get. FirstEnergy says that in the first three years, where prices can be predicted, the distribution companies and their ratepayers will take a loss on the sale of power. However, FirstEnergy says that its crystal ball predicts that power prices will rise in the remaining years of the 15 year contract and that a profit will be made selling purchased power into the market. Gotta ask... if FirstEnergy is so certain there's a profit for these competitive generation plants just over the horizon, why don't they hold on them? Because there isn't. It's all smoke and mirrors, hopes and dreams.
FirstEnergy wants to hand the risky hot potato of owning uncompetitive generators to its Ohio distribution customers so that they can absorb the risk of market prices.
What a bunch of crooks!
Where do investor owned utilities get their silly project names? PJM gives transmission projects alpha-numeric names. Sometimes companies name their projects for the substations they connect (i.e. Susquehanna Roseland). But sometimes a company proposes a project so big, so expensive, and so outrageous that it needs its own cutsie-poo name, like some sort of fire-breathing, money-eating dragon (i.e. PATH, TrAIL, MAPP).
Behold, Project Compass!
PPL proposed this monster last week in conjunction with its 2nd quarter earnings call. Maybe it was just some elaborate distraction for investment analysts? A poorly executed joke?
At any rate, here's the motivation for this ambitious and bodacious "investment" in new transmission:
The strong year-to-date increase in ongoing earnings was driven in part by a combined $69 million from our domestic utilities, driven by returns on additional transmission investments in Pennsylvania...
Well, shoot, if you can make a little money "investing" in transmission, why not go big and make a LOT of money, right?
Also this morning, we announced a PPL Electric Utilities proposal to PJM, as part of the competitive solicitation process under FERC Order 1000. As currently proposed, the 500 kV transmission line would run about 725 miles from Western Pennsylvania into New York and New Jersey, and also south into Maryland. The project is in the preliminary planning stages. The new line would improve electric service reliability, enhance grid security and enable the development of new gas-fired power plants in the shale gas regions of Northern Pennsylvania. The proposal would create savings for millions of electric customers by delivering lower cost electricity into the region and reducing grid-congesting cost. According to preliminary estimates, the cost of the project, which is not yet included in our CapEx projections, would be between $4 billion and $6 billion. Because of the magnitude of this proposal, there is a good chance we may enter into partnerships to develop and build the project. The preliminary timeline envisions completion of the project by 2023 to 2025, assuming all necessary approvals are received and construction begins in 2017. Approvals are needed from various regulatory and regional planning entities. We'll keep you posted on any further developments.
But it doesn't sound like the analysts shared PPL's enthusiasm and confidence in Project Compass:
Daniel L. Eggers - Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division
Eat. Eat. Eat.
There's nothing "compelling" about this project. It's uninspired, unrealistic overbuild in its purest form. Why should ratepayers shell out billions to "fix" a bunch of minor problems?
Neel Mitra - Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. Securities, Inc., Research Division
Oh, right, we're supposed to spend billions to make it cheaper for new merchant generators to sell their electricity in a "competitive" market. If these new generators can't afford to compete in the market by paying their own way to existing transmission connections, then they're not profitable and competitive and shouldn't be built.
Reliability? Where's the driver for that? Or are we going to put the cart before the horse again and create the "opportunity" for transmission before creating the "reliability" issue it is intended to fix?
Substation security? How do existing substations get made safer by building new ones? Is it because we're going to increase the number of possible targets to water down interest in just a few crucial points?
Didn't factor in the economics... but I'm sure they can make something up!
Wow, pretty weak reasoning there, Greg!
Paul Patterson - Glenrock Associates LLC
See question above... they didn't factor in the economics, they're going to make that part up later!
Rajeev Lalwani - Morgan Stanley, Research Division
Because, ya know, when the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
Obviously there is no need for a new transmission project of this magnitude, but PPL thinks they can "compel" PJM into agreeing to this massive boondoggle without any competition developing. This is exactly how PJM got into trouble on Project Mountaineer. When it's not about reliability or economics, it's greed, not need.
Angie Storozynski - Macquarie Research
No, no national parks. Their last escapade in a national park cost the ratepayers $60M in hush money to the Department of Interior.
ALL the stakeholders? Landowners and ratepayers, grab your stakes, we're heading out!
The Association of Tennessee Valley Governments (ATVG) is an advocate for TVA and the local governments that reside in the Tennessee Valley region. ATVG represents the nearly 1,000 local governments that reside within the seven-state TVA region. They represent local governments in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. There is strength in numbers. Collectively, they are over nine million people strong.
The Association of Tennessee Valley Governments has urged the Tennessee Regulatory Authority to "...exercise caution as it considers the application of Clean Line Energy Partners, LLC, for a certificate of public convenience and necessity to operate as a public utility with powers of eminent domain within the State of Tennessee..."
One more strike against Clean Line, and this time it's coming from seven states that Clean Line has targeted as potential customers for its Plains & Eastern Clean Line.
On August 1, the ATVG made the following resolution, to be forwarded to the United States Department of Energy, the Tennessee Regulatory Authority, the Tennessee Congressional delegation, the Governor of Tennessee, and the TVA Board of Directors:
Whereas, the Association of Tennessee Valley Governments (ATVG) represents local governments within more than 200 Tennessee Valley River Region Counties which closely monitor issues associated with the
The ATVG recognizes the security, reliability and economic drawbacks of importing unreliable wind energy hundreds of miles, considerable price considerations aside. ATVG has also heard the message of the Clean Line opposition groups loud and clear -- eminent domain for Clean Line's projects is just plain WRONG!
Bravo, ATVG! And congratulations to the thousands of hard working grassroots activists across the midwest who remain resolute on their path to victory!