Big article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday, Assault on California Power Station Raises Alarm on Potential for Terrorism, that reports on a coordinated attack at a California substation that sounds like a scene from an action film.
According to the article, the information came from former FERC Commissioner Jon Wellinghoff, who has taken up lurking around substations in his dotage. Apparently Wellinghoff was horrified at the substation attack last April and the subsequent realization that our grid is astonishingly vulnerable and there's not much FERC can do about it.
I know what FERC can do about it... Stop promoting centralized generation and an increasing network of high voltage transmission lines to trade electricity like a commodity from coast to coast!
If you think substations are vulnerable, spend a few minutes pondering the thousands of miles of high voltage transmission lines strung everywhere. True, an attack on one remote tower may not have much effect and could be easily fixed, but what about a coordinated attack on hundreds of towers that supply our cities at the same time?
Our military isn't dumb enough to rely on a power supply this vulnerable, so why should we? As far back as 2007, the U.S. military was studying electric grid vulnerability and concluded that "distributed generation" (yes, they used quotes, like Dr. Evil with his "laser") was our best defense.
And so it is - our military is practicing distributed generation.
So, when is Congress going to put a stop to the transmission feeding frenzy and start protecting the rest of us?
The target of their legislation is the Rock Island Clean Line, a $2 billion, 500-mile overhead direct current transmission line.
Rogers called private property rights “critically important to our way of life.”
“Many farmers in my district live and work on land that has been in their family for generations, and they want to allow their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren to continue to farm that land and feed the world,” Rogers said. “Our laws must adequately protect their property rights.”
requires that any power line project requesting eminent domain authority must deliver at least 25% of its power to consumers in Iowa. RICL intends to export power from northwest Iowa direct to eastern Illinois, where it will be interconnected with PJM Interconnection, the regional grid operator for mid-Atlantic eastern states.
The second bill requires legislative approval of any request to bifurcate an application for a transmission project in order to separate the determination of need from the request for eminent domain authority. RICL tried to use bifurcation to force landowners into a weak negotiating position for rights-of-way, but was rejected by the Iowa Utilities Board.
Be sure to check the lobbyist declarations on both these bills. Clean Line doesn't appear to be happy about them. I suppose fair is fair though... Iowans don't seem to be very happy about RICL, either.
I wonder if our Clean Line heroes envisioned this kind of opposition when planning their get-rich-quick power line scheme back in 2011? I've heard it said that they gleefully dismissed any possibility of trouble, expecting nothing more than "a couple of ticked off farmers." Personally, I'd never want to tick off any farmers. They have pitchforks. And I like the food they grow.
And speaking of eminent domain, legislators in Missouri are livid over the Arkansas Public Service Commission's approval of a SWEPCO transmission route through 25 miles of Missouri. Within 10 days of the APSC decision, legislators had proposed:
The bill states that “the Missouri Public Service commission shall lack jurisdiction to approve the construction of any electric facilities to be built in accordance with Arkansas Public Service Commission Order 33, Docket Number 13-041-U, authorizing Route 109 as a ‘reasonable route’ for the construction of new three hundred forty-five kilovolt electric transmission lines.”
The overbuilding of new transmission of questionable necessity as a utility or investor profit center has finally gone too far. The people have had enough of this nonsense and their elected representatives are taking action. This transmission craze is now making it difficult to build ANY transmission, even that which may actually be needed. Their cash cow is down and slowly bleeding to death, and it's their own fault. Ooops.
Here's one for the "what not to do" transmission developer files.
AEP subsidiary Southwestern Electric Power Company ("SWEPCO") has been trying to get approval from the Arkansas PSC to construct a 345kv high voltage transmission line through the scenic Arkansas Ozarks region.
SWEPCO has met stiff opposition in the form of Save the Ozarks, a grassroots opposition group that produced thousands of public comments and presented a formidable opposition during evidentiary hearings before the Arkansas Public Service Commission.
