Well, there they go again… the geniuses at FirstEnergy have devised another not so ingenious way to encourage you to pull their money-losing corporate keister out of the fire.
If you live in FirstEnergy's JCP&L or MetEd service territories, the company invites you to engage in some holiday excess that will put some excess cash in its own pocket. The company's "Merry & Bright"
Christmas lights contest invites you to create an electrical charlie foxtrot on your home and front yard that would put Clark Griswold
to shame and then "like" the company Facebook page
to enter a photo of your creation.
You could win a $250 gift card! I don't think the company accepts gift cards to pay your $250 Christmas lights extravaganza electric bill though.
Ho, Ho, Ho, Big Daddy Tony
needs a new Rolex for Christmas!
"It is clear that the Alliance will seek to make this process unnecessarily burdensome and overly complicated before the board can even make its initial determination on whether the franchise should be granted," the company's lawyers conclude.
Let's take a look at who is making the process "unnecessarily burdensome and overly complicated," shall we?
Each state has a different process for transmission line permitting. In Iowa, a hearing must be held if objections are filed, or when a petition involves the taking of property by eminent domain. The Alliance has helped lots of landowners file objections, therefore a hearing is guaranteed. Also, Iowa law requires informational meetings for landowners before they can be approached by RICL's land agents. But, because RICL will stretch across nearly 400 miles of Iowa, eminent domain will most likely be needed to secure easements. When a company files an application for its project, it must also state whether eminent domain will be sought. If so, the applicant must provide an "Exhibit E" with specific information on each property it expects to take by eminent domain, to include specific ownership, legal description, a map of the property showing buildings, electric lines, and other features, as well as the names of any tenants on the property.
Clean Line can't be bothered to spend this much time and money on each property it wants to acquire, so they have asked the IUB to bifurcate (separate) the franchise process into two separate proceedings. First, Clean Line wants the IUB to determine if its project is needed and serves a public purpose. That way Clean Line can try to keep affected landowners out of that part of the process. Only after that determination has been made would Clean Line bother to spend the money to provide "Exhibit E" information for eminent domain takings. Clean Line also states that an affirmative determination granting it the requested franchise would "put Clean Line in a better position" to spend the money. What they really mean is that it would put them into a better position to threaten landowners and tell them it's a done deal, hoping that would result in less eminent domain takings and less "Exhibit E" material.
Let's take a minute here to talk about Clean Line's "RSVP" for the initial public hearings. I'm not sure why the IUB let them get away with this, but landowner notice of the project and meetings included a superfluous "RSVP" for the meeting, and a "request for information." What kind of information does RICL want? "Exhibit E" info. it would have a hard time gathering on its own, the names of any tenants. This is the same info. it is whining about having to supply in order to apply for eminent domain.
Much to Clean Line's chagrin, however, the Alliance has some very smart attorneys who have filed a motion to resist the motion to bifurcate. First of all, they argue that a motion to bifurcate is premature until the actual application for the franchise is filed because it deprives any potential intervenors of due process to object to the bifurcation. They also note that Clean Line unsuccessfully lobbied for legislation to bifurcate the franchise process in 2011. What Clean Line was unsuccessful at legislatively, they are now trying to acquire through the IUB. They also point out how Clean Line intends to use any potential approval of the franchise before eminent domain proceedings to coerce landowners to voluntarily sign easement agreements.
Now, here's where it gets funny. Clean Line starts to squeal and whine. First, they want to limit the Alliance's participation in the case. I'm sure our friends in Kansas, who were denied due process by having their own participation limited by the KCC, will identify with this tactic:
Clean Line does not object to the Alliance's limited intervention at this stage; however, Clean Line reserves the right to request specific limitations be placed on such participation depending upon the participation of other parties who may have the same interest as the Alliance. Such limitations may include but shall not be limited to prohibiting the Alliance from preparing direct testimony, submitting exhibits or other evidence, or conducting cross examination of witnesses. If the Alliance seeks to "advance the mutual arguments of all its members" as stated in its Petition to Intervene, limiting its participation to briefing legal arguments will satisfy the Alliance's goal.
