The Pittsburg Post-Gazette's "Power Source" energy news believes the Clean Power Plan will require "a tangled mess of hulking, long-range transmission lines."  Not true, and the report's "facts" are fallible.

The reporter seems to rely on energy platitudes, pasted together with quotes from people who should have been asked about the conclusions the reporter made.

Such as:
Opponents used some of those arguments to successfully derail the Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline, a 290-mile line from Putnam County, W.Va., to Frederick County, Md., proposed by Allegheny Energy in 2008. The Greensburg company, acquired by FirstEnergy in 2011, suspended the project after it could not convince regulators the line was necessary.
This guy calls up Steve Herling, but doesn't bother to ask him why PJM terminated the PATH project.  It's not that "opponents" proved there was no need in any state regulatory process.  It's that PJM first suspended, and later terminated the PATH project because
PJM staff reviewed results of analyses showing reliability drivers no longer exist for the project throughout the 15-year planning cycle. The analyses incorporated the continued trends of decreasing customer load growth, increasing participation in demand response programs and the recent commitment of new generating capacity in eastern PJM.
This reporter also seems to be under the impression that all transmission opposition comes from "citizens groups" who oppose transmission due to environmental reasons.
While citizen groups have fought transmission projects — often successfully — by attacking the developer’s need to build them, the environmental regulations could usher in more projects and complicate opposition.

Changing drivers of transmission
In the past, environmental groups have glommed onto transmission battles and used citizen group opposition to fuel the push on environmental grounds.  Those days are over.  This reporter seems to be the last to find out, but environmental groups are the newest and biggest fans of transmission lines.  Numerous environmental groups have intervened in favor of big, new transmission lines that the wrongly believe are "for wind."  Transmission lines are open access and it's not possible to segregate "clean" electrons from "dirty" ones.  The citizens are on their own here and that's just fine... nobody needs or wants a hypocritical environmental NGO championing eminent domain for "clean" transmission lines while simultaneously using the same issue as a reason not to build "dirty" pipelines.  Nobody takes these fools seriously anymore.  Without an army, the environmental groups are simply Don Quixote.  Tilting at their beloved windmill fantasy, but getting nothing accomplished.

It's still about need though.  And the transmission poster child the reporter chose to use is not part of any regional transmission plan and therefore has not been designated "needed."
Transmission companies see big potential for new projects, particularly from sparsely populated areas that generate wind energy to urban areas. “Just as trains carried cattle and other goods from the rural areas to urban centers, the Plains & Eastern Clean Line will carry renewable energy from the Plains of the Southwest,” states the website of one developer, Clean Line Energy of Houston, Texas.

Clean Line expects federal approval for its 700-mile Plains & Eastern Clean Line, designed to carry 4,000 megawatts of power from wind farms in the panhandle of Oklahoma. The line will terminate near Memphis, Tenn. Clean Line has four other projects in the pipeline.

“We anticipate a very busy 2016,” said company president Michael Skelly. 
And that's why Clean Line is attempting to use an untested part of the 2005 Energy Policy Act to usurp the siting and permitting authority of states and ram its project through using the federal eminent domain authority of federal power marketers.  Except that statute requires a need for the transmission in the first place.  And there is none.  Clean Line elected not to participate in the regional transmission planning processes that determine need for transmission projects.  Clean Line is nothing but a gamble -- the investors are gambling that a need for the project will develop if they can build it... but Clean Line hasn't been successful in signing up any potential customers... because they can't get their project built... because there is no need for it.  That's the real chicken/egg the reporter should be examining.

I do hope Mr. Skelly is very busy in 2016... polishing up his resume and looking for new investors for his next get rich quick scheme.

The reporter longs for
...some wind mills and solar farms in areas with constant breeze and abundant sunshine
But he's looking in the wrong place.  Even though he had a conversation with Scott Hempling about non-transmission alternatives, none of that seemed to sink in.

There's an area with "a constant breeze" located much closer to Pittsburgh than the Great Plains.  It's called the Atlantic Ocean, where wind potential is much greater.  Best of all, very little "
tangled mess of hulking, long-range transmission lines" would be "necessary to bring that renewable power from the point of generation to utilities for local distribution."

Why can't eastern states boost their own economies by harvesting renewables close to load?  The days of centralized generation are over.  Also, sunshine is abundant anywhere -- no transmission lines needed to slap some solar panels on your own roof.

This reporter needs some education.

1.  Transmission opposition by "citizens groups" won't change because of the Clean Power Plan.

2.  Speculative transmission projects for which there is no need shall not be granted state eminent domain authority to take property for rights of way.

3.  Clean Line is a merchant transmission project, not part of any transmission plan and completely unlike most other transmission projects.  Therefore, it should not be lumped in with them or used as an example of anything transmission-related.  If the CPP requires transmission, it will be planned and ordered by regional transmission organizations so that there is some surety that it will actually be built.  Clean Line is not needed, may never be built, and is driven by anticipated profits selling energy into more expensive markets, not by the Clean Power Plan.

And stop drinking the big wind koolaid.  There are no facts in it.
 
 
What did you do over the holidays?  If you spent time with friends and family, unplugged from business and transmission line nonsense, congratulations!  If you're Clean Line, though, you spent your holidays pumping out the most unbelievable crap in the media.  Not that it really mattered though -- nobody was paying attention because we couldn't be bothered to do more than laugh at Clean Line in private venues.

