... and this one goes to Sprouse!
We're still living in America, where money apparently can't buy everything. And that's a cheery thought!
The Kansas City Star continues its excellent coverage of the Grain Belt Express debacle in the wake of yesterday's denial of the project by the Missouri Public Service Commission.
The Star focuses on impacted Missouri landowner Loren Sprouse, who, along with his brothers, operates a farm in Caldwell County. Read the article and watch the video here.
A week before the vote, Loren Sprouse — along with two brothers, he farms land in Caldwell County that’s been in the family since 1919 — said of Grain Belt: “This is a giant land grab by a huge company. They (Clean Line) are a private, for-profit company trying to masquerade as a public utility.”
After Wednesday’s vote, Sprouse said: “Now we can get back to the important business of feeding America.”
Clean Line Investor Corp. is a subsidiary of ZAM Ventures, L.P., which is one
of the principal investment vehicles for ZBI Ventures, LLC. ZAM Ventures, L.P. has a consolidated net worth of $500 million based on U.S. GAAP measurements. ZBI Ventures,
LLC is owned by Ziff Brothers, a multi-billion dollar family investment fund.
The Order stopped short of revealing how much of this particular $500M chunk their multi-billion dollar fortune the Ziffs have invested in Clean Line's struggling projects, but Clean Line's recent application to the Illinois Commerce Commission revealed
it's in the neighborhood of $70M. That's nearly 1/5 of ZAM's fortune tied up in Clean Line with no hope of recovery if the projects fail. Maybe this will give the Ziffs some empathy for the Sprouse brothers, who stand to lose a huge chunk of their
investment if the project is built.
And let's think about that for a second... how much potential profit is in these projects for the Ziffs if they're willing to invest such a huge chunk of their fortune? Will they recoup their entire investment if only one of Clean Line's five projects gets built?
So, who watched the Missouri PSC meeting yesterday? It was lovely of Mike Skelly and Mark Lawlor to choose seats that put them within range of the streaming video camera. Everyone got to watch them lose! Here's what it looked like:
Schadenfreude? You betcha!
Skelly originally took his classic "arms folded" defiant pose while Lawlor awkwardly stood in the doorway with a hang dog expression. I guess someone told them that their body language was unbecoming for the occasion, because Skelly switched to the "hands tightly clasped between his knees" pose and Lawlor sat down to take notes. Although, in this shot, it looks like Lawlor is about to bolt from his seat and run screaming from the room.
So, what did Clean Line have to say afterwards? It took forever for them to issue a press release (because the victory one they probably had prepared ended up in the shredder). Clean Line says:
...there appears to be some confusion at the Missouri Public Service Commission about how the project will benefit Missourians.
Confusion? Hardly. The MO PSC's Order was clear as a bell. It weighed the evidence and made a decision that actual benefits to the general public from the Project are outweighed by the burdens on affected landowners.
Who does that Clean Line? Who calls a state regulatory board "confused" when they don't get their way? This isn't boding well for another application down the road...
The profit-seeking needs of the Ziff Brothers were outweighed by the burden the project proposed to the Sprouse Brothers.
What a great thought as we celebrate America this weekend!
And let's end with a final photo of Mike and Mark, who finally managed to have a word with each other as the meeting was ending. What do you suppose they said?
The Beckley Register-Herald published a spot on editorial last week regarding the captive West Virginia PSC's continual rubber stamping of utility rate increases.
The editorial lambasted the PSC for not even bothering to act like they care to listen to public commentary.
At a hearing last week in Beckley, one citizen clearly believed the PSC acts more as a rubber stamp for the utilities than an advocate for the people. His notion was not hindered by a PSC staffer who was perceived to be texting or playing with her phone throughout the meeting.
The editorial points out that at some point, the continued advancement of utility bill increases are going to meet the immovable object of consumer ability to pay.
In the past, the PSC has shown little concern about consumers, except to scam them with "consumer rate relief bonds" designed to simply hide huge rate increases with slick PR campaigns and additional financing fees.
The WV PSC must balance the interests of consumers with those of utilities. Simply denying a rate increase needed to keep the utility solvent isn't an option.
What's a regulator to do?
Break those utility chains that bind you, Commissioners! Instead of being lead around by the utilities like a monkey on a leash, how about leading for a change? We're only going to get a handle on utility rate increases when regulators start acting like regulators and stop acting like utility sycophants.
Only when regulators use their authority to lead utilities can true balance happen. Perhaps our Governor should start appointing Commissioners with the proper skills, instead of appointing his cronies to the PSC as political favors.
It's about time!
Clean Line President Michael Skelly told a reporter the other day:
“There’s also a chance we might abandon the project,” he said.
Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it!
Let's all encourage Skelly to finally do the right thing.
ABANDON GRAIN BELT EXPRESS!
He's done it again. Former FERC Commissioner Jon Wellinghoff recently spilled some more "confidential" FERC secrets.
This report by the DOE IG says that Mr. Wellinghoff showed an excerpt from a video of a FERC Office of Enforcement (OE) interrogation... err...deposition of an "unnamed" electricity market trader to the audience at an industry conference in March.
The video was supposed to illustrate how not to behave in front of regulators. The IG says the video "
was meant to demonstrate that the witness portrayed in the clip was being evasive and uncooperative, arguing over such things as the meaning of the words 'from' and 'to' in the context of email communications."
