A settlement has been approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in the matter of recovery of costs of PJM's failed Mid-Atlantic Power Pathway (MAPP) project
MAPP was one of four unnecessary transmission projects proposed by PJM in their Project Mountaineer initiative to increase the use of coal-fired resources by shipping 5,000MW of coal-fired electricity from the Ohio Valley to the East coast. Of these 4 projects (MAPP, PATH, TrAIL and Susquehanna Roseland), two have been cancelled, one has been completed, and one is under construction. The only difference between them is timing and execution by their owners.
All four of these projects took advantage of newly-minted transmission project incentives available from FERC, brought to you by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. One of the incentives granted to these projects was the guaranteed recovery of prudently-incurred project investment in the event the project was abandoned and not built through no fault of the owner.
Therefore, once MAPP was abandoned, its owner, Pepco, filed with FERC for permission to recover its investment in the unbuilt project. Unrecovered investment included capital expense "construction work in progress" costs, which is roughly defined as all expenses for electric projects under construction, including such items as land purchased, labor, engineering and regulatory costs. The amount Pepco filed to recover was $87.5M.
Because some parties intervened and protested the recovery, FERC set the matter for settlement and hearing. A settlement was reached and recently approved by the Commission.
The settlement allows Pepco to recover $80.5M in abandonment costs over a three year period, and allows the company to maintain ownership of all land and land rights purchased as part of the project. However, Pepco must remove the land from its rate base (capital account) that earns a yearly return paid by all electric consumers in the PJM region.
In its cost recovery filing, Pepco valued its land acquisition activities at $38.1M, although actual land values would most likely be much less. So, how much land did Pepco buy for MAPP that the company now owns free and clear?
Converter station sites in Calvert and Wicomico County, MD and Sussex
County, DE were acquired;
Takeoff points into and out of the Chesapeake Bay were acquired;
Transition station locations in Dorchester County were acquired; and
Transmission line right-of-way for entire length was acquired, except for one property in Dorchester County where negotiation was pending.
Looks like Pepco has enough land to concoct another unnecessary transmission project at ratepayer expense, and it looks like Pepco still holds these landowners' lives in limbo under the threat of building a transmission line across their properties. Let this be a lesson to you... do NOT sign right-of-way agreements early in the process, before a project is approved and receives a permit from all states through which it is routed.
Ratepayers in 14 states will remember PJM's failed Project Mountaineer as they pay off Pepco's unbuilt MAPP debt in their electric bills for the next three years. Thanks, PJM!
Honestly, I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried!
Thousands of small, independent farm businesses and other residents of the Midwest are being asked to suck it up and make a financial sacrifice to accept the burden of new high voltage transmission lines through their land proposed by Clean Line Energy Partners.
There is no proven need for Clean Line's projects. They are a speculative venture that assumes "states farther east" will pay outrageous prices for wind energy exported from Kansas, Iowa, and Oklahoma. These projects aren't needed to keep the lights on. They are intended to supplant current generators in "states farther east" and replace them with generation imported from thousands of miles away. This is not economic, nor reliable.
Clean Line Energy Partners is financed by a couple of billionaires, who expect that they will make a huge return on their investment by selling capacity on new transmission lines at a huge profit.
Clean Line has identified one of its investors as Michael Zilkha of Houston, whose inherited fortune was made in the oil industry.
Who is Michael Zilkha? I'm sure he's a perfectly nice man who just happens to live in a 20,515 sq. foot stone manse that features 17 rooms. Built in 1999, the residence features a pool with pool house and lavish grounds including gardens and courtyards.... but no transmission towers. Nasty energy infrastructure is Not In Michael's Back Yard.
Our perfectly nice Mr. Zilkha also supports the arts, making Houston's society pages by "saving lives through words" by supporting poetry at the Houston Writer's Ball.
(go ahead, click through and check out all the photos of our glittery social heroes saving the world with ostentatious panache). Well, that's very helpful for all the Midwesterners who are being asked to make financial sacrifices to enable his transmission line investment to pan out. Maybe he'll write you a poem about eminent domain?
