The American Legislative Exchange Council describes itself as a "partnership of America's state legislators and members of the private sector."  Why would your legislators need a "partnership" with corporations?  Corporations can't vote!

But corporations need elected officials to make laws favorable to them.  And most politicians are extremely cheap dates.  Buy them a drink and whisper in their ear and they'll toss their constituents under the bus in a heartbeat.

ALEC makes it even more fun by providing "scholarships" for your legislators to enjoy a fun-filled vacation, expensive dinners, golf outings, and beach time in exchange for a few hours listening to corporate agendas and carrying corporate-written bills back to their state legislatures.

It's no different here in the Eastern Panhandle, where the FirstEnergy Legislative Exchange Council will be in full swing wining and dining your legislators during a fancy dinner at The Purple Iris this evening.
We would like to invite you and a guest to please join your legislative colleagues and the management of FirstEnergy in West Virginia for one of our legislative dinners.  Company management will be discussing what is happening with the company in your area, and discuss FirstEnergy's legislative priorities.

All events begin with a reception at 6:30 PM and dinner at 7:00 PM.

November 10, 2015 - The Purple Iris, 1956 Winchester Ave., Martinsburg. 

Please RSVP to Sammy Gray, Director, State Affairs, and let me know if you plan to attend and bring a guest.

We look forward to seeing you at one of our events!
Electric conglomerate FirstEnergy (owner of Potomac Edison and Mon Power) is gathering your legislators for a series of private fancy dinners across the state to tell them first hand about FirstEnergy's legislative agenda for the upcoming year.

When a candidate for public office asked for an invitation to this private event so he, too, could learn about FirstEnergy's legislative priorities, he was told:
Thank you for you interest in meeting with us to discuss legislative issues and to meet our folks.
I would be pleased to meet with you privately at some time, however, the event tomorrow evening is for incumbents only.
Please check your calendar and suggest a few dates that you have available.
Oh, so regular folks can't partake of the private Purple Iris sumptuous buffet UNLESS they are in an immediate position to do FirstEnergy's bidding?  This is nonsense, and any legislators who attend should be embarrassed.

...because we will find out who you are, what was said, and any campaign contributions that change hands.

Hey, remember when a lowly reporter crashed a Wall Street secret society dinner and came out with recordings and pictures of the event?  Fun times!

The legislators would do better showing up at the McDonalds right up the street to hear the legislative priorities of their constituents who have been plagued with inaccurate and outrageous electric bills, and incessant rate increases.  Who knows, someone might even buy them some french fries!!!

The eyes.... the eyes....  The eyes are everywhere!  I hope this evening's goodie bag contains Rolaids.  You're probably going to need them.
You're probably anxious to know what I think about PATH's Brief on Exceptions.

And you're probably eager to find out what I think about Trial Staff's Brief on Exceptions.

And I think you're also interested in what I think about the Joint Consumer Advocates Brief on Exceptions.

And you're probably just beside yourself with fervent, giddy curiosity to know what I think about Edison Electric Institute's Motion to Intervene Out-of-Time or, in the Alternative, Participate as Amicus Curiae, and Brief on Exceptions.

Alas, that's privileged information.  Attorney-client privilege between me, myself and I, you know.

All in due time, grasshopper.  All shall be revealed in due time.

No mystery what I think about the Brief on Exceptions of Keryn Newman and Alison Haverty.  Read it.

Now get back to work.  Nobody's paying you to read this blog.
More silly utility "educational" seminars.  This one came in the mail yesterday.  The Financial Accounting Institute has invited me to attend its Utility Finance & Accounting seminars in Las Vegas.

Well, woo hoo, party in Vegas!  Except this party costs $1995, plus travel and expenses.  Sad face.  I guess I'll just have to learn utility finance & accounting on my own.

FAI will be teaching its students all sorts of utility accounting concepts, such as how to tell the difference between capital and expense, and "motivations of managers and top management with respect to the issue."  Wait... let me guess, it's because capital expenses earn a bit, fat, juicy return?  Therefore everything should be capital?

But here's the best part of the whole seminar... one of those really great "role playing exercises."  Who doesn't love a good role playing exercise to introduce just the right amount of realism into your learning experience?
The utility can never be sure their position will prevail?  Well, then the utility isn't doing something right!  See section about "ethics considerations" where you can learn about unethical behavior at some utility companies.  I wonder who's going to play that role?

Why should certain costs not be included in rates?  Because they're below-the-line costs.  Will FAI be providing some sort of effective strategy for the "utility CEO" to use to argue that below-the-line costs should be included in a rate?  And since when does a utility CEO or CFO actually show up to argue anything during a rate case?  For that matter, when does a consumer advocate or large industrial ratepayer show up to argue that below-the-line costs should not be included in rates?  FAI can probably dispense with those roles entirely and replace them with a couple of honey badgers.
Now that's realism!
Who's a key transmission challenge in the Midwest?

