The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission) hereby gives notice
that members of the Commission and/or Commission staff may attend the following
North American Electric Reliability Corporation
Member Representatives Committee and Board of Trustees Meetings
Board of Trustees Corporate Governance and Human Resources
Committee, Finance and Audit Committee, Compliance Committee, and
Standards Oversight and Technology Committee Meetings
The Ritz Carlton Toronto
181 Wellington Street West
Toronto, ON M5V 3G7
You know it's a slow news day when...
Thirty-seven dozen people showed up at the Fort Smith Convention Center in Fort Smith Arkansas last night to tell the U.S. Department of Energy what they think about the Plains & Eastern Clean Line. It was a madhouse (in a most literal sense!)
Arkansan Julie Morton summed it all up quite nicely:
“If you keep trampling on the rights of ‘we the people’ you may have another American Revolution on your hands!"
Clean Line's spokesman continued to blow smoke up everyone's ass by telling them that they shouldn't be concerned about possible health effects. I don't think anyone believed him, and judging from his body language, I'm not certain he even believed himself!
What is certain is that the people of Arkansas WILL NOT peaceably accept this transmission line.
It's time for DOE to fall on its sword and stop this travesty!
The WV Public Service Commission issued an Order today scheduling public comment hearings on Potomac Edison's proposed 17.2% rate increase.
Two local hearings will be held in Shepherdstown at the Shepherd University Frank Center on October 6, 2014. The first hearing begins at 1:00 p.m. and will be followed by a second hearing beginning at 6:00 p.m.
Customers are strongly encouraged to attend and sign up to speak briefly about how the proposed rate increase will affect you. If you can't make the start time, that's okay, late arrivals will still be permitted to speak as long as they arrive before the hearing concludes.
This hearing is also the place to tell the Commission how you feel about its decision to make you pay the $7.5M cost of Potomac Edison's monthly meter reading ordered as a result the General Investigation into the company's meter reading and billing practices.
See you there!
More Than 700 Missouri Landowners Show Up at Grain Belt Express Public Hearings to Protect Their Property Rights
The Missouri PSC held its first two public hearings concerning the highly controversial Grain Belt Express on Tuesday. The company is seeking to become a public utility in Missouri with the hope of building a mega high voltage DC power line through the state that would originate in Kansas and terminate in Indiana and provide power to the east coast. The company has promised that they will build a substation that would make less than 1% of Missouri’s annual energy usage available for purchase by local utilities.
Opponents of the project were mostly Missouri landowners and farmers who are determined to block the company from receiving public utility status because it would allow them to use eminent domain to force landowners to host massive power lines on their property. The Missouri PSC will ultimately decide if the private, speculative company from Texas should be granted such power over Missouri citizens.
The PSC is holding a series of public hearings in each of the eight impacted counties. The first two of them were held August 12th, in Hannibal and Monroe City. The hearings were extremely well attended. Over 700 attendees made the drive to have their voices heard. The vast majority were in complete opposition to Grain Belt.
Group spokesperson Jennifer Gatrel commented, "We were really hoping that opponents of the project would wear green to make their opposition known. We were not disappointed. The audience was a sea of green! We were also very happy that the PSC allowed the audience to show their support with applause. It soon became very apparent to all that the project was firmly opposed. We are so grateful to the many articulate, intelligent, passionate people who showed up to make extremely compelling arguments. We find it impossible to believe that the commissioners were not deeply moved."
Some of the highlights of the hearings included Missouri State Rep. Jim Hansen making an impassioned plea for property rights and liberty. Landowner Louis Meyer drove 1,000 miles to attend the hearing and spoke for 15 minutes, laying out an implacably researched and deeply moving argument against Grain Belt. He presented a literal stack of evidence to the commission to back up his statements. Mothers got up and spoke plainly about their fear of having their kids and grandkids near the lines. Farmers like Kent Dye spoke to the technical reasons why having giant obstacles in the middle of fields makes farming much more difficult and dangerous, and lowers profits.
A recurring theme at both hearings were the unsavory tactics and broken promises made by Grain Belt. A local business owner testified to the commission that his business was falsely added as a supporter of Clean Line on list created by the company. Two gentlemen, Macy Rotenburg and former state Representative John Cauthorn, testified that they had determined that many businesses were erroneously put on the supporters list. There were also many people who testified that they were told that they would get answers to their questions, but have not. One woman submitted a recording of Grain Belt Project Director of Development Mark Lawlor making promises that he later broke.