And then Clean Line starts whining
about how it got outsmarted by quoting information it harvested from the Alliance's website:
...the motive of the Alliance is clear: to make sure Clean Line does not build this transmission line. A recent statement
from the Alliance Board President Carolyn Sheridan to the Alliance members concisely details the strategy:
"From the Board President
Think about it: Imagine you're [Rock Island Clean Line ("RICL")] and you have to file all
this information about a parcel of land in a distant location: How much time would it take
you to learn the names and addresses of all persons with an ownership interest in the land?
How much work would it be for you to prepare a map showing the location of all electric
lines and supports within the proposed easement; and the location of and distance to any building w/in 1OOft. of the proposed line? A lot of work. Multiply that by hundreds; and
you have an idea of how important it is to the success of RICL's project that it obtains.
The more parcels upon which RICL has to do all this work, the less likely this project is to
succeed. Every parcel upon which it has to do all this work is one more shovel of dirt on
the grave of this RICL line. Join the opponents of the line. DO NOT sign an easemnts
[sic] with RICL.
Without bifurcation, it is clear that the Alliance will seek to make this process unnecessarily burdensome and overly complicated before the Board can even make its initial determination on whether the Franchise should be granted.
Umm... so? The Alliance is just using existing laws that were put in place to protect Iowa landowners from out-of-state speculators like Clean Line. If the process is "overly complicated" Clean Line ought to be taking its whining to the Iowa legislature, who made this law.
Clean Line also gives away another one of its strategies: to financially break the Alliance by requiring them to participate in two separate legal processes, hoping they'll run out money and determination somewhere along the way.
I really don't think Clean Line's strategy is working. It's only encouraging landowners to dig in even deeper and resist a voluntary easement. If Clean Line is going to be met with a brick wall in either case, why bother with two different hearings? That doesn't serve administrative efficiency.
And this about sums up Clean Line's little pity party:
The Alliance seeks to force Clean Line to waste time and resources, and consequently also the time and resources of the IUB, with the hope that Clean Line eventually gives
up on the project.
Well, if Clean Line wants to waste the time and resources of the people of Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri and Indiana, as well as regulatory boards in all these states, adjudicating and opposing its unneeded, speculative projects, I'd say Dr. Karma is making a long overdue house call to Clean Line headquarters!
Give up, Clean Line. You've been completely outsmarted by the people of Iowa!
See the following newslinks about Clean Line's public meetings in Iowa this week:
Clean Line's Beth Conley tells a BIG LIE in this story:
Landowners Skeptical of Wind Energy Transmission Line
"...other states to the east that have little wind power potential but a strong demand for clean, reliable energy." First of all, we have a better wind power resource 12 miles off the Atlantic coast, and furthermore, we are not "demanding" this project.
Clean Line Opponents Speak Out
Crowds Grow at Clean Line Public Meetings
Proposed Power Line Leaves Farmers Concerned
The faces and snarky comments from the anchor and reporter in this story are worth watching!
Details on Transmission Line Aired Out
Proposed Power Line Project Sparks Controversy in Northeast Iowa
Property owners sound off on Clean Line plan
In the wake of the FirstEnergy General Investigation of billing, meter reading and customer service practices of Potomac Edison and Mon Power, the WV PSC ordered the company "to address the substance of the complaints voiced at the hearings."
Yesterday, FirstEnergy filed its "address." Gotta wonder, does the PSC ever smack the regulated with a ruler and reject a homework assignment as incomplete?
FirstEnergy only "addressed the substance" of its own selective hearing of the public comments, not the actual comments. FirstEnergy only "addresses" what it wants to address, picking and choosing only the complaints that fit into its story line, and ignoring the rest. Go ahead, read the "report." Were your issues addressed? If not, please feel free to let the WV PSC know.