Earlier this month, the judge issued her ruling recommending that the Commission issue a CPCN (permit), and selecting one of six routes submitted with the application by SWEPCO. Save the Ozarks has vowed to continue the fight through appeals.
However, the route selected by Judge Griffin, dubbed Route 109, was not SWEPCO's recommended route. SWEPCO's recommended route was a direct Point A to Point B route that remained wholly within the state of Arkansas, but marched through local scenic treasures like Godzilla on the way to Tokyo. However, the judge-selected route also begins in Northwest Arkansas, but makes a quick beeline for the state border, where it meanders through 25 miles of Missouri before dipping back into Arkansas to connect with SWEPCO's new substation. Judge Griffin's selected route avoided some of the damage to Arkansas by pushing it over the border into Missouri.
And here's where the fun starts... SWEPCO is not a public utility in Missouri and has not filed an application for its project in that state. But now it will have to...
Should the Arkansas Public Service Commission approve Griffin’s order, Route 109 presents an unusual challenge, according to Brian Johnson, an employee of American Electric Power who testified on behalf of SWEPCO last fall. Johnson said the choice introduces an additional, unprecedented regulatory process because it crosses a state line.
“The permitting process for Missouri anticipates that any petitioning entity will already be a Missouri Public Utility — which SWEPCO and (American Electric Power) are not. It is unprecedented for a non-public utility to construct a line through Missouri, particularly without directly serving any Missouri customers. The likely regulatory delays and complications that arise from the line route in Missouri are of substantial concern,” Johnson testified.
What's that you say? "Substantial concern?" I think that's the understatement of the year. Missouri isn't looking fondly on the prospect of hosting a transmission line that doesn't benefit its citizens.
Sen. David Sater, who is from Cassville and represents Barry, Lawrence, McDonald, Stone and Taney counties, said he is angered by the chosen route. He, Lant and Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick, of Shell Knob, met with commissioners last week.
“We encouraged MPSC members to act on behalf of Missourians and not on behalf of people from Arkansas. I think we made our presence felt there, and hopefully they’ll reject this,” Sater said.
Why, AEP, why? Why did you toss in a route that crossed into a state where you don't do business? That was pretty stupid, wasn't it?
Lesson for transmission developers: Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.
Mr. Akins said he wants to avoid the bruising battles that delayed or doomed big projects in the past, like the 275-mile Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline project from West Virginia to Maryland. AEP and partner FirstEnergy Corp. dropped development plans for the complex project in 2011.
"Sometimes, we were just dreaming" that the companies could get enormous power lines built across multiple states, Mr. Akins said. He said AEP now is focusing on shorter projects blessed by federal regulators that eliminate grid bottlenecks. "It's where you want to put your money," he said.
The transmission investment gravy train has also left the station. The sheer number of new transmission projects proposed combined with today's ease of online information sharing and social media tools has led to an explosion of knowledgeable, interconnected transmission opposition groups who are combining resources across the country to delay or stop unneeded projects altogether.
Instead of embracing innovation and new technology to make the existing grid smarter
, some utilities are intent on merely building more of the same old dumb grid, or actively attempting to stifle innovation by forcing us all into an historic "consumer" position where we must funnel money to incumbent utilities in order to survive
. Ultimately, this plan will also fail, because technology marches relentlessly on
How we produce and use electricity is also changing. Not only is producing our own electricity locally better for our economy, it's also much more reliable. Hurricane Sandy was one of the biggest wake-up calls we've had recently, and the inevitable Monday morning quarterbacking of that disaster reveals that increasing long distance, aerial transmission from remote generation is simply dangerous.
Making our grid more reliable isn't about building more transmission. It's about change:
This includes traditional tactics, such as upgrading power poles and trimming trees near power lines. But it also encompasses newer approaches, such as microgrids and energy storage, which allow operators to quickly reconfigure the system when portions of the grid go down. Implicit to such plans is the need to ensure uninterrupted power to critical sites such as oil and gas refineries, water-treatment plants, and telecommunication networks, as well as gasoline stations, hospitals, and pharmacies.