However, the holidays are now over.  It's time to take a look at the silly things Clean Line wasted their holiday time doing.

First, let's address the article claiming that the Hannibal (Missouri) Bureau of Public Works is considering "buying power through Grain Belt Express."  I'm sorry, but Clean Line is not selling power.  Clean Line is selling capacity on its proposed transmission line.  That's all Clean Line can sell.  It is not a power generator and will never own any wind farms.  The power generated by any future wind farms will be sold by the wind farms.  The wind farms have yet to be built (or even planned with any conviction).  What is Clean Line doing going around "selling power" at a certain price from generators that don't exist and that they will never own?  It's a fairy tale that Clean Line is selling.
General Manager Bob Stevenson said Clean Line contacted the BPW about a month ago, offering the utility a draft letter of intent. Clean Line hasn't made a firm proposal, but Stevenson called prospective prices "very attractive." He declined to disclose them, citing confidentiality, but Lawlor estimated Grain Belt Express could deliver electricity in the 3- to 4-kilowatt-hour range.
If Stevenson thinks Clean Line's offer is anything more than fiction, I've got a bridge I'd like to sell him.
But, all that aside, the ultimate goal of getting utilities like the Hannibal BPW to sign a "letter of intent" is to prove to the MO PSC that there is customer interest in Missouri to be used in another possible run at a MO PSC permit.  The PSC isn't going to be fooled by this nonsense.  They also know that Clean Line can only sell capacity on its line, not energy.  If Hannibal BPW wants to sign up for some capacity on a fictional transmission line, that doesn't keep the lights on.  It also doesn't set a price for purchase of future energy from fictional third party generators that may be built.  How about if I offer you tomatoes grown by a farm that doesn't exist at a great price?  Of course, my offer will include a whole bunch of legal gibberish that absolves me of actually producing the tomatoes at the price named in the contract.  What's a contract like that worth?  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  And that's what this article does because it's not going to convince the MO PSC to grant approval to Clean Line, and that's all that matters in this game right now.

Next, Mark Lawlor attempts to convince Illinoisans that his "Green Belt Express" project will provide jobs and lower rates, therefore they should continue their chummy relationship with Mark and continue to invite him to their backyard barbecues and cocktail parties.  Fail.

Beth Conley also interrupted her holidays to "respond" to Iowa legislators, who condemned her project in a hugely popular "Open letter to Rock Island Clean Line from lawmakers" that ran all over the state just before the holidays.

Except Beth didn't actually "respond" to anything in the open letter, but pulled up her soap box to go off on her predictable tangent about wind energy being an Iowa product that needs to be exported like beans and hogs.  Yawn.  Everyone's heard this before and nobody is convinced.  She also claims, "Clean Line has been working in Iowa for over five years and has invested millions of dollars in the Iowa economy developing the Rock Island Clean Line..."  What?  Where?  The only "investment" in the Iowa economy that Clean Line has made to date is the funding of its law firm to make redundant runs at the IUB to bifurcate the process (now on third attempt).  Do Clean Line's lawyers filter their "millions" down into Iowa's economy in a way that makes a difference?  Maybe they're funding Beth's political aspirations to run for a seat in the Iowa legislature?  Puh-leeze!
Starting Line now hears about a number of people interested in running for Rick Olson’s house seat. That includes Beth Conley, Marc Wallace and Connie Boesen. Conley works at Clean Line Energy Partners, and has a history of working with wind energy projects.
Beth also claims, "With so many power plants retiring, it is essential to maintain our nation’s electric power supply. The energy is needed and the Rock Island Clean Line project is too important for Iowa and the nation not to pursue."  But, as usual, she provides no facts.  Where are these power plants retiring?  How would RICL fill the void?  This claim is nothing but crap.  The "need" for electric transmission is managed by regional grid operators, who monitor retiring plants and order transmission to fill any void.  No regional grid has ordered RICL to fill any need.  There is no reliability need for RICL and it has no customers.

Beth prattles on about Clean Line's "market leading compensation package."  What market?  There is no eminent domain condemnation "market."  Eminent domain avoids any free market principles by taking land from its owners instead of negotiating a price both parties agree upon.  The proof is in the pudding, Clean Line's compensation package has attracted only 11% of the landowners crossed.  It must not be such a good deal after all.  Duh, Beth.

She tries to sell bifurcation as "without any cost to Iowa ratepayers."  However, bifurcation is also without cost to Clean Line's investors.  Although Clean Line pledged to accept ALL RISK of its merchant project to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and Clean Line was well aware of Iowa's regulatory process before planning its project through the state, Clean Line now wants to change the process because the current procedure requires the company to invest in a whole bunch of paperwork before being guaranteed a permit.  All risk means all risk, including any presented by an existing regulatory process.

Lastly, Beth shares that her family's holiday activities included driving by substations and discussing how "neighborly" it is to be a doormat.  Someone needs an Elf on her Shelf, I'm thinking.