Don't let your time and effort at the public comment hearing be swept under the rug and dismissed by FirstEnergy! And, while you're at it, why not drop an email to Senator Herb Snyder and let him know how you've been tossed under the bus by the PSC and FirstEnergy. Be nice to Herb, he's on our side!
Mr. Glotfelty also noted that there could be circumstances under which the Grain Belt Project could find it necessary to depart from the cost recovery model described and instead seek cost recovery through regional or inter-regional cost allocation mechanisms.
Mr. Berry testified that while Petitioner currently has no plans to seek cost recovery for this Project through regional cost allocation, Petitioner is not in a position to make an irrevocable commitment not to seek cost allocation. He stated that such a commitment would be premature and would potentially go against the public interest. If regulations change in the future, an irrevocable commitment not to recover costs in a certain manner may compromise the ability of Petitioner to complete the Project.
Do you think maybe GBE isn't being completely honest with FERC? I do wonder how a situation that may compromise GBE is is against the public interest, if all project risk is being absorbed by GBE as a merchant transmission project?
GBE has presented an altered version of reality to FERC:
D. Public Outreach
Public outreach and active stakeholder involvement are key components of Applicant’s approach to development of the Project. Beginning in 2010, Grain Belt Express implemented an extensive, methodical, multi-level public outreach strategy across Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana, which has resulted in more than 1,000 in-person meetings across the Project area as of November 2013. Grain Belt Express also has maintained an active presence online and through social media. The Project’s website, www.grainbeltexpresscleanline.com, has been actively updated since the beginning of the Project in 2010. Among other information, the website contains: a project video that describes the need for the Project and how Grain Belt Express will bring significant economic benefit to states through much-needed transmission expansion for new wind energy projects; an FAQ section for all stakeholders to learn greater details about the Project; a section on how local businesses can learn about opportunities to participate in the construction of the Project; and information regarding Project meetings, maps, studies, regulatory filings, and third-party resources. In addition, Grain Belt Express distributes a newsletter on a regular basis to hundreds of stakeholders. These newsletters provide information on Project milestones, recent events and meetings, as well as upcoming Project activities. The newsletter is available to anyone who is interested in receiving a copy. Applicant’s participation in multiple state regulatory proceedings also has publicized information regarding the Project.
E. Project Schedule
Applicant continues to work closely with land use and routing experts as well as landowners, local government officials, state and federal agencies, and other stakeholders in the areas where the Project will be built in order to gather input and determine the specific route for the transmission line in each state that it will traverse. Applicant is consulting experts on topics such as threatened and endangered species, archaeology, and cultural resources to ensure that appropriate considerations are taken into account in the routing decisions. Applicant expects to obtain all necessary authorizations from federal, state, and local governments and agencies for the Project by 2016.
I think I might know a few landowners who feel they have not been "closely worked with." In fact, the affected landowners in Kansas were the LAST ones to find out about GBE's project. Some of these landowners feel they were not properly notified under Kansas law, and even when they found out, they were denied effective participation in a matter that granted GBE the right to take their land by force. GBE even admits that, according to their public outreach plan, landowners are the last to be notified, after environmental groups, business groups, elected officials, local governments, and potential suppliers. It is only after Clean Line has drummed up support for its project by schmoozing and making dubious promises that it springs the project on affected landowners. In this way, Clean Line hopes that landowner concerns will be smothered by the group of MIMPSYs it has created.
However, FERC has no jurisdiction to right any wrongs made in the state regulatory process because it has no authority over siting and permitting. But, the dishonesty is galling.
GBE also tells FERC that it will shoulder all financial responsibility and risk for its project:
Applicant is assuming all market risk associated with the development and construction of the Project, and Applicant does not have and will not have any captive customers. Accordingly, Applicant has no ability to pass through the Project’s costs to captive ratepayers.