I think I'd rather hang out at a barn dance. At least the people are real.
The target of their legislation is the Rock Island Clean Line, a $2 billion, 500-mile overhead direct current transmission line.
Rogers called private property rights “critically important to our way of life.”
“Many farmers in my district live and work on land that has been in their family for generations, and they want to allow their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren to continue to farm that land and feed the world,” Rogers said. “Our laws must adequately protect their property rights.”
requires that any power line project requesting eminent domain authority must deliver at least 25% of its power to consumers in Iowa. RICL intends to export power from northwest Iowa direct to eastern Illinois, where it will be interconnected with PJM Interconnection, the regional grid operator for mid-Atlantic eastern states.
The second bill requires legislative approval of any request to bifurcate an application for a transmission project in order to separate the determination of need from the request for eminent domain authority. RICL tried to use bifurcation to force landowners into a weak negotiating position for rights-of-way, but was rejected by the Iowa Utilities Board.
Be sure to check the lobbyist declarations on both these bills. Clean Line doesn't appear to be happy about them. I suppose fair is fair though... Iowans don't seem to be very happy about RICL, either.
I wonder if our Clean Line heroes envisioned this kind of opposition when planning their get-rich-quick power line scheme back in 2011? I've heard it said that they gleefully dismissed any possibility of trouble, expecting nothing more than "a couple of ticked off farmers." Personally, I'd never want to tick off any farmers. They have pitchforks. And I like the food they grow.
And speaking of eminent domain, legislators in Missouri are livid over the Arkansas Public Service Commission's approval of a SWEPCO transmission route through 25 miles of Missouri. Within 10 days of the APSC decision, legislators had proposed:
The bill states that “the Missouri Public Service commission shall lack jurisdiction to approve the construction of any electric facilities to be built in accordance with Arkansas Public Service Commission Order 33, Docket Number 13-041-U, authorizing Route 109 as a ‘reasonable route’ for the construction of new three hundred forty-five kilovolt electric transmission lines.”
The overbuilding of new transmission of questionable necessity as a utility or investor profit center has finally gone too far. The people have had enough of this nonsense and their elected representatives are taking action. This transmission craze is now making it difficult to build ANY transmission, even that which may actually be needed. Their cash cow is down and slowly bleeding to death, and it's their own fault. Ooops.
Clean Line Energy's Grain Belt Express transmission project proposes to plow through fifteen (15) counties in Missouri on its route from southwestern Kansas to western Indiana.
Clean Line has indeed awoken the sleeping giant, or as they like to think of it "poked the bear."
On January 13, 2014, Clean Line's Grain Belt Express subsidiary filed a Notice of Intended Case Filing with the Missouri Public Service Commission. The notice is legally necessary at least 60 days prior to filing its application to be granted public utility status and a certificate to own and operate the project in Missouri.
You can participate in this process once the application is filed.
For now, you can file your comments about this case with the PSC
on Docket No. EA-2014-0207. Click the "Public Comments" tab on the horizontal menu of the MO PSC's EFIS
and fill out the form. You can also mail your comments to the PSC. Be sure to mark them with the case number.
You can also let Missouri Governor Jay Nixon know that you do not support this project. Click here to submit your comments online.
The good people of Missouri are standing up and banding together in record numbers to successfully stop this incredibly destructive project.
If you have questions or concerns about the Grain Belt Express, get in touch with Block Grain Belt Express to be connected with a group in your local area, and to find out how you can defend your interests.
This project is far from "a done deal," and prospects for future approval continue to dim with each citizen of Missouri who joins together with others to create a formidable chain of opposition that cannot be broken.
Citizen action has stopped transmission projects and can stop Grain Belt Express! Take action now!