Some of the nation’s leaders seem receptive to such approaches.
Elected officials, progressive regulators, energy producers, energy consumers, and innovative companies embracing new technology are also increasingly joining forces to move our energy economy forward and away from the dated centralized generation and transmission business plan of the past. Companies who continue to deny the inevitable will ultimately be the ones left behind in irrelevance.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. --
US social anthropologist (1901 - 1978)
It appears that EUCI has knuckled under from citizen pressure and kicked Clean Line's executives off the speakers line up for its 8th Annual Public Participation for Transmission Siting Conference
scheduled for January 23-24, 2014 in Houston. Clean Line is also no longer sponsoring the conference.
The original agenda put together by Clean Line included offensive sessions entitled "Going BANANAS with NIMBYs - Best Practices in Dealing with Community Based Opposition Groups" and "Marketing to Mayberry: Communicating with Rural America."
The new agenda has been "cleansed" of Clean Line influence and the offensive sessions have been renamed "Best Practices in dealing with community based opposition groups" and "Communicating with rural America," dispensing with the offensive and cutsey-poo insults of transmission opposition groups.
But, does this make EUCI's continuing education conference any more useful? Probably not. It still more closely resembles a transmission industry echo chamber, where industry blowhards make crap up and feed it to the attendees as a successful example to follow. The truth is that "the public" continues to laugh at these idiots' attempts to "participate" with us to successfully site their projects. It's not about "participating" with the public at all... it's about sharing ideas for ways to lie and cheat the public in order to win project approval.
The only way to successfully "participate" with the public is to actually dirty your hands consorting with them, and EUCI isn't about to let THAT happen. Offhand, I can't think of a more useless conference for the industry. For the opposition, however, it's a fun opportunity, as protestors at a Missouri EUCI conference found out a couple months ago. See you there!
Well, isn't this cozy?
FirstEnergy is "sponsoring" a 2014 Legislative Outlook luncheon, and charging the people $15 a head to come talk to their elected officials.
Sort of lets you know who's in charge, doesn't it? FirstEnergy pulls the strings and the legislators line up like trick ponies at the circus... a circus that you must pay to attend.
What happens when you combine clueless billionaires, former government officials and environmental warriors?
The Energy Future Coalition.
Whatever may once have been good about this organization has been thoroughly exterminated by greedy transmission speculators and arrogant clean energy maniacs (cleaniacs) on an unmindful mission to "save the world" in a big ol' hurry.
To put it quite bluntly, the "big green" NGO "clean energy now" militancy is beginning to backfire and disenchant a growing section of middle America. At a meeting last week, I mentioned that I was not going to renew my Sierra Club membership this year because I disagree with the direction the club's leadership has taken recently. To my surprise, the sentiment went around the table, with several others volunteering that they had also cancelled their memberships, or were planning to do so. In addition, many farmers (the original environmentalists!) have become repulsed at the "big green" push to accomplish hostile takeovers of their factories to re-purpose them to produce "clean energy," instead of food. The environmental NGOs have gone too far and are actually fomenting a middle-America rebellion against clean energy.
In 2010, the EFC launched "Americans for a Clean Energy Grid" (ACEG) to ostensibly support their work on smart grid initiatives. However, instead of encouraging "a modernized electrical grid that uses information and communications technology to gather and act on information, such as information about the behaviors of suppliers and consumers, in an automated fashion to improve the efficiency, reliability, economics, and sustainability of the production and distribution of electricity," ACEG has turned into an organization that attempts to smother due process to enrich its "members." And, along the way, no actual "Americans" were engaged. ACEG is nothing but a front group for entities who stand to make enormous profits building unneeded high voltage transmission lines.
This article in Smart Grid News foreshadows the kind of jack-booted "clean energy" future in store for us if we don't rein in these avaricious fakes before they cause any more damage.
Cleaniacs are all about building new "dumb" transmission, and they are chafing at existing laws and due process afforded to citizens holding rights to land "clean energy" transmission developers covet for new rights-of-way.