Next, Clean Line engineered an AP story about wind energy transmission by supplying a "pro" landowner, who recruited his "con" neighbor to act as the opposition (although there is organized opposition with experienced spokespeople).  Clean Line trots Wilcox out for the press whenever it needs to pretend that landowners support its project.  He's got a lot of miles on him
At any rate, Clean Line's effort failed when the reporter's rather unenlightened review of energy policy concluded, "I think (wind energy) is fine," he said. But "it doesn't make sense to me to have to transport it halfway across the United States. We're smarter than that."

And, finally, there was another episode of the Loren Flaugh show published in the Cherokee Chronicle Times.
  This "freelance reporter" continually inserts his opinion into the "stories" he writes in order to libel Clean Line's opposition.  In this version, he accuses Preservation of Rural Iowa Alliance's Carolyn Sheridan of "reveal[ing] an apparent lack of understanding for how eminent domain works."  Nothing could be farther from the truth, and it appears that Flaugh is the one who doesn't understand exactly what an easement means, in legal terms.  The editor of this paper owes Sheridan (and PRIA member Jerry Crews, who got libeled in a similar fashion in Flaugh's last story) a retraction and an apology.  Real "news" doesn't attempt to inexpertly analyze facts to come to conclusions that someone doesn't know what they're talking about.  It simply reports the facts.  Analysis and conclusion are the domain of opinion pieces, where Flaugh's fluff rightly belongs.  At any rate, I'm eagerly looking forward to Part II of Flaugh's "reporting," where he claims he will "examine the legal reasoning for filing the petition [to bifurcate the IUB process by Clean Line]."  It's like the expectation to be entertained I have when I buy tickets to a comedy show.  A promised giggle fest, and we all know laughter is the best medicine.

And on that note, thanks for the holiday entertainment, Clean Line!  We were privately laughing at you while we were spending the holidays with our family and friends.


 
 
Looks like Dominion has finally reached the bottom of the barrel in its desperate attempts to get approval for construction of a 500kV transmission line across the James River at Jamestown.

An article in the Virginia Gazette says that Dominion is now offering $85M in "mitigation" to groups opposing its project.  The $85M includes:
The mitigation proposal includes more than $52 million in funding for Jamestown Island, Hog Island and the Captain John Smith Historic Trail District. The money would fund projects such as seawall rehabilitation and replacement at Historic Jamestowne to help combat the impacts of sea-level rise and erosion, according to the draft mitigation plan obtained by the Virginia Gazette.

The mitigation plan proposal includes $15.5 million in funding for water quality improvement including erosion and sediment control in the James River. Battlefield and landscape conservation projects would get $12 million, including government and private lands associated with the Battle of Yorktown, according to the proposal. More than $4 million would go to protecting emergent marsh at the Hog Island Wildlife Management Area.
But here's the thing... the $85M in blood money would be paid for by electric ratepayers in PJM Interconnection's 13-state region, not by Dominion.  That's right, Dominion's "generous" offer would become part of the capital costs of its Skiffes Creek project, which will be reimbursed to the company through federal transmission rates over the 40-year life of the transmission line, plus interest.  Paying off the capital cost of a new transmission line works much like a mortgage, where a small amount of principal is paid each year, in addition to interest on the remaining balance.  Dominion's "interest rate," called return on equity, is currently set at 11.4%, annually. 

What Dominion is offering is that YOU will pay to "mitigate" the destruction of YOUR historic resource.  And Dominion will make a profit on the deal.

And, really, would $85M of unrelated improvements to the Jamestown historic area make the new transmission towers in the James River disappear?  No.  No matter how much of your money Dominion throws at it, the transmission line will still forever spoil historic Jamestown.  At the end of the day there will still be a transmission line in the river.  The $85M isn't "free" money coming out of Dominion's coffers, it's money that will be added to your electric bill for the next 40 years.  Aren't there better ways to pay for improvements to Jamestown than through a backdoor fee on your electric bill that also includes a hefty profit for Dominion?

Dominion's price for the transmission line is $155M, before "mitigation."  With mitigation of $85M, the new total for the project's capital costs is $240M, a substantial cost increase.  Don't you think Dominion could put that $85M to work finding a better solution to its plan, such as undergrounding the transmission line? 

And here's the best part... if Dominion is denied a permit to build its current project, then PJM must go back to the drawing board to find another solution to the supposed reliability issue.  Any new solution must now be competitively bid, not just handed to Dominion to build, as the original project was many years ago.  Competition is always a good thing, and will most likely result in a better, cheaper, "constructable" solution. 

Just say no to Dominion's ratepayer-funded blood money and send this project back to PJM's drawing board.
 
 
So, Clean Line's Mark Lawlor needs to clean up his sloppy and gratuitous use of the Queen's English.

He's much too fond of the number one word on Lake Superior State University's 41st Annual List of Banished Words.  Anyone whose answer to any question posed (even those posed by invisible reporters whose cut video plays more like a monologue) begins with the word "so" is most likely thinking, "knowing that my intelligence and intellect is so superior to all those in attendance today, I will try to disseminate this knowledge to you in the most basic terms that even the most lowly, knuckle-dragging, caveman cretin and red-necked, hillbilly rube will be able to understand."  Is that what you were going for there, Mark?

I fear if you don't clean up your language, your conversations with stakeholders are going to become increasingly problematic.  Stakeholders do have their price point, and your leading each sentence with the word "so" isn't the secret sauce to success.  It makes folks downright suspicious.  Perhaps that's how you speak during big city pressers, while manspreading and vaping away on your e-cig, but that kind of physicality does not give life to any Mayberry stakeholders.  That kind of physicality makes it appear that you're deviously walking it back, and it is bound to break your transmission project, as well as the internet.

