I've been trying to keep my nose to the ol' grindstone and ignore the calliope music coming from PJM's "Annual Meeting"
in Atlantic City
. But it's really hard to ignore it when a clown scampers across your computer screen before you've even had your morning coffee.
I started my day today with the latest issue of RTO Insider. I figured it went well with coffee and would be a pleasant way to wake up before going back to work on something that matters. I love RTO Insider almost as much as chocolate donuts!
Bowring, Gates’ Consultant Spar over PJM Traders’ Obligations on Loopholes
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — To shake or not to shake the Money Tree?
That was the question Independent Market Monitor Joe Bowring posed during his Year in Review presentation at PJM’s Annual Meeting last week, setting off a lively debate with one of the consultants that Richard and Kevin Gates, enlisted in their high profile defense against market manipulation allegations.
“If the rules are imperfect, is it OK to do anything not explicitly prohibited?” Bowring asked.
He quickly provided his own answer. “It is not permissible,” he said, citing what he called the “duty” of market participants to inform RTO officials and federal regulators of such “money trees.”
Is this rule supposed to apply equally to every entity FERC regulates? Doesn't Bowring realize that utilities routinely exploit "unclear" rules in order to pocket a little extra scratch? If regulated utilities had a duty to report all their "misinterpretation" money trees to FERC, we're going to need a couple more hotlines. Of course, if the utilities are so busy self-reporting all their shakes (or kicks, flicks, and karate chops) of the "money tree," they might not have time to "accidentally" misinterpret any rules that result in a profit for their shareholders, would they? Or will they simply have to hire new monkeys to shake the tree, while the old monkeys watch and phone in a report to FERC's hotline?
Utilities large and small routinely interpret FERC rules in incorrect and bizarre ways in order to squeak some additional profit from them. Except FERC never fines its utility pets $30M when they get caught breaking the rules. It's all giggle, giggle, hush, hush, slap my wrist, I promise to be good if you overlook this little "misunderstanding." FERC needs to tighten that shit up and adopt Bowring's "Money Tree Methodology" for everyone!
I do so admire Bowring's enthusiasm. You go, sport! I hear there's going to be a vacant spot on the Commission soon! Maybe you should be Chairman?
What do you suppose caused Bowring's money tree epiphany? Do you suppose he participated in the "Spa Toccare"* leisure activity in order to relax and clear his mind before giving his report to the membership?
Whatever you do, don't click on the clown picture above.
No, don't do it!
Well, that would explain things then. Thanks a lot, Joe, for making me snort with laughter before the coffee was even ready to drink.
*Dedicated to undoing the effects of your day, Spa Toccare offers relaxing treatments guaranteed to exhilarate. Here, tensions melt, knots disappear, skin glistens and eyes sparkle. A new you emerges just in time to wave bye-bye to your worldly cares.
Journalists are trained to be independent reporters of the facts. The readers are supposed to take those facts and form their own opinion. But what happens when a "journalist" tries to spin her opinion as "news?"
"Clean Line receives pocket approval from legislature."
On the heels of lawmakers voting to reject a House bill designed to stop the Grain Belt Express Clean Line project, Michael Skelly, President of Clean Line Energy, visited a Ralls County site of a Grain Belt Express Clean Line’s delivery station, a $100 million facility that proponents say will allow Missourians to receive low-cost, clean power from the Grain Belt Express Clean Line.
The Grain Belt Express Clean Line is a proposed electric power line that will deliver competitively-priced renewable energy to Missouri. The House Energy and Environment Committee voted down House Bill 1027, which would modify provisions relating to eminent domain powers of utilities, on April 28. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Frankford, who represents Monroe, Lincoln, Pike, and Ralls Counties.
“With the vote this morning, Missouri lawmakers have demonstrated that they stand behind market based solutions to bring low-cost, renewable energy to the state,” said Mark Lawlor, Director of Development for Clean Line Energy. “The Grain Belt Express Clean Line will deliver enough low-cost clean power to Missouri through a direct connection to the electric grid to power 200,000 Missouri homes. We look forward to continuing to work with landowners and community members to develop the project in Missouri in a collaborative way. This project is very important to Missouri’s energy future.”
At the hearing on the bill, supporters spoke of the benefits that the Grain Belt Express Clean Line project would bring to the state and asked legislators to block HB 1027.