Here are several lies these cleaniacs are spreading:
1. "The grid was built first to connect power plants to cities, then to connect cities to each other, and more recently to join regions together." While the first two connections are correct, the last one is false. The more recent "connection" has been made to trade energy as a commodity over long distances. It all started with Enron, and although Enron collapsed under the weight of its own treachery, energy trading still provides a fertile breeding ground for market manipulation that fills the coffers of energy traders who gleefully "lift the piss out of" energy prices consumers pay.
2. "While part of this expansion is intended to reach out to remote areas with wind and solar resources, it is also necessary to connect everything to everything, to allow for the free flow of electrons, to minimize the variability of wind and solar power." Connect everything to everything... so that when one small component fails the entire country pitches into darkness? This isn't safe or reliable.
3. "High-voltage transmission lines make the grid more efficient and reliable by alleviating congestion, promoting bulk-power competition, reducing generation costs, and allowing grid operators to balance supply and demand over larger regions." Makes the grid more reliable by "allowing" grid operators to balance supply and demand over larger regions? That's a complicated recipe for disaster!
The rise of distributed generation is treated like a mere speed bump.
"The rapid advance of distributed generation is one wild card. FERC Chair Jon Wellinghoff has noted that the rapid progress with rooftop solar could reduce the need for transmission to connect big renewables from remote regions. 'We need to build only the transmission that we need,' he told Public Utilities Fortnightly."
It gets a brief mention as only a "wild card," before the authors jump right back into the "benefits" of more transmission.
The cleaniacs claim the grid has been stymied by:
Boundaries: regions have to share the costs of new lines that cross their borders;
Benefits: regulators have to make sure payments for new transmission are “roughly commensurate” with the benefits, and paid by the beneficiary;
Siting: new lines must minimize environmental and cultural impacts, and provide fair compensation to landowners, yet the siting process is often inconsistent and uncoordinated;
Policy: not all states plan their transmission around pro-renewable policies, though renewables are starting to be economic without policy.
But what they really mean is that transmission developer and supplier profits have been stymied by just and reasonable cost allocation, due process for affected landowners, and state authority. These are things that should not and cannot be improved upon. However, that doesn't stop the cleaniacs from making recommendations for the phantom "policy makers." Who are these people? Do they even exist at the level referred to in this article? Or are they just more empty cleaniac platitudes?
- Policy makers must accurately assess the costs and benefits of transmission expansion, incorporating public policy goals, operational benefits, lower overall power sector costs, and economic development. Why are there no "costs" on this list if we're assessing the costs and benefits? Could it be that costs are not being accurately assessed?
- Planners should prioritize transmission lines that link balancing areas, so that we can connect strong renewable resources to loads, reduce the impacts of their variability, and integrate them seamlessly into the grid. What if "planners" prioritized distributed generation, demand management and energy efficiency? Aren't these cleaniac goals as well as building new transmission?
- Regions should harmonize grid operations and increase competition in electricity markets, to reduce costs and increase efficiency. And keep those JP Morgan and Barclay's guys out of the food stamp line.
- Regulators should slash the timeline for planning, building, and siting transmission through better coordination, clear rules and expectations, and best practices in siting. What's wrong with this timeline? 1)Plan a project; 2)build a project; 3)site a project. Where does due process for affected citizens fit in that expedited timeline? And here's another useless business buzzword "best practices in siting." You mean these?
- We must make the most of existing lines and new ones once they are built, through energy efficiency, distributed generation, and technical fixes like dynamic line rating. This is probably the most ridiculous recommendation -- someone just had to insert "and new ones once they are built" into a sentence that only made sense without the addition. Rebuilding existing lines should be the FIRST priority, not "building new ones." How stupid would it be to build a new transmission line and then "make the most of it" by applying technical fixes? These cleaniacs really aren't too smart, are they?
So, what do you get when you combine thousands of concerned landowners and ratepayers that oppose the out-of-control building of new transmission of dubious worth and motive? Perhaps we'll soon find out...