Stop it.

And please do tell your boss to stop inserting the word "okay" into his juicy sentences as a desperate plea for the acknowledgement and approval of anyone within hearing range.  Mayberry doesn't speak that language.

Thanks to Rocky Squirrel for assisting all of us in speaking properly by bringing the foregoing to my attention.  When he's not correcting Clean Line's grammar, he's busy growing food to stuff in their pieholes, with the hope of finally enjoying a moment of blessed silence.
 
 
A Virginia blogger visited PJM Interconnection to find out who they are and what they do, and then wrote about it.  That's great investigative journalism because only a handful of the 61 million electric consumers served by PJM even know it exists.  However, I do wish the blogger had a bit more curiosity to scratch underneath the surface of some of PJM's propaganda.

Amid a factual account of how PJM operates, I found this thoughtless propaganda blurb:
Electricity on the PJM grid normally flows from west to east. The major centers for electricity demand are the big metropolises along the Eastern Seaboard, at the eastern edge of the PJM system. There aren’t any power plants located in the Atlantic Ocean, therefore power that isn’t generated locally has to come from the west. As it happens, PJM’s western states have abundant, low-cost wind power — at night-time, wind power is so plentiful compared to demand that the price essentially falls to zero. The main factor limiting East Coast access to that cheap wind is the limited capacity of the transmission grid to carry it.
There aren't any power plants located in the Atlantic Ocean, but it's not due to lack of a "low-cost" source of energy.  Offshore wind is a better source of energy than land-based wind.
In the United States, 53% of the nation’s population lives in coastal areas, where energy costs and demands are high and land-based renewable energy resources are often limited. Abundant offshore wind resources have the potential to supply immense quantities of renewable energy to major U.S. coastal cities, such as New York City and Boston.  

Offshore winds tend to blow harder and more uniformly than on land.
Why would PJM, a member organization of power producers and distributors, downplay the viability of offshore wind, if it is truly "agnostic about the desirability of renewable energy?"  Is it because PJM has an interest in building more transmission to expand its empire, or simply an interest in protecting the interests of its members?  Or did this propaganda form in the mind of the blogger?

In Virginia, Dominion Power controls offshore wind energy development.  And some believe Dominion is dragging its feet.  Why would they do that?  Dominion says its because the cost of offshore wind development is too high, but I think it's a simple matter of milking old technology for the most profits before embracing new ideas.

While Dominion whines that building two test turbines off the coast of Virginia Beach will be too costly at a price of up to $400M, another company is proposing to build new transmission to bring Midwest wind energy to coastal cities at a cost of $8.5B.  Yup, that's billion. 

Something doesn't make sense here.  Let's crack this nut. 

Energy flows from west to east in PJM based on history.  Over the past 100 years, Ohio Valley coal producers have been only too eager to plunder Appalachian states for their natural resources for benefit of those eastern metropolises.  The coal was mined and burned in the Ohio Valley, while the electricity produced was shipped east via gigantic transmission lines.  It worked because powerful interests in the Ohio Valley were happy to destroy local environments in exchange for the economic benefits of serving as an "energy exporter."  The eastern cities got the benefit of "cheap" Appalachian energy, without having any of the pollution or environmental destruction in their own backyard.  And they liked it.  And they got used to it.  And they expect it.  But, the times... they are a'changing.


Coal is no longer king.  Eastern cities are clamoring for "renewable" energy.  And while entrenched interests like Dominion cling to dirty energy sources in order to milk every last dime from them, other powerful interests have set their sights on the Midwest as a new source of energy exports.  There's money to be made hyping America's breadbasket as "the Saudi Arabia of wind" and building billions of dollars worth of new infrastructure to continue the status quo of west to east power flows.

But, unlike the Appalachia of 100 years ago, Midwestern landowners are having none of the sacrifice that goes along with being energy exporters.  While a handful may be content to voluntarily lease land for wind turbines and collect royalties
, the vast majority will not gladly sacrifice their homes and businesses to host gigantic new "energy highways" to ship electricity thousands of miles to eastern states like Virginia.  These businessmen and women realize there's nothing in it for them, as "market value" payments for easements through their food factories do not adequately compensate for loss of production.  Adding insult to injury, while land leases for wind farms are voluntary (and subject to free market negotiation), easement purchases for transmission lines are proposed to be involuntarily accomplished through eminent domain.  Landowners are faced with voluntarily jumping off a cliff before they are pushed over the edge.  This isn't a choice, and "market value" has little meaning when there is no choice.  There is no "market" for involuntary land sales.

You simply cannot continue the west to east energy flow status quo, Virginia!  It won't end up being "cheap" plowing through thousands of miles of productive farm land with new infrastructure in order to bring you "cheap" wind energy.  The days of rural America to your west gladly sacrificing for your needs are over.  If you want clean energy, make it yourself.   Stop telling yourself that Midwest wind energy is your next Appalachia.  It's just as expensive and it requires sacrifice from people who receive no benefit.