The "Right-to-Take Action" must be Settled BEFORE CPCN May be Granted
Guest blog by Pat Conway, Ontario, Wisconsin
The main purpose for the Wisconsin Public Service Commission's approval process of the CPCN (Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity) is to determine the NEED for ATC's Badger Coulee Line. At the PSC's hearing (docket 05-CE-142), it must be proven that the NEED for the high tension power line is so great that it justifies granting ATC the authority to condemn private property and take the land it needs under "eminent domain".
The fifth Amendment to the US Constitution states: "No person shall be denied life, liberty or property without due process of the law..." And Wisconsin Statute 32.06(5) "Right-to-take Action, provides that a private property owner may challenge a taking for any reason other than just compensation". In the Wisconsin Supreme Court decision of July 13, 2013 it states: The challenge to ATC's condemnation..."is not a meaningless exercise swallowed up in the compensation process," but a property owner's assertion to protect his or her rights."
Common sense tells us that any property owner who has been notified that his or her land is under consideration for ATC's Badger-Coulee line, has the right to begin a "right-to-take" action immediately, before the PSC hearing, in order to protect his or her property rights BEFORE the ROUTE for the line IS CHOSEN. For instance, an Amish man has a right to challenge the condemnation of his land because his farm house is also a church. Or an organic farmer has the right to challenge the right to condemn any portion of his farm because ATC's taking would endanger his or her organic certification and that would threaten their livelihood.
Therefore, any property owner who is threatened by the possibility of the PSC granting ATC condemnation rights, should become an "intervener" in PSC Docket 05-CE-142 and request that the PSC postpone their consideration of ATC's application until after any challenges to ATC's possible taking of their private property, under a "right -to-take action", is settled in the courts. That is the only way a private property owner can assert the protection of his or her private property rights. To grant the authority to condemn before giving the property owner his or her "day in court" is to put the cart before the horse. Not allowing a property owner his or her right to prevent condemnation of their private property through a "right-to-take action" would be to deny them "due process under the law", which would be a violation of the fifth amendment of our Constitution.
"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
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...
The good folks of Illinois put one of our successful PATH opposition tactics to work against Clean Line Energy Partners in their state. Landowners in the path of the Rock Island Clean Line (RICL) project have sent written notice to the company that they do not wish to be contacted by land agents or other company representatives unless and until the company is issued a CPCN by the Illinois Commerce Commission.The Illinoisans made one small modification though, they did not limit contact by U.S. Mail. After all, power company propaganda makes a great, free lining for the chicken house
or pig pen.And, because it is the only avenue left to the company after failed appearances at recent public comment hearings
, they have been sending mail to affected landowners. One recent, pointless letter from Clean Line's Hans Detweiler
served as cover for a company FAQ. The FAQ attempted to respond to recent information about the project posted on the BlockRICL
website and Facebook
page, but I think a lot of RICL's information is misleading or just plain wrong. Here's where I think RICL got it wrong:
Rock Island Clean Line Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the Rock Island Clean Line?
A: The Rock Island Clean Line will be part of the nation's critical infrastructure that will help power our homes, communities, and the clean energy economy. The project will consist of an approximately 500-mile, overhead, direct current (DC) transmission line. The line will be capable of transmitting up to 3,500 megawatts of new renewable energy from northwest Iowa and the surrounding region to communities in Illinois and in states farther east. The project will deliver enough clean, renewable energy to meet the needs of over 1.4 million American homes. The Rock Island Clean Line is not part of any national infrastructure plan and need for it is not critical. RICL is intended to transport electricity generated in western Iowa to eastern Illinois, where it will be connected with the PJM Interconnection system to be sold to consumers in east coast states. RICL will not power homes in the communities being asked to sacrifice to host the transmission line. The economic benefits of RICL will flow into the pockets of Texas-based Clean Line Energy Partners, LLC, not into the pockets of the landowners hosting the project.
Although the line will be capable of transmitting up to 3,500 megawatts of energy, it only has firm transmission injection rights to deliver 700 MW of energy into PJM. RICL may never deliver its claimed capacity upon which it calculated supposed “benefits” of the project. (Rebuttal Testimony of Steven Naumann, ComEd, ICC Docket No. 12-0560).