According to the Legislative Drafter's Deskbook: A Practical Guide
, a "pocket approval" happens when the President does not sign a bill, but fails to return it to the legislature within 10 days. In that case, it becomes law through "pocket approval."
Is that what this reporter meant? That HB 1027 became law because the President failed to return it to the House? Or is this reporter just desperate to include the words "approval" and "Grain Belt Express" in a headline?
There was no "approval" for Grain Belt Express in Missouri. The legislature does not have authority to "approve" a transmission project. "Approval" can only come from the Missouri Public Service Commission, and the Staff of the MO PSC just last week reaffirmed their recommendation that the PSC DENY APPROVAL for Grain Belt Express.
This headline is simply the reporter's opinionated fantasy. The only thing that actually happened at the legislature is that Clean Line's expensive lobbyists managed to twist enough arms to prevent legislation supported by the people from passing. Big deal... there's always next year!
The reporter conveniently skips over the fact that GBE won't provide ANY energy to Missouri that is not purchased by an actual utility that serves electric load in the state. Evidence at the PSC indicates that there are no utilities stepping up to purchase electricity from GBE's Missouri converter station.
The article also claims: "Grain Belt Express project moves process forward, receiving public support."
Moves forward? Forward to where? GBE is still stuck in the Molasses Swamp waiting for a decision on its application from the MO PSC. It's not going anywhere.
And where's the proof that GBE has any "public support?" The evidence at hand indicates that GBE is receiving record public opposition. This is backed up by the fact that when "Mike" Skelly called a recent press conference at a field in Ralls County, the only "supporters" who showed up were brought in by GBE from many miles away. On the same day, the Ralls County Commission re-iterated its opposition to GBE, no matter how much of a company man their assessor wants to be in the media.
Here's Block GBE MO's press release that reflects what REALLY happened:
Two Counties Clarify Opposition to Grain Belt: Chariton and Ralls Legalize Letters of Rescission
Texas based Clean Line Energy, that hopes to build a 750 mile high voltage-transmission line across the state, just hit another snag. Five out of eight counties crossed have now officially rescinded permission for Grain Belt Express to access their county. In Missouri, each county and the Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC) must grant permission to erect any towers.
The staff of the Missouri PSC recommended denying Grain Belt last fall. They stated “Grain Belt Express has not shown it is needed, economically feasible, or promotes the public interest in Missouri”. They also stated, “Section 229.100 RS Mo precludes Grain Belt from building its proposed line without first obtaining the consent of the County Commission in each of the eight counties in northern Missouri where the line would be located.”
Grain Belt questioned the validity of the rescission letters from two counties that were written in the summer of 2014. They stated that Chariton County’s letter had not specifically withdrawn section 229.100 authority or permission to build.
They also stated that Ralls County had said they would consider granting franchise only after the commission approved Grain Belt. Because the county must give permission for the PSC to grant a certificate it created a chicken and egg situation. Grain Belt asked for the Certificate of Convenience and Necessity first and promises to get the consent of each of the counties afterwards.
In response, both Chariton and Ralls County submitted new letters to the PSC to reiterate that Grain Belt does not have permission to build transmission lines in their county.
Ralls County’s new letter reads, in part, “Accordingly, if our grant of authority of August 23rd, 2012 to Grain Belt Express was valid, the County Commission does hereby rescind and revoke any authority granted that date to Grain Belt Express."
Wiley Hibbard, Presiding Commissioner of Ralls County stated, “I, as well as the other two Commissioners in Ralls County, felt it was important that we should restate our opposition to GBE's application to the PSC.
"By pure coincidence, we chose to send our letter to the PSC on the same day GBE held a press conference in Ralls County. It is my understanding that no landowners from Ralls County attended. GBE had to bring a person in from a county many miles away to speak to the press. This will show Grain Belt and the PSC that landowner's rights are very important to the citizens of Ralls County.”
Jennifer Gatrel of Block Grain Belt Express Missouri stated, “We are delighted that five out of eight counties have withdrawn their permission. We are very hopeful that the Missouri PSC will quickly deny Grain Belt and allow landowners to resume our lives."
A reporter who purposely misstates the facts to promote a corporate agenda does so at the peril of her own reputation.
Brace yourselves, Americans, Congress is tinkering with energy policy again! No good can come of this. And some idiot has introduced a whole new Sec. 216 (16 U.S.C. 824p)
aka Section 1221
of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that's even worse than its first iteration.