Do you think Clean Line Energy Partners learned anything the last time they came to Mendota? I hope so, because those Texans were like fish out of water. Their over-the-top attempts to take over and control a public event that was intended for landowners affected by the company's project were not well-received. In fact, they were downright destructive to Clean Line's public image. It's impossible to get away with that kind of nonsense in "Mayberry," where everybody knows everybody else and many unnoticed eyes and ears are always collecting information.
Why is Clean Line so afraid to let affected landowners have their say? It seems only fair that those asked to sacrifice for this company's project at least be allowed to speak publicly about their sacrifice, without restraint or interference from the company.
So, is Clean Line planning another round of underhanded shenanigans? I hope not. Any attempts to unfairly control the hearing will be exposed. Clean Line should get over their idea that they're dealing with "a bunch of dumb farmers."
Here's a trio of tricks Clean Line should drop from its repertoire:
1. Line jumping by signing up speakers who are not present. Clean Line got publicly called out on this one last time, when its white-shirted schemers deployed individuals to sign the names of people who were not present to the speakers list, just to make sure they were "saved" a good spot in the line-up. But that practice backfired... because of the aforementioned unseen eyes and ears.
See the woman in beige? I have no idea what her name is, but I know it's not Theresa Hoover, Sales Manager of The Southwire Company. But, there she is, in line right behind me to sign up to speak at the first Mendota hearing. When this same woman was called to the microphone much earlier than me, I wondered if the hearing officer had somehow mixed up his list. It all became clear when "Theresa Hoover" was called to speak after me, and no one responded. Here's what happened next, according to the transcript
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Excuse me.You called Theresa Hoover who is a colleague of mine right before this gentleman spoke. Is there an opportunity for me to speak?
HEARING OFFICER: Say that
AUDIENCE MEMBER: You called
HEARING OFFICER: Yes.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: My name was
supposed to be on the card instead of
Theresa's, so when you called her I
didn't step up because I didn't know it
HEARING OFFICER: I have got to
go by what I started with.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: So would it
be okay if Theresa came up and spoke?
HEARING OFFICER: Pardon me?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Are you
saying Theresa would need to come up?
HEARING OFFICER: Correct.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Okay.
Fast Forward through one speaker...
HEARING OFFICER: Where did
that gentleman go that asked me the
Is Theresa here?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: She is.
HEARING OFFICER: Where is she?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Here.
HEARING OFFICER: Theresa,
stand up, please.
Was it supposed to be his name on
there instead of yours?
THERESA HOOVER: Yes, sir, it
HEARING OFFICER: Okay.
KERYN NEWMAN: Some other lady
signed that name because they were right
in front of us. Some lady that already
spoke signed Theresa's name up. I
watched her do it.
Theresa and him, neither one of them
signed their name
HEARING OFFICER: Is that true?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I did not sign my name. Theresa was supposed to sign my name.
HEARING OFFICER: Theresa, did
you sign your name?
THERESA HOOVER: No, sir,
actually someone who got here before us.
We made a long trip from Atlanta and
there was a gentleman that signed us up.
HEARING OFFICER: No, no.
Word is, there won't be a sign up at Monday's hearing. I wonder if that is the ICC's way of preventing a repeat of this kind of bad behavior?
2. The game of musical chairs intended to replace landowners in the auditorium with late-arrival, Clean Line-clad speakers in the lobby.
Those who were standing along the wall of the auditorium weren’t able to hear the testimony for long. Shortly after Nelson finished, a Mendota Police Department officer appeared at the stage and conversed with the moderator for several minutes.
“The fire marshal says we have exceeded the number of people in this room. All the people who are standing up against the wall, you are either going to have to leave the room or look for a seat. If you’re not in a seat, you have to be out of this room,” said the moderator, who then proceeded to call out the locations of empty chairs in the auditorium.
When those chairs were filled, a large number of Mendota police officers cleared those who still were standing out into the entryway of the high school. However, a few minutes later, some half a dozen people wearing Clean Line Energy shirts were standing back in one of the doorways, and police did not move to order them away.