RICL makes much of the claim that its project will deliver renewable electricity to “states farther east,” however RICL has no customers, and has not produced any commitments or desire for its product from “states farther east.” In fact, eleven east coast governors have written to congress, ten of them twice, stating that importing renewables from other states via long distance transmission lines would hamper renewable energy and economic development in their own states. The “states farther east” do not want or need what RICL is selling.
Q:What will the project cost be and how will the Rock Island Clean Line be funded?
A: The Rock Island Clean Line is estimated to cost approximately $2 billion. Clean Line Energy intends to fund the development costs of the project and will sell transmission capacity to renewable energy generators or to the buyers of the clean energy being delivered on the line. Clean Line is not seeking any federal or state funding. RICL has also shown its intention to ask for regional cost allocation for its transmission project. RICL has proposed in filings with PJM and FERC that its project could be considered a reliability or market efficiency project under PJM’s planning process and that the company may bid the project in future transmission opportunity windows. If RICL is successful in having all or part of its project regionally allocated, all PJM ratepayers could be ordered to fund the project, including those in Illinois. If ordered to be built for reliability or economic reasons by PJM, RICL would be eligible to apply for federal transmission incentives, including return on equity adders and guaranteed recovery in the event of project abandonment. The financing and cost of RICL is not certain.
Q:Will Illinois ratepayers have to pay for the transmission line? Will rates go up because of the Rock Island Clean Line?
A: No. There is currently no method for Rock Island Clean Line to charge Illinois ratepayers for the cost to build the Rock Island Clean Line. If any such way were to be developed in the future, Rock Island Clean Line has agreed to re-apply to the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) for permission in a new proceeding to do so. If RICL were to “develop” a way to charge Illinois ratepayers for its project in the future, that way would be through regional cost allocation via the PJM tariff. The Illinois Commerce Commission has no authority to deny PJM’s assignment of cost responsibility for a project, and therefore its “permission” is not necessary.
There are three potential sources of money to fund transmission lines: government money, ratepayer money ("cost allocation"), or private money (merchant projects). The Rock Island Clean Line is not using government, or taxpayer, funds. There are no government subsidies available for transmission lines. The Rock Island Clean Line is not using ratepayer money. There is no mechanism to allocate the costs for a project like Rock Island to ratepayers. Rock Island is utilizing a merchant model (private money) whereby only those wind energy developers or utilities that use the line will pay for it.
The Rock Island Clean Line will decrease wholesale electricity prices for Illinois consumers. In fact, the project will reduce wholesale electricity prices in Illinois by $320 million in its first year of operation, with additional savings in later years. Because electricity in Illinois is deregulated, per the law of supply and demand, Illinois residents and businesses can benefit from reduced electricity costs because the Rock Island Clean Line will significantly increase the amount of electricity supplied to Illinois.
RICL has failed to produce any reports or studies to back up its claim that it will reduce prices by $320 million. Until RICL backs this up with figures, it’s pure fiction. Any “savings” would be temporary as markets stabilize. In addition, if RICL opens new supply lines for electricity into PJM, it could cause prices to rise over the long term as cheaper electricity flows to pricier PJM markets.
Q: Can I grow crops or build anything under the transmission line?
Transmission lines can prevent aerial spraying and irrigation, and construction can damage drainage tile and compact soil. Transmission lines can also interfere with GPS equipment. So, the answer is that you can try, but you probably won’t be very successful without extra cost and effort.
A: Clean Line will acquire easements, but the land will still belong to the landowners and can be utilized for activities such as farming, grazing cattle, and other activities that do not interfere with the operation of the line. Farming of row crops can continue under the lines. There will be sufficient clearance under the transmission line to grow full-height crops, not including tree crops, and to operate standard farm equipment. Clean Line Energy must comply with the National Electric Safety Code and North American Electric Reliability Corporation Standards to ensure the safe and reliable operation of the transmission line. Landowners will still own the land, including the burden of paying property tax on the portion containing RICL’s transmission line.