Instead, why not encourage Dominion (and their transmission minion, PJM) to develop the wind energy resources in your own neighborhood?  The extensive transmission system
required to transmit offshore wind energy to eastern cities is already in place, saving billions of dollars worth of new infrastructure.  As well, a plan for an offshore transmission backbone to collect offshore wind energy and transmit it to shore at several crucial points has been in the works for years.

Stop drinking the industry koolaid that convinces you that you're helpless, Virginia.  Create your own vibrant energy future
in your own backyard!
 
 
Those bragging Christmas letters we receive from friends and relatives, tucked neatly inside a glittery, mass-produced holiday card -- you know you love to hate them.  It's like being gifted with an assortment of badly-written attempts at the great American novel, sometimes screamingly funny, and sometimes amazingly sad.  But rarely an accurate picture of the author's year in review.  As this article demonstrates, the reality behind even the most cheery Christmas letter can only be discerned by reading between the lines.  And it's in that spirit that I shall now read between the lines of Clean Line's bragging Christmas letter to its supporters (or people they think support them anyhow).  Yes, this is a real letter that Clean Line sent to real people, and it leaves out a whole bunch of real facts.

In its rush to gloss over its colossal failures of 2015, Clean Line creates what reads like an alternate universe.  You may hardly recognize it.  But, I assure you that the quotes in red are straight out of Clean Line's holiday letter.  The green quotes are my attempt to crack the door and let a little reality in by including the parts of the story that Clean Line carefully omitted.  Does Clean Line really think the recipients were fooled?


Clean Line Energy has had a busy year, making progress on all of our projects. We are writing today to provide you with a brief update about our efforts to modernize the electric grid and bring more clean energy to communities.
Progress?  Does this mean you're actually permitted to build at least one of them?  No?  Of course not, there's been no real progress. 

You're not "modernizing the grid."  You're proposing to build a completely separate "grid" using 100-year old technology to transport energy from centralized generators to remote users.  A really modern grid isn't a grid at all, but many small microgrids that can either interconnect to share resources, or island themselves off during emergencies or grid outages.  You're not building that, Clean Line.

There aren't any "communities" that are asking you to bring them "more clean energy."  In order to bring "more" of something, you'd have to actually be supplying that commodity in the first place.  Clean Line still doesn't have any customers in any "communities."
First, we’ve been advancing the Rock Island Clean Line through interconnection studies, surveys, commercial development, and other work.  Additionally, we are pleased to share that we are moving through the regulatory process at the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB). On November 30th, we filed a motion to set a procedural schedule that will move the Rock Island Clean Line forward in Iowa in a timely manner, and will allow for a decision from the IUB as early as the end of 2016. We look forward to adding wind energy to the list of Iowa’s top exports.
Advancing?  That would indicate some sort of forward progress, however RICL has been stalled for the entire year in Iowa.  Clean Line is NOT "moving through the regulatory process at the IUB."  Filing a motion proposing a procedural schedule that allows bifurcation of the hearing process, when RICL's prior requests for bifurcation have been turned down, twice, is nothing but wishful thinking.  What was it ComEd's witness said about you, Clean Line? 

“Listing the number of transmission projects that have successfully achieved financing….is tantamount to my listing the members of the violin section of the Chicago Symphony  Orchestra as evidence that I will certainly become a member of the violin section of the orchestra if I follow the same regimen that they did. “ ComED/Lapson, p. 12

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

Clean Line's "procedural schedule" won't be "moving" anywhere unless the IUB approves it, and that doesn't look very likely.

By the way, how are you going to add wind to the list of Iowa exports, Clean Line, when much of the wind developed for your project is actually located in South Dakota, Minnesota or Nebraska?
Clean Line’s other projects are making great strides, as well.

The Grain Belt Express Clean Line (will deliver wind energy from Kansas into Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and other states), has received regulatory approvals in three of the four project states, with  approval in Illinois last month.

Err... you forgot to mention that Grain Belt Express was DENIED by the Missouri PSC in July.  It doesn't mater how many other states "approve" GBE, unless you're planning to bypass Missouri entirely.  Without approval of the Missouri PSC, Grain Belt Express isn't happening.

You also forgot to mention that numerous requests for rehearing were filed in Illinois, including one from you, Clean Line.  Did the ICC issue you a worthless CPCN full of mistakes, Clean Line?  Awwwww.....


Go ahead, tell your supporters about how unlikely it is that GBE will ever be built at this point, Clean Line.  The truth shall set you free!

And, the Plains & Eastern Clean Line (will deliver Oklahoma wind energy into Arkansas, Tennessee, and other states) received its Final Environmental Impact Statement from the Department of Energy in November, bringing the project one step closer to construction.
Except the final EIS doesn't actually do anything without the DOE's approval to "participate" in your project under Sec. 1222 of the Energy Policy Act, Clean Line.  So, it's not like you really "stepped" anywhere.  And now you've managed to go and tick off Congress, who holds DOE's purse strings.  Probably not a good idea, Clean Line.
As you know, building multi-state, interregional transmission lines is a lengthy process that will bring long-term benefits.  The Rock Island Clean Line will enable $7 billion of new wind energy development that will power about 1.4 million homes with low-cost clean energy each year. We appreciate your continued support as we move through the permitting process.