Most of those who had been standing in the auditorium and who could not find a seat left the hearing as there was no provision for audio or video feed of the remarks outside the auditorium.
The ICC seems to have solved this by moving to a bigger room with adjustable seating.
3. The "Supporter's Dinner" (because RICL only has ONE supporter, or because they don't know how to use apostrophes?) Offers of free food and t-shirts, reimbursement for transportation costs, or just plain old offers to pay someone to speak on your behalf will be interpreted as paid-for, biased testimony and ARE NOT FAIR OR ACCEPTABLE.
I wonder how embarrassing it would be if a spy attended the "supporter's dinner" and then turned right around and testified all about Clean Line's "secret" shenanigans to drum up paid speakers on its behalf afterwards? Just don't do it, Clean Line, and save yourself a whole lot of embarrassment, okay?
I do wonder why Clean Line cannot fairly rest upon the merits of its project, and finds it necessary to resort to tricks and deceitfulness in an attempt to hoodwink the ICC to approve of its project? Maybe RICL isn't such a good project after all. Think about it.
,I've come across another one of your conference agendas recently. After drying my tears of laughter, I shared it with my friends in "Mayberry." They are not impressed. In fact, you could call them downright miffed at your arrogant, condescending and inaccurate attempt to pretend you understand them, their communities, and their lifestyles. How dare you!
?!The cause of the current consternation is your 8th Annual Public Participation for Transmission Siting
conference. While this conference has historically been an annual source of amusement to transmission opposition leadership
, this time you've gone too far.Perhaps all that crisp, green sponsorship gets in the way of your better judgement, but should you take a few moments to reflect on the veracity of your conference speakers, as well as the accuracy and effectiveness of their presented material, you might find something amiss.Keynote speaker Jimmy Glotfelty's presentation is touted as:
Clean Line energy will discuss the public engagement challenges that are inherent when developing and building new large infrastructure projects. How do we overcome these challenges and work to ensure that our stakeholders feel they are informed and part of the process, each step of the way? He will discuss the lessons learned and some of the challenges faced in his career developing transmission projects across multiple states.
Jimmy Glotfelty? The same Jimmy Glotfelty with the orange shirts and bribe money? The same Jimmy Glotfelty who had to be told by the police to stop harassing high school students and offering them money to testify in favor of his project? That Jimmy Glotfelty?? We've heard of him.
Next, we'd like to discuss your burgeoning interest in social media. Just so you know, social media allows the public to express opinions that drive rejection or acceptance of an idea or proposal.
Case Studies: Understanding Ins-and-Outs of Utilizing Social Media for Public Engagement.
In a time where social media is one of the most common forms of communication, it is
important to understand when it is appropriate to utilize it to engage the public and stakeholders during the transmission siting process. It is crucial to understand when to use it as a main form of communication or as a supplementary form of communication - and who you can expect to reach, and how. This presentation will use and demonstrate
how social media is currently being used as an integral portion of a public outreach and
- Louisa Kinoshi, Associate, Clean Line Energy
Did you even bother to look at Clean Line Energy's Facebook real estate before agreeing to this presenter's version of social media mastery? Probably not, because Clean Line Energy no longer has any Facebook properties! Clean Line shut them down because real people kept getting in and posting their honest thoughts and opinions that Clean Line couldn't control. Clean Line also likely discovered that Facebook is just a little too transparent, exposing a lack of public support for its proposals. Keeping an army of sycophantic sock puppets active on numerous Facebook properties can be just so tedious. It seems to us that Clean Line itself has plenty to "understand" about social media, before it is qualified to teach others.
Let's address the elephant in the room now, shall we? It's the real reason for your educational conference and unhealthy fascination with us. It's what makes us rock stars. You are clueless about our formation, hierarchy, motivation and determination. Sun Tzu once said, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” He'd be a great speaker for your conference, if he wasn't dead and all. Maybe you can buy his book? I hear it's a real page-turner.