Clean Line estimates that the right-of-way needed for the Rock Island Clean Line to meet operating standards will be between 145 to 200 feet wide; however, the line will directly impact much less land than that. Property taken out of production by the transmission line foundations will typically comprise less than 1% of the easement property. Written by Texas wind speculators, not farmers. Read with skepticism. Q: Will landowners be compensated if the transmission line is on their property? A:
Yes. Clean Line Energy is committed to compensating landowners fairly. There are three primary components to landowner compensation: an easement payment, structure payments, and payments for damages. The total amount of compensation for landowners who have structures on their property will be more than 100% of fair market value of the easement area.
The easement payment is based on the area of the easement, calculated in acres, and the fair market value of the land within the easement. Fair market value is determined through a market study of recent sales in the county. Clean Line will pay 90% of fair market value of the easement area. How will “fair market value” be determined? Most likely by an out-of-state appraiser who will never visit your property but will research land sales in your county and calculate an “average” of selected land sale prices to apply to your unique land.
Structure compensation is calculated based on the type of structure and the number of structures. The landowner may choose to receive either a one-time payment or a series of annual payments. Annual payments will be made as long as a structure is on the easement. The annual payments range from $500 to $1
,500 per structure or the one-time payment ranges from $6,000 to $18,000 per structure. Depending on the land, and other engineering conditions, we expect 4-6 structures per mile. Other payments may be made for damages in certain circumstances such as crop damage, soil damage, irrigation or drainage interference. Who determines “damages” and their value to the landowner? Do not sign any agreements with RICL without first consulting an attorney and tax advisor of your own choosing. You do not have to accept what RICL is prepared to offer. You may write your own compensation contract, or simply hold out and watch RICL’s offers rise the closer you get to an eminent domain condemnation proceeding. Eminent domain is an expensive, time-consuming process RICL doesn’t want to engage in. The landowner holds all the cards in negotiation! Q: How will Clean Line address impacts of construction to farmland? A:
Rock Island will work to prevent and repair agricultural impacts associated with the construction process. Rock Island will work with landowners to identify drainage tile locations prior to construction and minimize impacts to such tile. For damages that cannot be avoided, Rock Island will decompact soil, repair or replace field tile, and take other steps as needed. Rock Island will compensate landowners for damages incurred as a result of construction or maintenance on their property. Rock Island has also committed to pay for crop damages due to construction and crop damages that may occur due to maintenance associated with the transmission line.
Rock Island Clean Line has an Agricultural Impact Mitigation Agreement with the Illinois Department of Agriculture that discusses these measures. This agreement details the extensive efforts Clean Line will make to mitigate impacts to agriculture. The Agreement is incorporated as a part of the easement agreement Rock Island Clean Line will present to landowners. Unless all these promises are put in writing within the four corners of your signed and recorded contract with RICL, they are nothing but empty promises. In addition, which party will determine damages and define the effectiveness of repairs? Don’t trust your land to empty promises by out-of-state limited liability corporations!
Q: Will Illinois benefit from construction jobs and tax revenues from the Rock Island Clean Line?
A: Illinois will benefit from the Rock Island Clean Line in several ways. The line will be a $600 million investment in Illinois providing local jobs and tax revenues and bringing a new low-cost clean energy resource into Illinois.
Rock Island is committed to using qualified local and regional contractors whenever practical
to construct and maintain the transmjssion line. Examples of local jobs resulting from the construction of the line include surveying, silt fence construction and pouring concrete. Rock Island has selected Kiewit Power to provide construction management services for the project. Kiewit cannot and will not perform the construction of the 500 mile line on its own. Kiewit has substantial expertise with using local labor and local services to assist with the construction of major infrastructure projects. Kiewit also has significant experience working with landowners to minimize the impacts of construction to existing land use and to return land to pre-construction condition. Rock Island is dedicated to preserving the productivity of farmland. Kiewit's like-minded commitment to these goals is one of the reasons we've selected them for this project. Rock Island Clean Line has also committed to using multi-craft union labor. Ask if RICL or Kiewit have signed any legal contracts to use local/union labor. We are not aware of any. It would be prohibitively expensive for RICL or its contractor to have to negotiate with surveyors, concrete companies and silt fence installers in every town along its 500-mile length. Expect that these services will be subcontracted to another entity that may or may not employ local labor for very short term projects. RICL is committed to constructing its project as cheaply as possible, and that includes the price of labor.