The original, Section 1221, designated the Secretary of Energy to conduct an electric transmission "congestion study" and designate "National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors" (NIETCs) every three years. Transmission proposed in these designated corridors
was subject to "backstop" permitting by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in the event a state withheld approval of an application for a permit for more than one year, or lacked the authority to permit the project.
Section 1221 was promptly deconstructed in two federal courts. When FERC proposed that "withholding approval" included a denial, and that meant it could override a state's denial of an application, the 4th Circuit determined that "withheld approval"
excludes a state's denial of an application, preserving state authority. In addition, the 9th Circuit determined
that DOE did not properly "consult with states" before designating NIETCs, and therefore it vacated the corridors DOE had set in 2009.
Last year, DOE made a half-hearted attempt to produce the 2012 "congestion study," but was resoundingly smacked down by a whole bunch of comments, and hasn't done a thing since.
In practice, Section 1221 has been an abject failure
However, the new Section 216, carried to Congress by Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), attempts to fix all that by giving FERC authority to overrule a state denial of a transmission permit and use federal eminent domain authority to take private property. It also tosses NIETCs out the window as a means to identify worthy transmission projects and replaces them with an RTO/ISO finding that the project is "needed."
Good news: The new Sec. 216 does not apply to Clean Line in its current form.
Bad news: The new Sec. 216 will encourage a whole bunch of new transmission projects of questionable necessity, and landowners along existing corridors and/or those owning "open farmland" are always the first targets identified on the ol' transmission routing Etch-A-Sketch.
So, let's look at what the new Sec. 216 says:
(B) FEDERAL AUTHORITY.—The Commission may authorize, in accordance with subsection (d), construction of a high-priority regional transmission project that the Commission finds to be required by the present or future public convenience and necessity and in accordance with this section if--
“(i) a State--
“(I) fails to approve construction and authorize routing of a high-priority regional transmission project not later than 1 year after the date the applicant submits a completed application for authorization to the State;
“(II) rejects or denies the application for a high-priority regional transmission project;
“(III) authorizes the high-priority regional transmission project subject to conditions that unreasonably interfere with the development of a high-priority regional transmission project contrary to the purposes of this section; or
“(IV) does not have authority to approve the siting of the high-priority regional transmission project; or
“(ii) the developer seeking a certificate for construction under subsection (d) does not qualify to apply for State authorization to construct a high-priority regional transmission project because the developer does not serve end-users in the State.
So, FERC can "authorize" a transmission project if a state denies an application or conditions approval in a way the transmission developer doesn't like. That's not "backstop" or secondary authority, it's usurping state authority in its entirety. A state must approve, or else. So, why even bother with the fan dance of state applications at all? That's just a big waste of time and money.
Tell ya what... if FERC ends up with authority to overrule state transmission permitting decisions, there's going to be a lot more "turn-offs" for Commissioner Norman Bay, because the protestors will have moved "from pipelines to Order 1000." *Insert laughter here*
Second problem - how these "special" high-priority regional transmission projects are determined:
(1) HIGH-PRIORITY REGIONAL TRANSMISSION PROJECT.—The term ‘high-priority regional transmission project’ means an overhead, submarine, or underground transmission facility, including conductors or cables, towers, manhole duct systems, reactors, capacitors, circuit breakers, static VAR compensators, static synchronous compensators, power converters, transformers, synchronous condensers, braking resistors, and any ancillary facilities and equipment necessary for the proper operation of the facility, that is selected in a regional transmission plan for the purposes of cost allocation under Order Number 1000 of the Commission (or any successor order), including an interregional project selected under that plan.
That's it -- mere selection of and inclusion in a regional transmission plan makes a project "high-priority." Ummm... does Heinrich know that RTOs include hundreds of projects in their regional plans each year? "High-priority" over what? Transmission projects that aren't in a regional plan? Those are few and far between because they're nearly impossible to build (ain't that right, Clean Line?) So, every
project is going to be a "high-priority" project in this brave, new world?
It's quite obvious that S.1017 intends to "fix" everything that went wrong with the original Sec. 216, including the flawed NIETCs and the ability of a state to deny an application for a transmission project that did not serve its citizens. But, let's ask ourselves, does it really need fixing? State approvals aren't the problem with new transmission, it's federal approvals and studies that muck up and delay transmission plans. In addition, Congress has resolutely refused to make electric transmission siting and permitting a federal responsibility, and will most likely continue to do so.