Best,
Hans, Beth, Amy, Colleen and the Clean Line Energy Team
It sure is a "lengthy process."  In fact, you've been at it for 6 years now, haven't you, Clean Line?  And you're no closer to building any of your proposed lines than you were on the first day.  Don't you think that maybe, just maybe, you should have concentrated on building just ONE of your proposals, to see if you could get it off the ground?  Instead you've been shooting into the dark, hoping you'll eventually get lucky and hit something.  Probably not a good strategy.  Just sayin'.

Ya know what?  Wind and transmission is going to go right on being built without you, Clean Line, because you're really not necessary.  Or special.  Seems like you've made yourself obsolete by biting off more than you could chew and spreading your resources too thin over the past several years.  Arrogance is a sweet, sweet liar, but a liar just the same.

Quit pretending and wasting your investors' money, Clean Line.  Playing transmission company and terrorizing thousands of Midwesterners may have been fun for you over the past several years, but it's time to end this farce.  Stop.  Go away.  Go find another get rich quick scheme.  This one's timed out.
And just in case "Hans, Beth, Amy, Colleen and the Clean Line Energy Team" wonder if the recipients of their bragging Christmas letter are poking fun at them behind their backs.... how do you think the letter ended up at StopPATH WV Blog?  (Colleen?  Who is Colleen?  Is that some new minimum wage intern?  Run, Colleen, run!)

And because Clean Line's letter moved me so deeply that it has caused my heart to grow three sizes today, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all the Grinches at Clean Line a similar epiphany.  Love of home doesn't come from a store, love of your home means just a little bit more...
 
 
The Preservation of Rural Iowa Alliance filed its resistance to Rock Island Clean Line's third attempt to bifurcate the IUB hearing process last week.  The people of Iowa have been resisting all of Clean Line's attempts to pull the wool over their eyes during the past several years.  Don't you think it's about time these concrete cowboys learn that you've got to get up pretty early to fool a farmer?

Remember when Clean Line pretended it wasn't behind an "independent" coalition of "activists, vendors and industry leaders" to serve as a “go-between” to bridge some of the disagreements between land owners and the Clean Line developers, and called its scheme "Windward Iowa?"

Nobody believed it.

Recently, a series of
public interest programs presented by the Butler County (Iowa) Democratic Party concluded with a panel discussion about the Rock Island Clean Line.
The panelists included the President of Windward Iowa, Craig Lang, who supports wind power and the building of new electrical infrastructure to carry it; Ted Junker of the Preservation of Rural Iowa Alliance, who is opposed to the transmission line and the use of eminent domain to build it; and Nathaniel Baer from the Iowa Environmental Council.

During the discussion, an audience member asked Lang where he got his funding for the Windward Iowa organization.  Mr. Lang said that the majority of the funding came from Rock Island Clean Line, with only a few small donations coming from other sources.  Mr. Lang further shared that funding for Windward Iowa has pretty much dried up now.

So, wait a tick, does this mean that Windward Iowa is nothing but a front for Clean Line? 

Was the Center for Rural Affairs in on the scheme when it wrote:
Craig Lang of the Windward Iowa has written in support of the project, citing the benefits to wind energy development in the state. An Iowa coalition that supports increased wind energy development in the state. The group--Windward Iowa--also supports increased transmission development as an essential part of new renewable development.
Or was CFRA the only one who believed this coalition was real? 

And what exactly did RICL-funded Mr. Lang mean when he said:
As an Iowa resident who understands the importance of agriculture in our communities, I appreciate Clean Line Energy for taking every possible step to ensure that the planned transmission line route has a minimal impact on farmland and homes.
or how about
As a farmer and an Iowan, I think it is reasonable to ask a small group of individuals to give back in order to benefit our whole state and the nation
I wonder... did he simply appreciate the reasonable money he was paid by Clean Line to support their project as president of Windward Iowa, or should he give it back to benefit the nation?

And speaking of Windward Iowa, where the Clean Line funding has dried up...

Who's paying the bill to keep its website online?

And who's being paid to manipulate the puppet strings on Windward Iowa's Facebook page?

Who would be paid to answer the phone if you called Windward Iowa at 515-802-6986?

And who's paying The Prairie Strategy Group for their recent projects?

And who continues to pee on Iowa's leg and tell them it's raining?

Stop it, Clean Line.  You're just embarrassing yourself at this point.  Like I said, you've got to get up pretty early in the morning to fool a farmer (especially with a fake coalition led by another farmer being funded by a corporation for his support).
 
 
There they go again.  It's almost time for the 10th Annual (yes, a whole decade of participatory goodness!) Best Practices in Public Participation for Transmission Projects Conference.  Unfortunately, there's no thrilling website contest this year.  That idea seemed to die on the vine after the inaugural year when EUCI's hand-picked website judges selected Clean Line's Rock Island transmission project as the most engaging, creative and useful website for sharing project information with the public.  And how prescient -- the RICL project is still bumping along trying to get approved, after being rejected by 85% of the affected landowners in Iowa.  Just imagine where they'd be without that great website!!