Like a night of great theater, there were tears and laughter from the crowd. One spirted lady brought a giant extension cord to the podium. She stated that one end represented Kansas, and the other end Indiana. The cord itself represented the Midwest it would pass through. She then presented the commissioners with a night light to represent the power that Missouri may purchase from Grain Belt Express. Both the officials and the audience were tickled. As she left the podium, the judge asked her with a smile, "Do you want your nightlight back”?
Block GBE recently became aware of how little progress Grain Belt Express has made with land acquisition. In July, Grain Belt stated that, to date, it has signed easement agreements from approximately 179 landowners for approximately 61 miles in Kansas. In Missouri, it has received approximately 9 easement agreements for approximately 2 miles.
"Grain Belt is proposed to cross 370 miles of Kansas, but currently only has the land rights to 16 percent of it. I guess the reports I read that Clean Line has all the land in Kansas they need for the project couldn’t have been farther from the truth,” said Matthew Stallbaumer, whose family farm near Seneca, Kansas would be impacted.
Block GBE president Russ Pisciotta remarked, "We are thrilled! We honestly don't know how the hearings could have gone better. Thank you to all who have sacrificed so much to protect private property rights. Those who came out yesterday certainly set the bar high for the upcoming hearings, but I have no doubt they too will be a rousing success!"
To find out more about this issue and to get a schedule of the upcoming public hearings please visit BlockGBEMO here.
Yesterday marked the first two Missouri PSC public hearings on Clean Line's Grain Belt Express project. Additional hearings will be held later this week, and in early September. Get dates, times and locations here.
Missouri showed them!
Hundreds packed the two public hearings and dozens spoke out against the project.
I think Clean Line infused spokeswoman Cari VanAmburg with a little too much perky.
"500 megawatts of clean wind power for the state!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" You're going to be seeing this in your nightmares for years.
You believe her, don't you?
Block Grain Belt Express-Missouri is calling on its members, and all Missourians, to speak out about the Grain Belt Express transmission project at important Public Service Commission hearings slated to begin next week.
"We really cannot over-emphasize how crucial these public hearings are to preventing the precedent of an out-of-state company receiving the state’s power of eminent domain to take private property for its speculative, for-profit venture,” said Jennifer Gatrel, spokeswoman for Block GBE. “We must stand together as a community to protect our property rights!”
The first hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, August 12 at 11:00 a.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Monroe City. That hearing will be closely followed by one at 6:00 p.m. the same day at the Hannibal-LaGrange University Theater Auditorium in Hannibal. Other dates include August 14 in Marceline and Moberly, September 3 in Cameron and St. Joseph, and September 4 in Hamilton and Carrollton.
Block GBE leadership advises citizens who wish to participate to arrive early to have their names added to the speakers’ list, and immediately find a seat inside the meeting room.
Mary Mauch, spokeswoman for the Block RICL Illinois citizens group fighting Clean Line’s Rock Island Clean Line project, has been speaking out about some of the tactics Clean Line used in Illinois last year to pack the public hearings with incentivized speakers and prevent affected landowners from having an opportunity to make their views heard.
“Clean Line bussed in groups of students, offered them a free dinner, dressed them in Clean Line t-shirts and handed out talking points that supported RICL. However, it was clear that the students were ill-informed about the actual purpose and details of the project” said Mauch. “The most disturbing aspect of Clean Line’s stacking of the speaker pool was that many affected landowners who had driven long distances to speak were turned away without a chance to have their voices heard,” she added.
Block GBE believes that Clean Line may be planning a similar scheme in Missouri based on emails and other documents that were divulged by the company during an earlier complaint by Missouri Landowners Alliance regarding Clean Line’s public relations practices.
Group spokesperson Jennifer Gatrel said that the emails revealed that Clean Line had been offering students pizza parties and other “swag” in exchange for gathering signatures on a petition to the PSC supporting Grain Belt Express, and that Clean Line has been planning to bus in college students to the Missouri public hearings for months.
“This is how the transmission permitting game is played,” said Keryn Newman, a nationally-recognized grassroots consultant who observed Clean Line’s efforts to mute the comments of affected landowners in Illinois last fall. “It’s about an effort to simply out-number and out-shout impacted landowners with large numbers of indifferent individuals acting at company direction while motivated by freebies or promises of a fun party with as many friends as they can bring along,” she added.
Some of Block GBE's major concerns are property rights, property devaluation, health effects, and the impediments to farming posed by the lines. Citizens interested in standing up for Missouri and showing Grain Belt Express how much they care about their communities and property rights can get more information about the public hearings at blockgbemo.com or by calling 660-232-1280.
An updated copy of the public hearing schedule can be found here.
Copies of the Clean Line emails can be viewed here.