While RICL may pay a minimal amount of property taxes on its infrastructure in your county, it will have a greater impact by devaluing properties to result in a lower assessed value that translates to a lower tax base to support the same level of county services.
Q: Will Rock Island use eminent domain?
A: Rock Island intends to reach fair and reasonable voluntary agreements to acquire easements from landowners, allowing plenty of time for discussion. Rock Island has not applied for eminent domain from the Illinois Commerce Commission at this point and does not intend to do so unless and until all reasonable, voluntary efforts at easement acquisition are exhausted. RICL will not “apply for eminent domain” from the Illinois Commerce Commission. The ICC is not a court that can condemn property and take it through eminent domain. Only a court and jury of your peers in your own county can determine the amount of compensation you will receive in an eminent domain taking.
RICL claiming it does not intend to “apply” for eminent domain unless you refuse its offers is not giving the landowner a choice of whether to sell, it is a threat to agree, or else.
Rock Island has applied for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) from the Illinois Commerce Commission to operate as a public utility in Illinois. This is a requirement under Illinois law in order to construct and operate a transmission line in the state of Illinois. It is also necessary to have a CPCN prior to seeking eminent domain; however, as stated above, Rock Island does not intend to apply for eminent domain unless and until all reasonable, voluntary efforts at easement acquisition are exhausted. A grant of CPCN and public utility status from the ICC is the power to take your property “for public use” through the courts by use of eminent domain. No further action before the ICC by RICL would be necessary.
Q. Will Rock Island take farm land out of production?
A: Rock Island will acquire easements, but the land along the route will still belong to the landowners and can be utilized for farming, hunting, and other activities that do not interfere with the reliable operation of the line. Less than 1% of the easement area that Rock Island Clean Line is seeking will be permanently taken out of agricultural production, due to the footprint of the transmission structures. If a landowner grants an easement for the project, RICL will control the landowner’s use of the entire easement in perpetuity.
We have carefully developed a compensation package that includes an easement payment and structure payment which, when combined, will compensate landowners at or beyond 100% of fair market value of the land that comprises the easement area.
Q: Will the Rock Island Clean Line transport wind energy? Or will other fossil fuels be transmitted over the line?
A: The Rock Island Clean Line starts in an area of northwestern Iowa that has some of the best wind energy resources in the country. Wind energy is the energy resource that makes economic sense to be developed and shipped over the Rock Island Clean Line. There are other areas around the country that are better suited for the development of fossil fuel power plants - areas that would not require the developer to pay the additional expense for transmission that Clean Line will charge wind companies that choose to ship power over our line. RICL is no different than “mine mouth” fossil fuel generation plants that burn fuel where it’s harvested and ship electricity via high voltage transmission lines to point of use. This same centralized generation and transmission method has been in use for more than 100 years. However, technologically advanced, small-scale, point of use generation, such as roof-top solar, is now revolutionizing the way we produce and use electricity and is seen by the utility industry as a “threat” to their longevity. Clean Line is a dinosaur that may never be used.
Legally, transmission companies are not allowed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to prohibit certain types of energy, but as a practical matter, wind energy is the resource that would be economically advantaged by a project like this. It would not make sense to build a fossil fuel power plant a long distance from a where the power is needed, when a developer could choose to produce the electricity much closer to the energy demand.