There seemed to be little love for controversial legislation like S.1017 at Thursday's Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing. But, you know how Congress is... they get up to all sorts of hijinks if you don't keep your eye on them, so this bears a bit of babysitting.
One more thing before I wrap this up... where did this legislation come from?
The original Sec. 216 got its purpose from:
(4) In determining whether to designate a national interest electric transmission corridor under paragraph (2), the Secretary may consider whether--
(A) the economic vitality and development of the corridor, or the end markets served by the corridor, may be constrained by lack of adequate or reasonably priced electricity;
(i) economic growth in the corridor, or the end markets served by the corridor, may be jeopardized by reliance on limited sources of energy; and
(ii) a diversification of supply is warranted;
(C) the energy independence of the United States would be served by the designation;
(D) the designation would be in the interest of national energy policy; and
(E) the designation would enhance national defense and homeland security.
Nothing in there about renewable energy, right?
Now take a look at the purpose of the new Sec. 216:
(a) Policy.—It is the policy of the United States that the national interstate transmission system should be guided by the goal of maximizing the net benefits of the electricity system, taking into consideration--
“(1) support for the development of new, cleaner power generation capacity, including renewable energy generation located distant from load centers;
“(2) opportunities for reduced emissions from regional power production;
“(3) transmission needs driven by public policy requirements established by State or Federal laws (including regulations);
“(4) cost savings resulting from--
“(A) reduced transmission congestion;
“(B) enhanced opportunities for intraregional and interregional electricity trades;
“(C) reduced line losses;
“(D) generation resource-sharing; and
“(E) enhanced fuel diversity;
“(5) reliability benefits, including satisfying reliability standards and guidelines for resource adequacy and system security;
“(6) diversification of risk relating to events affecting fuel supply or generating resources in a particular region;
“(7) the enhancement of competition in electricity markets and mitigation of market power;
“(8) the ability to collocate facilities on existing rights-of-way;
“(9) competing land use priorities, including land protected under Federal or State law;
“(10) the requirements of section 217(b)(4); and
“(11) the contribution of demand side management (including energy efficiency and demand response), energy storage, distributed generation resources, and smart grid investments.
Let's get the profitable infrastructure project party started!
A landowner from southeast Iowa today said he has recorded proof a land agent for the proposed Bakken Pipeline offered to get him an 18-year-old prostitute if he’d grant access rights to his property so the pipeline may pass through.
Hughie Tweedy of Montrose said he recorded two of his conversations with the land agent.
“On these recordings you will hear evidence of my senior pipeline representative offering me not once, not twice, but three times the sexual services of a woman,” Tweedy said, “the last time being a $1200 teenage prostitute.”
“If anybody knows of anyone who’s been dealt with unfairly,” Boeyink says, “get the names to me and we will deal with it swiftly.”
I'm thinking Boeyink didn't move too "swiftly." Or maybe he's been a whirling dervish but simply can't keep up with the unsavory activities of his hired land agents.
Whether it's offering ponies and prostitutes to landowners in exchange for easements, or pizza parties and puppy chow to college students in exchange for signatures on petitions of support, buying public support for infrastructure projects is big business!
And who do you think is first in line for the free cheese?
“If an old junkyard dog like me was offered the sexual services of little girls to get my hackles down, I wonder what was offered to the powerbrokers of this state to gain their support for silence,” Tweedy said. “Shame, shame, shame.”
Can't add anything to that wisdom.
While up to my elbows in dirt yesterday, I got a little buzz on my phone telling me that PJM had awarded the Artificial Island project to... LS Power. I laughed -- loud and hard. If you laugh in the garden, and nobody is around to hear it, did you really laugh? Or do your neighbors simply think that you've finally gone off the rails?
PJM's Artificial Island project window has been fraught with problems from the get-go. The RTO initially awarded the project to one of its favored incumbents, but was set upon by other competitors who made a convincing case that the process was not competitive.
PJM hired some wacky "constructability" study to try to prove that its selection was based on the ease with which the project could be constructed. That was a big waste of money. The study failed to note the single, most-important reason projects get delayed -- public opposition! Opposition is directly related to routing and the physical impact of the project, and the way its public relations are handled -- the worse the transmission developer does
at this, the bigger the resultant opposition. That's a big, big factor in "constructability."
PJM got schooled on what "constructability" really means.
And the project PJM ultimately selected makes an underground crossing of the Delaware River and avoids protected wildlife refuges.