So, you want to develop our relationship with attempts to be clever using outdated, supercilious names constructed from your industry's weird obsession with acronyms? I'm truly hurt, EUCI. As if labeling us as members of unacceptable groups would somehow help you develop a better understanding of us, one that will allow you to "handle" us all the way to permit denial?
Going BANANAs with NIMBYs – Best Practices in Dealing with Community Based Opposition Groups.
Increasingly, organizing public participation opportunities means having to handle
disruptive influences from community-based opposition groups - BANANAs (Build
Absolutely Nothing Anywhere near Anything/Anyone) and NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard). This presentation will discuss experiences at Southern California Edison and
how the company has adapted to this new business environment. Southern California
Edison is currently experiencing one of the largest infrastructure capital investment
programs in company history. Driving this are multiple factors, including California’s
ambitious renewable energy goals and the need to replace aging infrastructure that
was constructed during the post-World War II boom. As a result, the opportunity for
community based opposition groups to develop has increased significantly. Recent
advances in technology have made it easier for community-based opposition groups to
organize and, more importantly, to strategize. With the opportunity cost of starting and
participating in such groups constantly decreasing, it is important for public participation practitioners to have a healthy understanding of how such groups are motivated and how to manage them effectively. The discussion will provide the audience with best practices on dealing with community based opposition groups as well as tips on how to prepare internal, technical subject matter experts to effectively handle emotionally charged situations. These best practices are based upon the experiences of Southern California Edison’s local public affairs department.
Do tell how assigning people to silly fruit acronym name groups, and then disparaging them, accomplishes effective public participation in transmission siting? Where we come from, that's just not polite, and won't win you any cooperation from the fruitbowl. It's actually sort of insulting. We don't really get it, but have been considering giving you all a fruity name of your own, and would like to know the rules of the game. We've already come up with MIMPSY (Money In My Pocket, Screw You) to describe you, but fear it might not be quite fruity enough?
As I'm sure you've heard, our favorite activity is holding bake sales. If you ever find yourself overrun with overripe bananas, I'd be happy to share my kick-ass recipe for banana bread
with you. There's just so many things you can make from the clever and versatile banana! Maybe you could hold your own bake sale, instead of a training conference, to raise cash! Do let us know EUCI. We'd be happy to fly to Houston to buy your cupcakes!
I do wonder though, since this is an educational workshop, what experience your instructor has organizing or strategizing with community-based opposition groups? My guess would be none. Last time I looked, SCE got it's butt kicked in Chino Hills
. The power companies are usually the ones on the outside of our groups, desperately trying to see inside. You all have NO IDEA
how sophisticated our organization and strategy has become... and that's the way we like it. Expect the unexpected, transmission developers!And if being called a fruit isn't insulting enough to "the public," you further besmirch us as "Mayberry" in your "Marketing to Mayberry" segment.
Marketing to Mayberry: Communicating with Rural America.
Communications and marketing outreach in small town America requires entirely
different tactics than those used with larger more metropolitan communities. Join this
conversation to learn some of the pitfalls to avoid and the strategies to deploy when
reaching out to small communities. Attendees will learn to prepare for the challenges of
engaging a rural setting, communicate in a conversational tone rather than corporate
tone, identify and engage credible spokespersons in rural communities and understand which communications and marketing tactics to utilize.
If this wasn't so blatantly insulting, it might be fun to sit through. What do you do, run the movie Promised Land and hand out Matt Damon masks? Or maybe you simply try to teach these jerks some honesty and humility? It's really not that difficult to communicate with "Mayberry." What is difficult is getting away with lies and bad behavior in small towns, right, Jimmy? Right, Clean Line?You've simply outdone yourself this year, EUCI! Since your conferences are fully accredited for continuing education credits by
the International Association for Continuing Education & Training
, we'll assume there must be some educational standards your conference content is required to meet. We're concerned that you may be risking your certification and credibility by promoting professional failure as a "successful" best practice! It's because we worry about your reputation that we'd like to help you out, EUCI. We believe we could provide valuable assistance with this conference activity:
Mock Open House
Open houses are commonly used during the public outreach campaign through the
transmission siting process. They are used to communicate with the community, land
owners, stake holders and public officials and allow them to express their concerns
regarding the transmission lines. Effective, clear and concise communications are crucial
for the open house to run smoothly and successful. This mock open house will allow
key subject experts to run an open house and the attendees to participate in the “open
house,” showing effective forms of communication, how to answer questions and walk away with everyone being pleased with the outcome.