You're a key transmission challenge in the Midwest!  The biggest "challenge" to building transmission in the Midwest is the people who are expected to sacrifice their businesses, their homes, their retirement, for benefit of the illusive "communities that have a strong demand for renewable power."

Electric Utility Consultants, Inc. (EUCI) is having another "educational" shindig to discuss you "challenges," and once again, you're not invited.

On November 9 and 10, EUCI will be gathering its fattened cows to the trough in Indianapolis to be "educated" about the following:
Transmission as a Market Enabler:  Today's "conservative" approach to transmission planning exposes customers and other market participants to greater risks and costs because by understating the benefits of and risks addressed by transmission, valuable investments in transmission facilities are either not made or delayed.
This session will address a study paid for by WIRES, "The Voice of The Electric Transmission Industry."  WIRES is made up of corporations who stand to profit from building new transmission.  Apparently we're not planning enough transmission for their balance sheets.  Awwww.....

But then there's this:
State Regulatory Viewpoint on Transmission Developments in the Region

State Regulators will share their perspectives on:
Balancing priorities
The role of stakeholder involvement
How different states are looking at the challenges involved to collaborate with other states
The benefits and challenges that competition for regionally cost-shared transmission projects creates for the PUCs and the ratepayer.

Adam McKinnie, Chief Utility Economist, Missouri Public Service Commission
Did anyone tell EUCI that the Missouri Public Service Commission recently denied Clean Line's Grain Belt Express application for a 700-mile transmission line through the state?  Fun times!  I hope they're planning to create some space between that guy and...

KURT ALERT!  Amy Kurt, Clean Line Energy Manager for the development of the Grain Belt Express Clean Line, will be "educating" participants about "The Challenges of Renewable Energy Integration," including the sub-topic "Maintaining grid security and reliability while integrating increased penetrations of renewable energy."  I wonder when Amy got her engineering degree that qualifies her to expound on grid security?  Maybe she's been doing it online, in secret?  Or maybe Hans Detweiler taught her how to be an "engineer?"  At any rate don't let Amy sit with Adam at lunch!  "A" is for awkward!

Participants will learn about "Embracing New Communication Technologies."  Good to see that Amy isn't teaching this one, because her communication skills haven't been working too well on the people of Missouri.  Did I mention that the MO PSC denied the Grain Belt Express application Amy "managed" because its benefits didn't outweigh the harm to Missouri citizens? 

So, what "new technologies" will be embraced?
Communicating with the public is a critical element to successfully building new transmission line projects. Strategic communication requires teams to go beyond traditional outreach tools by embracing new techniques including zip-code targeted social media ads (Facebook and Twitter), electronic communication, videos, online comment collection, and Story Maps. For the busy public, an online open house provides access to open house materials, information videos, interactive maps, and input opportunities. With tight project budgets, it's time to embrace new tactics to communicate and stretch dollars and gain the input necessary to identify smart routes and communicate with all stakeholders throughout the project construction process.
What?  No unit on using to send supportive (but off-topic) comments from your Mommy and Little Sis into a regulatory process?  Well, maybe there's a role for Amy after all!

Unfortunately, the "busy public" interested in transmission isn't interested in a corporate-slanted version of web "facts."  The "busy public" gets its facts from equally busy "public" opposition groups... live and in person, via email, via social media, etc.  Hot time in the ol' tool shed tonight!  Nobody trusts the corporation to be honest, with good reason.
Don't miss Amy discussing:
Illinois is home to two of Clean Line's projects, the Rock Island Clean Line and the Grain Belt Express Clean Line. The Rock Island Clean Line received its regulatory approval from the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) in November of 2014. The Grain Belt Express Clean Line filed its application with the ICC this April. This presentation will provide an overview of Clean Line's approach to developing multi-state, direct current, transmission lines to deliver renewable energy to market.
Be sure to bring your own copy of the "Motion for Leave to File Complaint for Order of Prohibition" pending before the Illinois Supreme Court so you can follow along.
Sounds like a real party, doesn't it?  Unfortunately, it's going to cost you $1195, plus travel and expenses, to get inside.  But who needs to get inside to be a "challenge?"
You know it's a slow news day when...
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
Honestly, I don't how they expect to attract anyone to this meeting without golf outings, winery tours, massages, and hookers and blow in the Hospitality Suite.  And then the heavies from FERC show up.  Way to ruin the party!
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!
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 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.