Fossil fuel generators have been building generation plants near fuel sources and shipping the electricity produced long distances to points of use for 100 years. Clean Line would be no different. If there is a cheaper way to produce electricity to be shipped via Clean Line, that is the kind of electricity that will flow across the lines. It also does not make sense to produce electricity from wind in Iowa and ship it to the east coast, when the east coast has a better wind resource in the Atlantic, located just 12 miles from load centers!
Q: Did east coast governors write Congress a letter opposing the Rock Island Clean Line?
A: No. In 2009, ten eastern governors did write a letter to leaders in Congress regarding renewable energy development. The governors speak to their support for renewable energy and to their opposition to subsidies
for transmission lines for remote renewable resources. That’s right! And RICL is one of those remote renewable resources that depend on transmission lines that the governors opposed in their 2010 letter! The letter opposed “..subsidizing distant terrestrial wind resources which would stifle economic recovery and growth in the East…” and perfectly describes RICL! But there were actually TWO letters, one in 2009 and one in 2010.
The proposal referenced in their letter for such subsidies was not passed into law. The letter is in fact fully supportive of projects like the Rock Island Clean Line, as the Rock Island Clean Line is not receiving any federal subsidies. In fact, the letters opposed projects like RICL.
2009 letter Read it for yourself.
2010 letter Read it for yourself.
The governors' letter was written and sent prior to the start of development of the Rock Island Clean Line and does not mention the Rock Island Clean Line. In the letter, the governors "support the development of wind resources for the United States wherever they exist" and highlight their desire for a level playing field for renewable energy development. The Rock Island Clean Line is consistent with that level playing field for which the governors advocate in their letter. RICL has taken great liberty with the above quote from the 2009 letter. In its entirety, here’s what the quote said, which is the exact opposite of the meaning ascribed to it by RICL:
“Current legislative proposals focused on transmission, in contrast, would designate national corridors for transmission of electricity from the Midwest to the East Coast, with the costs for that transmission allocated to all customers. While we support the development of wind resources for the United States wherever they exist, this ratepayer-funded revenue guarantee for land-based wind and other generation resources in the Great Plains would have significant, negative consequences for our region: it would hinder our efforts to meet regional renewable energy goals with regional resources and would establish financial conditions in our electricity markets that would impede development of the vast wind resources onshore and just off our shores for decades to come.”
The truth is that “states farther east” do not want or need RICL. If RICL is permitted by the ICC and built in Illinois, the landowners and ratepayers of Illinois may be stuck with an expensive, unneeded dinosaur! Say no to RICL and its dishonest portrayal of facts.
Looks like one of those "what doesn't belong" puzzles, doesn't it? Unfortunately, it's not.This story comes from Gentry, Arkansas, home to the Wild Wilderness Drive Through Safari. AEP's engineer drew a transmission line through a portion of the safari on his power line routing etch-a-sketch
. Perhaps the engineer didn't understand that a drive through safari means that there are wild animals roaming loose through the area? Or maybe he just doesn't care. After all, he's not the one who may be eaten by a lion while constructing this project.
The people of Gentry have taken up the fight to save or replace the portion of the safari that will be made useless by the new 345kV power line running through it. See their website here
.AEP says they can't move the power line out of the park because the route has already been approved by the PSC. Instead, they are dragging the safari owner (a former AEP employee who didn't initially object to the route for fear of retaliation) through expensive and contentious eminent domain proceedings that will exceed the cost to AEP of simply filing a revised route at the Arkansas Public Service Commission. It's pure and classic utility behemoth stupidity, where the tail regularly wags the dog
.Instead, AEP is trying to fix things through intimidation and censorship. Local media has been avoiding this story because they also fear retaliation from AEP. Hey... AEP... censor this... :-)In addition to efforts to effect a media blackout, AEP has been cyber stalking the community members leading the movement to save Safari 4. One of them recently found this notification when logging into her Linked In account.