Lesson learned, PJM?
Here's your "constructability" checklist, for future reference:
1. Does this project make use of existing infrastructure that could be upgraded or rebuilt to lessen impact of a new right-of-way?
2. Can this project be buried along existing or new rights-of-way?
3. Can this project be avoided entirely with non-transmission alternatives?
4. What alternatives are there to the project that you can share with the public?
If these things are truly considered, you could avoid the worst part of public opposition and win the "constructability" war.
It's also of note that LS Power proposed a cost cap for its project. LS Power now has a firm budget for its project. If it exceeds budget, it's going to have to justify why and beg on bended knee to recover its overruns. A cost cap also acts as a performance standard. If LS Power doesn't perform to get this project built on time and within budget
, it does so at its own peril.
Let's hope the cost cap is also a lesson well-learned by PJM. It's what Congress intended when creating financial incentives for transmission
, and cost caps effectively end the "the more we spend, the more we make" attitude so pervasive in the transmission industry today, to the benefit of electric ratepayers.
Knock, knock!Who's there?
Regional Transmission Organization!
Is it PJM?
Is it MISO?
Is it SPP?
Which Regional Transmission Organization is it?
It's merchant transmission wanna-be Clean Line Energy Partners!
Go away, Clean Line, you're not a Regional Transmission Organization!
The U.S. Department of Energy has finally published Clean Line's third "application" to have the DOE "participate" in its Plains & Eastern Clean Line transmission project in preparation for opening a new 45-day public comment period on non-NEPA issues. The only thing missing on this pile of make-believe is the golden binding.
This supplemental application is Clean Line's third chance to cure defects in its prior two applications, such as the fact that Sec. 1222 requires that an eligible project:
(2) is consistent with--
(A) transmission needs identified, in a transmission expansion plan or otherwise, by the appropriate Transmission Organization (as defined in the Federal Power Act [16 U.S.C. 791a et seq.]), if any, or approved regional reliability organization;
None of Clean Line's projects are included in a RTO/ISO plan. In fact, Clean Line hasn't even bothered submitting its projects into any regional planning process for consideration.
So, what did Clean Line do when the DOE asked that it prove its project met the statutory requirements under Sec. 1222? Clean Line pretends to be a Regional Transmission Organization!
2.2 The proposed Project must be consistent with transmission needs identified, in a transmission expansion plan or otherwise, by the appropriate Transmission Organization (as defined in the Federal Power Act, 16 U.S.C. 791a et seq.) if any, or approved regional
In establishing this criterion, Congress sought to ensure that projects undertaken through Section 1222 are appropriately planned to meet identified transmission needs. The Plains & Eastern Project meets this requirement. On an interregional basis, numerous planning
initiatives and reports have identified the need for new West-East transmission lines to move
wind power from the central United States to load centers. On a regional basis, SPP and MISO (the two RTOs with which the Project interconnects) have also identified the need for new transmission facilities to accommodate wind generation. Further the Project has been planned and developed in a manner that is consistent with ISO/RTO planning assessments. Namely, in planning and developing the Project, Clean Line performed a series of studies and evaluations that are consistent with how the ISOs and RTOs generally identify needs and solutions for transmission system development. A final measure by which Clean Line meets the statutory requirement is its consistency with reliability standards issued by the approved regional reliability organizations (“RRO”) as envisioned under Section 1222. In light of these multiple areas of consistency, further detailed below, Project meets the criterion for consistency with planning and identified transmission needs.
That's right. Clean Line says that it planned its project using the same studies that RTOs use to make regional transmission plans, therefore Clean Line's findings that its project meets identified transmission needs are just as good as any RTO determination.
Here's what it takes to be a Regional Transmission Organization:
(j) Required characteristics for a Regional Transmission Organization.
A Regional Transmission Organization must satisfy the following characteristics when it commences operation:
(1) Independence. The Regional Transmission Organization must be independent of any market participant. The Regional Transmission Organization must include, as part of its demonstration of independence, a demonstration that it meets the following:
(i) The Regional Transmission Organization, its employees, and any non-stakeholder directors must not have financial interests in any market participant.
(ii) The Regional Transmission Organization must have a decision making process that is independent of control by any market participant or class of participants.
(iii) The Regional Transmission Organization must have exclusive and independent authority under section 205 of the Federal Power Act (16 U.S.C. 824d), to propose rates, terms and conditions of transmission service provided over the facilities it operates.