Anyhow, EUCI recommends attendance at this conference for "community group representatives."  Because transmission opposition groups need to learn how to be best participated with, so they can fall for the strategies and methods transmission developers use to positively engage community group stakeholders and overcome project obstacles, such as community group stakeholders. You will leave this conference with practical tools and techniques that can be immediately implemented within your own organization to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the transmission developer's public participation program, and, you know, fall for their crap and start supporting the transmission project that's going to ruin your property.  What's not to like?  It will only cost you $1,595 plus travel, lodging and expenses in Phoenix for a couple days.  So, get those banana muffins in the oven and get busy raising your registration fees today with a bake sale down at the community center!

And what's on the echo chamber agenda this year? 

Crafting a Comprehensive Stakeholder Communications Plan for Your Transmission Project, presented by Pepco, the company whose merger with Exelon was rejected by the DC Public Service Commission this year.  Maybe they should have spent more time crafting a comprehensive regulatory communications plan for their merger?  But I'm sure their transmission project communications plans are spot on!

Or how about Public Outreach in the Pre-Permitting Stage of a Transmission Project, presented by Holland & Hart?  Here you can find out how to anticipate political objections and make sure your purchase of a permit can withstand appeals.

And then there's Case Study: Conducting Public Outreach on a Unique 500 kV Underground Transmission Project by So. Cal. Edison.  I'm guessing this will be a really short one, since underground transmission projects are usually supported by the public without a bunch of political glad-handing, front groups, or advocacy purchases.

And here we go again with the cutsie-poo topic names that have previously gotten EUCI in trouble with Mayberry --  It's Geek to Me: Using Visual Design to Break Down the Technical Language Barrier.  In other words, Mayberry is stupid and can't handle more than three words and a picture.  Although, I do usually advise community groups to use the same tactics to design their messaging materials.  But then again, the public doesn't expect community groups to present their material in any kind of professional fashion that gives off an aura of technical authority.

And don't miss this!  Case study -  CapX2020 Projects:  Public Outreach Lessons Learned Along the Way.  Xcel Energy is going to tell you how they built a whole bunch of new transmission by creating a non-controversial permitting process. 
CapX2020 is a joint initiative of 11 transmission owning utilities in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin to upgrade and expand the electric transmission grid to ensure continued reliable and affordable service. The five 230 and 345 kV projects provide needed transmission capacity to support new generation outlet, including renewable energy. CapX2020 includes electric cooperatives, municipals and investor-owned utilities. The CapX2020 lines are projected to cost more than $2 billion and cover nearly 800 miles. When discussions and planning activities started in 2004, the institutional environment for planning for large scale transmission expansion was not mature and major issues such as cost allocation and recovery were unresolved. The diverse coalition of CapX2020 utilities, environmental groups, renewable energy developers, regulators and others was able to agree on regulatory reforms that addressed many of the issues at the state level. Meanwhile, MISO, through stakeholder processes was able to address issues related to cost allocation and recovery. Extensive public engagement activities were effective in building support for the projects and allowed for a timely and relatively non-controversial permitting process.  It was during construction that some of the most difficult challenges were encountered. In this session, you will hear some of the details of how these issues were successfully addressed as the projects near completion on schedule and on budget.
It's like they had absolutely
no
opposition
at
all!

Amazing!  Maybe next they can re-write some history books to erase awful things like Hitler and Osama Bin Laden, too?  I'm looking forward to Xcel making this world a better place through revisionist history!

But, wait, there's so much more!  Hear ATC explain how it "manages" public fear of EMF and stray voltage issues, even though it's a public perception issue that cannot be alleviated through additional industry studies.  And Tampa Electric Co. will tell you how to "successfully address project opposition."  I wonder if that includes begging?  On their knees?

Arizona Public Service advises how to make those pesky round opposition pegs fit into square utility holes:
In the business of siting electric utility infrastructure, opposition is the norm rather than the exception. While customers typically love an electric utility's product, they almost universally loathe the infrastructure necessary to deliver that product. In this session, we will discuss how to:

Acknowledge a customer's concern

Discern when a customer's concern cannot be resolved

Steer an opponent toward providing constructive input

Be credible

Become unflappable
...because angry opponents are so easily "steered" by utilities.  Does that require the use of a bee smoker or a stun gun?

Well, one thing's for certain.  It's warm in Phoenix in January.  I hope all the utility yahoos have fun in the sun because they're unlikely to learn anything useful.
 
 
Have you been paying attention to FirstEnergy's backroom deal charlie foxtrot in Ohio? 

The company has proposed to regulators that Ohioans be forced to buy all the power produced at its unregulated ("competitive") Davis-Besse nuclear and Sammis coal-fired power plants at a fixed price that guarantees FirstEnergy a profit, and then sell the power into the PJM electric market.  The impetus here is that power prices in the PJM market have been low.  Competition was working to save ratepayers money!  However, competition wasn't making FirstEnergy enough money, so FirstEnergy has been busy stashing its competitive generators into state regulated environments where the company could be guaranteed a certain profit.  Have no doubt that once power prices recover and FirstEnergy has a chance to make more money competing to serve customers, that it will find a way to once again deregulate these power plants and keep the profits.

In addition to the current Ohio fiasco, FirstEnergy's competitive arm successfully "sold" its Harrison power station to regulated  West Virginia customers several years ago at a huge profit.  The ratepayers will hold the losses from the cost of operating this plant until such time as it once again starts generating a profit.  Then FirstEnergy will probably propose to sell it back to itself at another huge profit.  Although the West Virginia plan was hotly contested, all the opponents (except for the West Virginia Citizens Action Group) folded at settlement, content to accept cheap gifts in exchange for their support of the sale.