Well, not really. GBE is passing some of its risk and cost associated with its project on to affected landowners and local governments who are expected to shoulder uncompensated project costs. Such costs may include the expense of providing public safety services during construction and operation, use of roadways for construction and maintenance, reduction in tax base, lowered property values, interference with farming operations, health and safety risks of living and working in close proximity to the project, inverse condemnation takings, lowered farm operation income, and increased costs to farm around the project, and the list goes on.
GBE also mentions that there are other planned regional projects that will provide price competition. These other projects that are ordered by RTOs are financed by, and guaranteed cost recovery from, ratepayers. Ratepayers are assuming all risk of these other projects. If GBE causes the competing projects to fail, ratepayers will end up financing the failed projects, for which they will never receive any benefit.
In addition, GBE is promising FERC that it will abide by the Commission's rules about honest and aboveboard negotiation with potential customers. If landowners believe GBE has not been honest and aboveboard with them, how can FERC trust that GBE will keep promises made in this application? Many believe that GBE has not developed a good reputation of honestly attempting to follow regulation in the public interest. In fact, some believe that GBE's reputation is that of smart alec arrogance, always trying to manipulate regulation in order to advance its pecuniary goals.
For instance, after promising Kansas regulators 135 "operations" jobs in the state related to its project, GBE tells FERC the truth:
Once the Project is completed, Applicant will turn over operational control of the Project to an RTO, which will operate the line pursuant to a FERC-approved non-discriminatory rate schedule filed under the RTO’s OATT.
There is no RTO located in Kansas.
GBE also asks FERC for permission to use special selection criteria to evaluate offers. Preference will be given to potential customers who are willing to make "deposits" and shoulder some of the cost burden. In this way, GBE may be discriminating against customers who are not in a position to invest in its speculative project. I'm not sure this is what FERC really had in mind as non-discriminatory.
Keep an eye on this one. It's going to be interesting.
The WV PSC issued an Order
today setting an evidentiary hearing for December 17 - 19 on its General Investigation into meter reading, billing and customer service practices.
An evidentiary hearing will allow interested parties to intervene, file testimony and cross examine witnesses. At the end of the process, the PSC will order remedies, if it determines that any are necessary.
The Commission has set a deadline of November 27 for petitions to intervene in the case.
In addition, FirstEnergy filed its response to the PSC Staff's recommendations.
FirstEnergy is now admitting that maybe we're right. It's the legal equivalent of being "a little pregnant," I suppose.
...the Companies identified accounts in the Potomac Edison and Mon Power territories that we deemed necessary for reading on a monthly basis through at least January 2014 in order to help address the situation. If the Companies are unable to obtain an actual reading for those accounts during that period, the billing department is reviewing the history to manually determine an estimate. If a manual estimate cannot be calculated or other problems are discovered, the account is escalated to a Meter Reading supervisor.
How do you suppose these accounts were "identified?" In its monthly statistical filing
, FirstEnergy states that there are only "several thousand" problem accounts (out of more than 500,000). I guess that must mean I've heard from every one of those customers over the past year and a half because I'm sure they didn't leave out any of the people who've told me their billing horror story.
After last month's review of accounts with multiple estimates during last year's storms and winter heating season, we have identified several thousand customer accounts for special handling. This is a proactive attempt to mitigate compounding issues from a year ago. These accounts will be downloaded for reading on a monthly basis starting November through January 2014. These accounts also have a hold placed OR billing to first allow for an internal review if an actual read cannot be obtained. The review includes a billing representative's analysis of last year's estimation through the winter heating period to manually determine an estimate. If a manual estimate cannot be calculated or other problems are discovered the account is escalated to the Meter Reading supervisor for further handling.
So, are you "special?" FirstEnergy still hasn't gotten it right. We are ALL "special."
How much money is this company going to waste on uninspired, half-assed "fixes" and denial of the problem? Will they end up spending MORE than it would have cost to just do it right in the first place?
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...
On a recent day, the men stood behind ropes tied across the path leading to the outpost, smoking cigarettes and watching for construction workers they feared would come at any time. Three nooses dangled from nearby pine trees. “To hang them or be hanged,” the men said.