Get it, Clean Line? You can't be a Regional Transmission Organization that identifies transmission needs as long as you have a PECUNIARY
interest in a project under consideration.
Clean Line is not a Regional Transmission Organization.
Just one more thing to fight about in federal court? Any determination by DOE that Clean Line's project(s) qualify under Section 1222 is sort of like one of those Monopoly "Go To Jail" cards. Go to Federal Court. Go Directly to Federal Court. Do Not Pass "Go." Do not collect... any money at all.
Do you suppose Clean Line is also going to be on the hook for DOE's legal bills, or is the American Taxpayer going to end up funding this courtroom showdown?
Yesterday marked the official conclusion of the FERC hearing that's taken up so much of my time over the past month or so.
I'm sure numerous celebrations occurred.
Some were more fun
For those who remarked that the second celebration didn't look like much fun, I offer that the beer was picked up off the table, the light turned out, and the room vacated. Instant fun!
Now, where did I leave my life? Anyone seen it?
First, I offer this article from WSJ* (I admit it, the world has been revolving even though I paid it little attention). It's finally been recognized that utilities may be investing in infrastructure as a cash cow. Ya think?
The way the regulated rate world works is that the more they invest, the more $$ they make. Although utilities have a built in O&M component in most stated rates, if they don't spend it all, they can use the money for something else, such as increasing shareholder dividends. And they did. But, as less power is sold, profits go down and the utility must turn to other profit centers, such as increased capital spending on long-neglected maintenance, or new transmission lines. And rates go up.
And they wonder why we drink...
*If you can't read the article, google the headline "Utilities' Profit Recipe: Spend More" and you should be able to access it directly.
It's a good thing when it supports the public enjoyment of the arts, history, or nature. But where does the line get drawn between philanthropy and tossing money down the toilet?
Do you suppose that the Clean Line executives sing and dance for their investors? They ought to, since I believe that's all the investors are going to get in exchange for their philanthropy.
It's been a while since we've gotten a look at who's supplying the money that keeps this rickety boat afloat. During the ICC RICL hearings in December of 2013, we heard that Clean Line was going to be out of money by mid-2014.
But, here they still are... being a nuisance to Mayberry. Looks like National Grid had to up the ante and kick in another $15M. And since a 40% share seems to have increased in value, does this mean that other investors have also flushed some more money down the Clean Line potty? And what about Bank of America? Didn't one of Clean Line's spinners say the company was getting cash from Bank of America?
If we can believe Clean Line's Grain Belt Express application to the Illinois Commerce Commission, here's a listing of who's to blame for funding this fiasco:
GridAmerica Holdings (National Grid) has invested $55.7M and currently owns 40% of the company.
ZAM Ventures (Ziff brothers) has invested $73.8M and currently is the majority owner, with a 53% stake.
Michael Zilkha has a piddling $2.8M invested, which gives him a 2% ownership interest.
The remaining 5% (or $6.7M) is owned by "Clean Line Investment" which is some vague investment vehicle owned by "service providers and employees of Clean Line."
Total investment: Around $140M
That's a lot of green that is simply going to disappear when Clean Line's circus tent folds in the middle of the night and the company slips out of town. But that's okay, I'm sure these savvy investors wouldn't invest money they couldn't afford to lose.
$140M invested and the company still doesn't have even one of its projects fully permitted and ready to build.
In addition, all the interest in the project is coming from non-existent generators. It really doesn't matter how much Clean Line talks about how much its project is needed by other states in the east, without any contracts, Clean Line will fail.
Dance, Clean Line, dance!!!
Disturbing news out of Colorado this morning. The Denver Post reports
that the legislature is playing games with funding of the Colorado Office of Consumer Counsel (OCC) for the next 10 years. Without funding and authorization, the OCC will simply cease to exist under Colorado's "sunset" law.
A concerned legislator likened the refusal to deal with the re-funding of the OCC to "Washington, D.C.-style politics."
"If people disagree on the policy, the substance or the process, that's fair; that's what we're each here to do," Garcia said. "But what we're seeing here is Washington, D.C.-style politics where you put something off to the side, and the committee chair doesn't give it due regard until it's too late."