Not so in Ohio.  The opponents are sticking to their guns and have rejected a backroom settlement deal crafted between FirstEnergy and the staff of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.  Not that FirstEnergy cares... it's content to reach a settlement with a few parties who appreciate their cheap parting gifts.  Whatever it takes to secure FirstEnergy's profits in a noncompetitive environment.

When will this nonsense end?  Along with a plethora of stories about the deal (here and here, for example) came another story about FirstEnergy's stock price going up... directly tied to the backroom settlement:
The purchase power agreement (PPA) [with Public Utilities Commission of Ohio] was the last missing piece: balance sheet shored up; equity overhang removed — we see no more surprises for investors.
So, it's more important to protect investors with continued stock dividends than it is to protect the customers who need a public service? 
"FirstEnergy’s proposal will put safeguards in place to protect our customers from increased price volatility that’s expected to occur in the years ahead," said Doug Colafella, a company spokesman.
Oh, really?  I suppose the stock price increase and urge to buy FirstEnergy is just unrelated serendipity?  What a shyster!

FirstEnergy's plan is to remove any threat of competition to its generating plants, ensuring they can thrive in a lower-priced market by using captive ratepayers to provide market power through subsidies.
... other utilities will want profit guarantees in Ohio and in neighboring states. This, in turn, will undermine a competitive market in which many companies do not have the resources to secure government help the way that FirstEnergy does.

Independent power companies competing against FirstEnergy for customers in Ohio and throughout the 13-state region where high-voltage transmission lines are controlled by PJM Interconnection are not asking for special deals like FirstEnergy is, said Glen Thomas, president of PJM Power Providers Group.

"Our members are competing to provide the most efficient and economic power to consumers in Ohio as possible. We oppose this deal.  We see it as destroying all the benefits Ohio has gained from competitive markets.

"By going down a road where you subsidize plants that are not able to compete economically with other plants, you crowd out these economic advantages as well as send a terrible signal to the market that the best way ... is not to operate at most efficient levels but to seek a bail out from the PUCO."
But, wait a sec... I thought PJM's power markets were "competitive."  Market Monitor Finds PJM Wholesale Electricity Markets Competitive.  Is the Market Monitor paying any attention to what's going on with FirstEnergy's noncompetitive stashing of its competitive generators into regulated environments in order to gain advantage over competing generators?  Or is it too busy trying to claw back payments its stupidly designed markets made to some trader foxes, while ignoring the noncompetitive behavior of certain chickens in its market hen house?

This whole debacle is a lesson in the stupidity of allowing for-profit companies to provide a necessary public service in a monopoly market.  Because investor profit that powers big salaries and sweet perks for utility executives will ALWAYS outweigh any obligation to customers.  And big utility profits fuel backroom deals like the one proposed in Ohio.

I hope the Ohio opponents, such as Sierra Club, continue to call foul on this deal and don't knuckle under and give in like they did in West Virginia.  Integrity is a valuable commodity in the market of real life.
 
 
Clean Line filed a new motion in its stalled Iowa transmission permitting case the other day.  The "Motion to Establish Procedural Schedule" pretends it's not just a rehash of its two earlier failed efforts to get the Iowa Utilities Board to bifurcate its hearing process for Clean Line's convenience.  Instead of asking for "bifurcation," this time Clean Line is asking for "a single proceeding in two phases."
The word "bifurcate" means "to divide into two branches or forks" (or "phases").

Instead of addressing the IUB's reasons for denying Clean Line's two previous attempts to bifurcate its proceedings (here and here), Clean Line gives the same old lame excuses for why it needs to do this.  Nothing has changed.

In its February 2015 Order Denying Motion to Consider Eminent Domain Issue in a Separate Hearing, the IUB found that the benefits of bifurcation flowed primarily to Clean Line, while the detriments flowed to affected landowners.  The IUB also determined that bifurcation posed due process concerns and was confusing to affected landowners.  The IUB found Clean Line's claim that "many" landowners have expressed a preference for bifurcation baseless.
Now, Clean Line argues that an unknown number of landowners have expressed a preference to wait until after a Board decision on the franchises to sign easement agreements. This means that if all issues are addressed in a single hearing, Clean Line will have to prepare more Exhibit E applications than it will under the two-hearing process. For this reason, Clean Line argues, administrative efficiency would be advanced by the two-hearing approach. Clean Line does not offer any indication of the number of such landowners, other than “many.”

It appears Clean Line could have provided the number of these landowners without violating the confidentiality of the individual negotiations. In the absence of a substantiated number, it is difficult to accept that this group represents a significant part of the overall number of easements Clean Line needs to acquire.

In all, this argument for increased administrative efficiency is speculative at best, and outweighed by the inefficiencies associated with having two hearings to decide issues that are normally decided in a single hearing.
So, did Clean Line provide an actual number of landowners it is still claiming would benefit from bifurcation this time?
Further, a number landowners wish to have clarity on the Board’s decision about the Project in general before negotiating a parcel-specific easement.

Was that a typo, or was someone supposed to stick an actual number in that space before filing this motion? 

This is all you got, Clean Line?  My, my, my, aren't you desperate?

*giggle*