Remember, little ratepayer and property owner, you're a PJM "stakeholder," too, and you should be participating in the planning process that at some point in the future may require you to sacrifice a right of way through your private property, or pay for big, new transmission lines of questionable benefit to you.
It's another hot time at the expensive, luxury hotel for our "stakeholders," where market power players and their toadies will be turning out in their best "resort casual" wear to partake in free leisure activities sponsored by the corporations that make big profits from the cartel.
You are cordially invited to attend the 2014 PJM Annual Meeting of Members to be held at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay. Please note that the dress code is “Resort Casual”. The program will be similar to last year's event starting on Tuesday, May 13 with registration and an Opening Reception and ending on Thursday, May 15 with the Members Committee meeting and buffet luncheon.
They forgot to add extracting obscene profits from consumer pockets, but maybe that's not a leisure activity; instead it's one that requires hard work.
So, what do the PJM aristocracy do at these meetings, when they're not participating in leisure activities, receptions and luncheons?
They review the past year of incumbent electricity conglomerate rule. They "train" your Consumer Advocates. They eat dinner and hand out golf awards. Then they have entertainment night with desserts.* I think it would be pretty entertaining to give a couple of sponsor CEOs a pie in the face, but that's probably not what PJM has in mind. They also allow the well-funded environmental elite to perform a song and dance for the assembled dignitaries, but no one really pays any attention to it, although that never stops the "public interest group" PIGs from believing that this year's production will be the one that convinces everyone to pay even more for "clean" electricity.
So much glib self-congratulation at your expense, so little time. If your electric supplier is one of PJM's meeting sponsors, run (don't walk!) to sign up for one of the free leisure activities. You're probably paying for it in your electric bill anyhow, might as well enjoy.
And what are the worker bees doing at PJM while the lords and ladies play on Maryland's Eastern Shore? They're holding PJM's annual capacity market auction, where the prices consumers will pay to have generation resources available in 2017-2018 will be determined. Where prices may end up seems to be a matter of opinion. Incumbent generators have been plagued by low prices in previous auctions. PJM's market monitor says the capacity market is broken and has championed several changes that have been recently approved by FERC to raise prices.
PJM has instituted a limit on imported capacity that is supposed to stop the flood of bids from generators in other regions that have been gaming the market by receiving revenue for resources they can't deliver, or resources controlled by other regional operators (yes, big wind, they're talking about y-o-u). Oh, go ahead, read more about it here, but first a little mood music to help you prepare. Sorry about that, but it was actually a pretty concise explanation of PJM's reasoning for the CIL.
The other change is supposed to "result in the more efficient and flexible use of demand response," but will probably just drive some resources from the market altogether. Because demand response lowers overall demand at times of peak use by paying participants to reduce their load, this means that more actual generation capacity will be needed.
But some generators aren't optimistic that the changes will do much to raise prices enough to satisfy their greed and save their bacon. Some generators seem to want more.
And if you think all this capacity auction stuff is about as exciting as watching paint dry, you're not alone. This blogger so thoughtfully compares PJM's capacity markets to steroids in baseball so that we can understand it:
PJM admits that steroids are endemic to the game but then recalculates the final score of the game based on what they believe the outcome would have been if the players were not on steroids.
Maybe PJM should just be doing more of this, and less of this.
*Update! PJM has changed its agenda today. It no longer says "Entertainment night with desserts." Now it says "Dessert Reception and Lawn Games." I guess FirstEnergy showed up with the
Another quarter, another FirstEnergy earnings call.
They sounded like they were all on some sort of doggie downer while reading their scripts for the first half of the call. It was only when the line was thrown open to questions that the party started.
Stupid business buzz word for this quarter: "glide path." Ex. FirstEnergy sees its glide path to riches dotted with the corpses of its customers.
It seems that FirstEnergy is about to take one in the shorts because much of its generation was offline during the polar vortex and it had to purchase power. Very expensive power. FirstEnergy also expects to be hit with a bundle of PJM charges resulting from the vortex, but that's okay, the company expects to either drop them on regulated customer doorsteps, stick it to competitive customers through contracts, or simply whine to PJM and FERC about the unfairness of it all. When asked (repeatedly) to put a ballpark number on this, Tony the Trickster avoided the question.
FirstEnergy expects 80% of its earnings to come from its regulated business in the future. That includes FirstEnergy's new found love of transmission upgrades. Once again, FirstEnergy puts all its eggs in one basket. Ooooh! Shiny object! Transmission spend!
Does anyone but FirstEnergy really think that milking regulated customers for transmission upgrades of questionable necessity isn't going to run into a regulatory buzz saw? My Magic 8 Ball tells me "it is certain." Maybe Tony needs to get a Magic 8 Ball to help him run the company?