We graciously offer to provide a cast of crack "actors" to play the parts of the community, land owners, stake holders and public officials at your mock open house. We've been mocking these guys at their open houses for years, so we're quite experienced! We feel this will add just the right touch of hard-to-replicate realism to the exercise and will guarantee a tangible, useful, hands-on education for your conference participants. And, besides, nothing says fun like ignorant country bumpkins bearing torches and pitchforks! They're just so unpredictable!
In all seriousness, EUCI, we're not sure how you're going to educate transmission developers to succeed when your teachers have failed the subjects they are attempting to teach. You'd do much better with instructors from the community groups you are targeting for attendance. But then again, why would we give away our secrets? They're working so well to alter, delay, and cancel unneeded transmission projects. We have made you our bit*subservient groupie*ch. When we have our annual continuing education get-togethers, you're probably not going to be invited. Sorry.
America's Transmission Opposition
Bigger, Badder, Scarier
and Smarter... oh, so much smarter than you give us credit for...
Looks like one of those "what doesn't belong" puzzles, doesn't it? Unfortunately, it's not.This story comes from Gentry, Arkansas, home to the Wild Wilderness Drive Through Safari. AEP's engineer drew a transmission line through a portion of the safari on his power line routing etch-a-sketch
. Perhaps the engineer didn't understand that a drive through safari means that there are wild animals roaming loose through the area? Or maybe he just doesn't care. After all, he's not the one who may be eaten by a lion while constructing this project.
The people of Gentry have taken up the fight to save or replace the portion of the safari that will be made useless by the new 345kV power line running through it. See their website here
.AEP says they can't move the power line out of the park because the route has already been approved by the PSC. Instead, they are dragging the safari owner (a former AEP employee who didn't initially object to the route for fear of retaliation) through expensive and contentious eminent domain proceedings that will exceed the cost to AEP of simply filing a revised route at the Arkansas Public Service Commission. It's pure and classic utility behemoth stupidity, where the tail regularly wags the dog
.Instead, AEP is trying to fix things through intimidation and censorship. Local media has been avoiding this story because they also fear retaliation from AEP. Hey... AEP... censor this... :-)In addition to efforts to effect a media blackout, AEP has been cyber stalking the community members leading the movement to save Safari 4. One of them recently found this notification when logging into her Linked In account.
There's no reason a "Manager of Public Relations and Communications" at AEP would be looking at this woman's profile, except for the fact that she started a petition to save the Safari. Why, AEP, WHY? Why are you cyber-creeping on this woman? Planning to use her professional information for future intimidation? Or is AEP's manager just some kind of random cyber-creep doing his dirty deeds on company time and with company equipment?Can't you just see the inter-office memo that may have gone out last week?To: All AEP Transmission Employees
From: Nick Akins, CEO
Subject: Cyber-stalking Opponents of Our Projects
It has come to my attention that some of you have been gathering information for our AEP transmission project opponent dossiers while signed in to your personal Linked In accounts that bear your job title and AEP's logo. Please be aware that your profile views show up on the opponents Linked In pages! In the future, please make up a fake Linked In profile to use for AEP-authorized cyber-stalking. I suggest using the name Neil Peart, drummer for the band Rush. He's way, way cool and I want to be just like him when I grow up!
Remember: Safety and Transparency First!
Embarrassed yet, AEP?
You should be. What do you think the jury hearing the safari eminent domain case next week is going to think of your heavy-handed tactics?