Why is consumer counsel so important? Because it is the utility consumer's only defense against high rates and utility policy that compromises their interest. Only the consumer counsel is looking out for residential and small business interests during utility rate cases. Without the OCC, residential consumers would have no choice but to represent themselves in every utility case before the Colorado Public Utilities Commission. Who can afford the time or expense of that? Nobody, therefore consumers would be unrepresented. It's just not true that outside consumer groups, contingency-based lawyers, or class-action lawsuits can take the place of an independent, governmental advocate that defends the interests of all
residential and small business consumers.
According to a report prepared last fall, the OCC regularly saves this class of consumers between $40-50 million per year in increased rates. The cost of this representation is a mere $1.5M/year. The funding for the OCC comes from fees paid by regulated utilities, not out of the state's general fund. It costs consumers nothing, and it consistently saves them money. The report recommends continuing the OCC until 2026. However, the legislature is ignoring it, and without their nod, the OCC will sunset.
Don't let the Colorado legislature rob you of the representation that keeps your utility bill in check. Without the OCC, out-of-control rate increases could have you lamenting that "someone" should do something about that. The OCC is the consumer's "someone," even though most consumers don't even know they exist. Get educated and take an active role in the processes that control your utility costs -- support the re-funding of the Colorado Office of Consumer Counsel.
Halt The Power Lines makes it quick and easy to do your part! Visit them here to find out how to take action!
If I didn't know any better, I'd think that Clean Line's Grain Belt Express Project was trying to unload a whole bunch of 90s beanie babies. Once upon a time, beanie babies were so popular, it was a seller's market. Now, you can't give the critters away.
Same deal with GBE.
Big announcement that the results of GBE's open season attracted requests for service totaling more than 4 times available capacity. Beanie babies for sale!!!
However, GBE's open season didn't attract any buyers for the power in Missouri. Poor, homeless, unwanted beanie babies!!!
And why would that be? Because, according to the staff of the Missouri Public Service Commission, none of the utilities in Missouri need to purchase wind power to meet their renewable portfolio standard goals.
"Grain Belt Express has not shown its project is the most cost-effective means of compliance with renewable energy standards in Missouri, as all but one of Missouri's investor owned utilities has already disclosed that it has existing capacity and new contracts that will meet or exceed the 15% renewable portfolio standard target by 2021."
GBE's mouthpiece tried to pretend Missouri was always the intended terminus of his project.
Ten respondents submitted requests for service to deliver some 3,000 MW of power to Missouri, more than six times the available capacity at that delivery station, Lawler said.
“We have 500 MW going to Missouri, which is enough to power 500,000 Missouri homes,” he said. “The rest of it will go farther east, to Illinois and Indiana.”
“Originally we had it all going to Missouri, but the grid there is not robust enough to take full delivery, so we had to bust it up and make an additional delivery point.”
Something got busted up here, and I think it's Clean Line's propensity to make crap up. The Missouri converter station didn't exist until Clean Line came to the realization that there was NO WAY they could get their project approved in Missouri as long as it was intended as a fly over state to lucrative eastern energy markets. But, despite Clean Line's offer of beanie baby consolation prizes for Missouri, they're still in serious trouble.
“In Missouri, we’re at the very tail-end of the regulatory process,” Lawler said. “We expect an order from the (Missouri Public Service Commission) in the next couple of months. There is no regulatory time frame (for approval) like there is in Kansas. We expect a decision in the first half of this year.”
Sure, everyone expects an order from the MO PSC, but there's no guarantee that it will be a favorable decision. How much longer is Clean Line going to pretend everything is hunky dory while the SS Clean Line is rapidly taking on water? That's awfully brave of them, don't you think?
And what about the rest of the power that's intended to be delivered into PJM's eastern grid... any interest from buyers there? Nope. The eastern U.S. doesn't need any beanie babies, either.
So, just like its open season on its Plains & Eastern project, Clean Line is holding a bag full of beanie babies that nobody wants. None of these generators have been built yet, and won't be built until they have buyers for their product. Who is going to contract with an unbuilt generator to maybe supply power via an unbuilt transmission line that can't get state approvals? Utilities hate risk (and beanie babies).
Take a memo, Clean Line: There's no interest in your product. The utility industry has been trying to tell you this since your inception. You just can't overcome the chicken/egg scenario that makes utilities shy away from resource uncertainty. Yes, I understand Mikey thought they were wrong when he decided to market beanie babies way back in 2009. But time has been unkind to his beanie baby market. The sooner he admits it and stops this farce, the better off we'll all be!