FirstEnergy is all ticked off about PJM's markets not working. What they mean is that the markets are not working to make FirstEnergy a bundle of money. But, FirstEnergy seem intent on making a regulatory nuisance of itself.
One more thing before I go....
This is a vocabulary lesson for Leila:
The word you were searching for is exacerbate.
verb [ with obj. ]
make (a problem, bad situation, or negative feeling) worse: the forest fire was exacerbated by the lack of rain.
Here's a link where you can hear the word pronounced.
The word is not pronounced "exasperate." These are examples of incorrect usage:
"The situation with market power prices in January was a product of base load generation that was stretched to its limit and exasperated by gas units that were impacted by constrain gas transmission and high spot trading prices."
"The fact that JCP already has the lowest rate in the state of New Jersey, which again further exasperates the consequence of that."
Leila's misuse of exacerbate exasperates me.
The WV PSC's evidentiary hearing in the General Investigation of Potomac Edison and Mon Power Meter Reading, Billing and Customer Service Practices was held in Charleston December 17 -18. If you didn't have an opportunity to watch the hearing live, never fear, we drove 12 hours, spent 2 nights in a hotel, talked to people we don't particularly like, fended off icy stares, and stayed awake for the entire thing in order to generate 13 pages of notes just so you can find out what happened. The media took no notice of the event, even though FirstEnergy media personality Toad Meyers was there to act as their personal hearing interpreter. Maybe they're waiting for him to share his notes...
If you've never watched one of these hearings, let's set the stage. It's a quasi-judicial, court-like proceeding, sans robes and much of the formality. This was an opportunity for the Commissioners to consider evidence and examine witnesses. Witnesses sponsored by the parties to the case filed written testimony and rebuttals in advance. At the hearing, the witnesses took the stand to have their testimony officially recognized and to give opposing parties a chance to cross examine them. The Commissioners also took the opportunity to ask the witnesses questions. The parties to this case are FirstEnergy's Potomac Edison and Mon Power utilities, the Staff of the PSC, and the Consumer Advocate Division of the PSC. Between them, they produced 6 witnesses, 4 from the company, and one each from the Staff and the CAD.
FirstEnergy's first witness was John Hilderbrand, Director of Operations Support for Mon Power, who was grilled by the attorneys for CAD and Staff, and the Commissioners, for more than three hours. From my notes:
Second witness was Kaye Julian, Director of Customer Management.
FirstEnergy counsel helps out by asking witness on redirect if there is a similar billing problem in FirstEnergy's West Penn Power territory. Julian says there is not because WPP didn't suffer the consequences of Hurricane Sandy.
Next witness was Gary Grant, FirstEnergy's Director of Customer Contact Centers:
Next witness was Kevin Wise, Director of Rates and Regulatory Somethingorother:
Next witness, Suzanne Akers, Utility Analyst with the Consumer Advocate Division, was cross examined by FirstEnergy's counsel.
Final witness was Michael Fletcher, Deputy Director of Consumer Operations Section at the PSC:
If you found this summary interesting, or laughable, check back for links to the hearing transcripts, when they are available.
And now we wait for the Commission to issue an Order to fix this mess. At some point, FirstEnergy has to right its wrongs and make amends to its customers. Otherwise, this saga will simply continue in another venue.
The West Virginia Public Service Commission's evidentiary hearing in the General Investigation of Potomac Edison and Mon Power Meter Reading, Billing and Customer Service Practices is scheduled to take place this week, December 17 - 19.
The hearing will be held in the PSC hearing room in Charleston. The hearing is open to the public as spectators only. There will be no opportunity for the public to make comments during the hearing. The public comment hearings were held in October in Shepherdstown and Fairmont.
If you would like to watch the hearing, but don't have the time or money to travel to Charleston, you can watch the hearing live on the PSC's webcast.
Click here to watch the hearing.
The hearing begins at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, December 17 and will probably run the entire day. If needed, the hearing will continue at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, December 18, and if still more time is needed, continue again on Thursday, December 19. I really can't imagine it taking that long, there are only 6 witnesses.
The witness order will be:
1. Mon Power/Potomac Edison
a) John C. Hilderbrand
b) Kaye G. Julian
c) Gary W. Grant
d) Kevin Wise
2. Consumer Advocate Division
a) Suzanne Akers
3. Public Service Commission Staff
a) Michael L. Fletcher
Read more about the case and the testimony that has been filed here.
And be sure to check back here, or on the Coalition's Facebook page, for updates during the hearing.
Will justice be done?