The women have also taken a fatalistic turn, building trenches in front of their tents they say will serve as their own grave sites if the authorities try to remove them. Ms. Sohn said she recently tried to prepare her children for the worst.
“When they called me the other day, I said, ‘I will die fighting,' ” she said. “That way, I would be less ashamed when I met my dead ancestors.”
The social injustice of forcing rural landowners to make a sacrifice to provide a benefit for distant cities and corporate profits is internationally recognized, and particularly galling when the need for sacrifice is purely manufactured based on political or financial goals.
Building transmission (whether it's needed or not) has been a utility profit center for years. But now investor owned utilities are really shaking the transmission money tree to make up for the fact that the rest of their business is failing
And like all good utility money-making schemes, West Virginia's out-of-state utility tedious twins go head-to-head to see which one can make the most money doing it fastest and "bestest."
Last week, FirstEnergy's Tony the Trickster made some big deal about a new transmission money making scheme approved by FirstEnergy's Board of Bamboozlers. This $2.8B "transmission spend" was given cover by being dubbed the "Transmission Reliability Excellence Plan 2014-2017," like it's all about reliability and not about "target[ing] annual transmission Net Income growth of 20+%." At what point do the reliability needs of customers intersect with FirstEnergy's need to make money? Wow, serendipity! FirstEnergy's system is going to be as "unreliable" as needed to grow income 20+%. The more "unreliable" FirstEnergy's system is, the more money FirstEnergy makes!
The "near term" plan consists mainly of rebuilds and upgrades to FirstEnergy's ATSI and TrAILCo systems. FirstEnergy will concentrate on its 69 & 138kV systems in order to avoid regulatory or community opposition hurdles that could slow down the "investment." FirstEnergy also reasons that an improved system will cut down on future maintenance costs, and that will help keep O&M in check.
But, wait a tick, how much of this "need" for re-building has been caused by FirstEnergy's long-term failure to maintain its system, and therefore should properly fall under the category of ordinary maintenance expense that the company has already been reimbursed for? If it were this easy, utilities could simply refuse to perform any maintenance on their transmission systems, and then wrap all the ordinary course repairs into some fancy package called a "Transmission Reliability Excellence Plan" and get reimbursed for it separately (and at higher rates) when a need to grow income arises. This isn't "reliability," it's a ratepayer shakedown. If FirstEnergy gets away with it, the company plans to increase their "reliability" to the tune of $12B "over time."
FirstEnergy reasons: The majority of these projects located in the ATSI region will target 69kV lines, which are outside of the RTEP approval process, and that construction would occur on land where most rights- of-way are already secured. But, assets assigned to TrAILCo must receive PJM RTEP approval and operate at 100kV and above, therefore these will be secondary to the low-hanging fruit in ATSI.
You'll be happy to know that public-money-sucker Burns & McDonnell has been hired to manage the engineering, procurement, construction and completion of the capital portfolio created for the plan and has established an office in Akron, OH. It's full steam ahead to spend as much of your money as fast as possible, little ratepayer!
FirstEnergy plans to put all its "transmission spend" eggs into its FERC jurisdictional formula rate baskets -- ATSI with a return of 12.4%, and TrAILCo, with a return of 11.7% for non-TrAIL projects and 12.7% for rebuilds and upgrades to the two-year old TrAIL line.
Is this really about "energizing the future by improving the health, capacity, and reliability of the transmission system for existing and new customer loads," or is it more about "energizing the future by improving the health, capacity, and reliability of the FirstEnergy balance sheet for existing and new shareholders"?
Meanwhile, not to be outdone, AEP has also announced its own plan to spend around $5B on the "reliability" of its transmission systems over the next 3 years.
AEP CEO Nick Akins said the company’s infrastructure investments will be aimed at improving the reliability of electric service to customers. He said the company expects to invest nearly $5 billion in its AEP Transmission Holding Co. unit through 2016, adding the holding company’s contribution to earnings will nearly double in 2014 alone.