There's no reason a "Manager of Public Relations and Communications" at AEP would be looking at this woman's profile, except for the fact that she started a petition to save the Safari. Why, AEP, WHY? Why are you cyber-creeping on this woman? Planning to use her professional information for future intimidation? Or is AEP's manager just some kind of random cyber-creep doing his dirty deeds on company time and with company equipment?Can't you just see the inter-office memo that may have gone out last week?To: All AEP Transmission Employees
From: Nick Akins, CEO
Subject: Cyber-stalking Opponents of Our Projects
It has come to my attention that some of you have been gathering information for our AEP transmission project opponent dossiers while signed in to your personal Linked In accounts that bear your job title and AEP's logo. Please be aware that your profile views show up on the opponents Linked In pages! In the future, please make up a fake Linked In profile to use for AEP-authorized cyber-stalking. I suggest using the name Neil Peart, drummer for the band Rush. He's way, way cool and I want to be just like him when I grow up!
Remember: Safety and Transparency First!
Embarrassed yet, AEP?
You should be. What do you think the jury hearing the safari eminent domain case next week is going to think of your heavy-handed tactics?
The smartly renamed RTO Insider brings us word of a new feeding frenzy that has erupted at PJM:
PJM’s first competitive transmission project under FERC Order 1000 attracted proposals from five utilities and three independent developers.
The proposals – to correct stability issues at Artificial Island, home of the Salem and Hope Creek nuclear plants, in Hancocks Bridge N.J. – ranged from a new 230 kV line and station (estimated cost $54 million) to two new 500 kV lines (a projected $1.5 billion price tag).
Ever seen one of those TV clips where sharks go berserk feeding on the incapacitated corpse of a helpless animal
? The similarities are stunning. Transmission builders are hungry
for new projects where they can plunk down their "transmission spend" and spin the Wheel of Regional Cost Allocation and Incentive Returns to win big!RTO Insider provides a run down of the proposals and a link to the July 10 PJM TEAC slide deck
with more details and maps of each proposal (beginning on page 61). I'm loving the way that RTO Insider makes the job of babysitting PJM so much easier for me! No more random, inconvenient urges to go wade through PJM's webmaze
to see what's new, and then going through all the trouble of running my find through the geek translator. RTO Insider does all that for you! Go get yourself a subscription now
... because if you don't, I may know something you don't.According to the RTO Insider's proposal list,
all the proposals for Artificial Island include new transmission lines of various sizes.It's just colorful lines on a map right now, isn't it? It looks like someone at PJM had fun with their mouse and an RGB color chart, drawing proposed transmission lines across Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey.Reality Check: Each one of those lines runs through hundreds or thousands of backyards. Real people, real property, real lives. Will PJM spend any time contemplating the people whose way of life they are blithely sacrificing for the needs of others? Will PJM consider the likelihood of opposition, environmental considerations, land values, or the welfare of affected individuals when choosing the winning proposal?
Will PJM notify the affected communities that there is a problem that needs to be solved by building new transmission lines in their area? Will PJM consult with the communities to allow those possibly affected by the new project to weigh in on the proposal that is selected?Of course not! What do you think this is, a transparent democracy?
PJM will make its selection based on cost, or engineering, or other considerations (like which transmission company schmoozes best). And then the winning bidder will begin planning their project and greasing the proper palms, carefully keeping their plans under wraps until they are ready to pull the rip cord and hold their public "open houses." At that point, the transmission owner tells the people that the mysterious, unseen, regional transmission authority has ordered the company to build this project across the peoples' land and that there's nothing the transmission owner or the people can do about it. The transmission owner's hands are tied and the peoples' fate is sealed! What a load of crap!These front-loaded fait accompli approaches never work. The people will always want to backtrack to where the decision to build the transmission line was made in the first place. They want to determine for themselves that there truly is no other option.
Meanwhile, the transmission owner pours buckets of ratepayer cash into astroturf front groups, dishonest TV commercials, smarmy land agents, political palm greasing, and celebrity spokeswhores, trying to convince the people, and ultimately the state regulators, that the project really is needed. There's got to be a better way.Good luck with that, PJM.Residents of Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey -- we'll get to know each other real soon, won't we?