However, AEP isn't afraid to invest in joint ventures and big, new projects outside its footprint.
Both companies have also submitted numerous bids on the first two PJM transmission project bidding windows.
Which transmission investment business plan will be the winner? And how much is this going to cost us before regulators catch on to the "reliability" scam and challenge it? And what if someone goes after the companies' FERC ROEs? The fun is only just beginning...
Maybe we should distract their attention by challenging these two companies to see which one of them gets into the solar business first? How much money is there to be made putting solar on every residential roof and then charging the customers "rent" for the investment? Or will they continue pumping the transmission "reliability" well until it runs dry before taking any positive action to make themselves relevant in a brave, new, distributed generation world?
Grain Belt Express opponent Amy Harvey lives in the tiny town of Polo, Missouri. I'm sure it was mere coincidence that Grain Belt Express recently opened an "office" in Polo for the purposes of doing business with all the landowners who are beating a path to Grain Belt's door to sign over their property early and cheaply.
Amy is Polo's version of Bree Van De Kamp, so it was inevitable that she would take the initiative to be a good neighbor and welcome Grain Belt Express to Polo.
She baked them some delicious, organic BANANA muffins,
and she made them an artsy "Welcome!" card
and she paid a visit to GBE's "office."
Unfortunately, the only one home at Grain Belt Express was intern Cari, who was killing time waiting for some emails of support from local government officials to show up.
Cari relished the delicious muffins and wanted to know what was in them. Happiness, Cari, just pure happiness!
I can't wait to see what Amy cooks up next...
by Dr. Luis Contreras
The US Power Grid is a very complex system, expensive, insecure and not very reliable, as we found out yesterday in Rogers and NWA where thousands of people were left in the dark while SWEPCO tried to fix the grid
. All is good now, but it could happen again, say tomorrow.
Fossil fueled power plants, many of them coal-fired, are based on the 1800’s idea of using fire to heat up water and make steam to power generators, a technology that goes back to the Industrial Revolution of 1712.
Central bulk power is located far away from people to hide the air pollution and water contamination, based on the idea “if you don’t see it or can’t smell it, we can live with it.” Coal plants are built near rivers and lakes as they use great quantities of water to generate steam. The man-made SWEPCO 500-acre lake is warm 365 days a year because it serves as a cooling agent for the Flint Creek Power Plant. The water is between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, good for fishing if you don’t mind the emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, mercury and other hazardous pollutants.
Bulk power is transmitted on the Grid where different voltage levels are interconnected by substations which contain voltage transformers, circuit breakers, surge arrestors, isolators, as well as measurement equipment and switchgear.
Electrical Engineers spend years designing and planning trying against all odds to make it work under any conditions. It is not easy and it is not even possible: adding redundancy only increases cost and complexity, any additional component can make it fail. Even Rocky, the Flying Squirrel can take it down.
The lean alternative is distributed generation and consumption, using the existing grid as a buffer: extra energy generated is sold to the Grid which sells energy to everyone else. That is true reliability. To take down a distributed power system, you need millions of squirrels, at least one per home. Squirrels and humans can live in peace, as long as we don’t put all of our eggs in one Grid. Maintaining the existing grid and distributed renewable power are the future of the Ozarks, not more 345,000 Volt transmission lines.
Doc is a a Lean Systems Expert Consultant, with a PhD from Georgia Tech, trained by Jesuits to take a firm stand on defense of social justice, and protect his family and friends "Por los demas, y para los demas, con hambre y sed de justicia."
He is an Austin TX resident, with a vacation home in Eureka Springs Arkansas.
He was trained in Martial Arts to respect others and have a lead and take action with a calm mind and determination.
When in doubt, he asks himself "what would Bugs Bunny do?" that helps him think out of the box, take a chance, and hope for the best.
He feels that we are here for a reason, we will be gone soon, and we need to make a difference in what matters - good friends, mother earth, our common house, are important to him.
He plans to make a $100 contribution to the Save the Squirrels Foundation.