Except this video wasn't publicly available, until Mr. Wellinghoff shared it.
Mr. Wellinghoff disagrees.
So, what's to be done about this? Shall we shut the barn door now that the horse has gotten out and crapped in the garden?
Apparently. The IG's report recommends:
- Determine if the former Chairman violated the Confidentiality of Investigations requirement and ascertain what, if any, sanctions are available to address the former Chairman's actions.
- Determine if the Commission currently has the necessary authorities it needs to prevent the disclosure or misuse of sensitive or nonpublic information; and, the authorities to impose sanctions on those who engage in such action, whether employed at FERC currently or in a postemployment status. If statutory or regulatory changes are needed in this regard, take appropriate action to expedite such changes.
- Expedite the current effort to update and strengthen the Commission's postemployment guidance and exit processes, including ensuring that departing Commission members and other employees are aware of what constitutes "nonpublic information" and their ethical duty to protect such information after they depart.
Sanctions? Don't laws covering this already exist?
5 CFR § 2635.703
§2635.703 Use of nonpublic information.
(a) Prohibition. An employee shall not engage in a financial transaction using nonpublic information, nor allow the improper use of nonpublic information to further his own private interest or that of another, whether through advice or recommendation, or by knowing unauthorized disclosure.
(b) Definition of nonpublic information. For purposes of this section, nonpublic information is information that the employee gains by reason of Federal employment and that he knows or reasonably should know has not been made available to the general public. It includes information that he knows or reasonably should know:
(1) Is routinely exempt from disclosure under 5 U.S.C. 552 or otherwise protected from disclosure by statute, Executive order or regulation;
(2) Is designated as confidential by an agency; or
(3) Has not actually been disseminated to the general public and is not authorized to be made available to the public on request.
Example 5: An employee of the Army Corps of Engineers is actively involved in the activities of an organization whose goals relate to protection of the environment. The employee may not, other than as permitted by agency procedures, give the organization or a newspaper reporter nonpublic information about long-range plans to build a particular dam.
18 USC § 2071(b)
(a) Whoever willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, or destroys, or attempts to do so, or, with intent to do so takes and carries away any record, proceeding, map, book, paper, document, or other thing, filed or deposited with any clerk or officer of any court of the United States, or in any public office, or with any judicial or public officer of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.
(b) Whoever, having the custody of any such record, proceeding, map, book, document, paper, or other thing, willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies, or destroys the same, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both; and shall forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States. As used in this subsection, the term “office” does not include the office held by any person as a retired officer of the Armed Forces of the United States.
18 USC § 641
Whoever embezzles, steals, purloins, or knowingly converts to his use or the use of another, or without authority, sells, conveys or disposes of any record, voucher, money, or thing of value of the United States or of any department or agency thereof, or any property made or being made under contract for the United States or any department or agency thereof; or
Whoever receives, conceals, or retains the same with intent to convert it to his use or gain, knowing it to have been embezzled, stolen, purloined or converted--
Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; but if the value of such property in the aggregate, combining amounts from all the counts for which the defendant is convicted in a single case, does not exceed the sum of $1,000, he shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
The word “value” means face, par, or market value, or cost price, either wholesale or retail, whichever is greater.
Well, ut-oh. Wellinghoff just doesn't look like the prison type to me. I hope he knows how to rap. Survival, man!
But don't worry. Nothing like that ever happens to the important people. And I'm sure Mr. Wellinghoff won't be fined... oh... say... $30 million or anything.
It simply can't happen again because Mr. Wellinghoff has lost his secret cache of FERC videos in a computer crash.
According to the memorandum, Mr. Wellinghoff stated that his computer "crashed" and all of his documents were permanently lost. A Commission attorney who participated in the March 20 telephone call told us that Mr. Wellinghoff had indicated his computer crashed in February 2015 and that all of his documents were lost. However, we were told that Mr. Wellinghoff used a personal computing device to show the video clip during the March 9 presentation, despite having told Commission attorneys that all of his documents were lost due to the computer crash. Thus, despite Mr. Wellinghoff's assertions about the loss of materials in February 2015, the events of March 2015 suggest that additional documents may remain on other personal computing devices. We were unable to reconcile this inconsistency. Despite multiple attempts on our part, Mr. Wellinghoff declined to speak with us regarding this matter.
However, Wellinghoff did become "available" to speak with the press
What I want to know is did current Chairman and former OE Director Norman Bay give the video to Wellinghoff when the investigation that spawned it was active? Did this happen before Mr. Wellinghoff would have had to make a decision in the case (which never got that far because it settled)? Or was it shared afterwards, when Wellinghoff wouldn't have been influenced by it? How many hours of the video deposition do you suppose Wellinghoff watched to find that particularly entertaining scene? Or was the excerpt the only part he saw? Is that what passes for entertainment at FERC? Watching investigation targets squirm on video? I thought it was about protecting consumers?
Doesn't seem like Wellinghoff cares one bit. That hard-knock life stuff never happens to people like him.
The trade press is its own little microcosm in the media world. This special interest, subscription only, business model dares to call itself "media." However, the real bread and butter of trade press is selling outrageously expensive subscriptions to its target industry. And the trade press likes to keep its "trade" happy. Because, like, if you tick off your readers, they might cancel their subscription! So the trade press tells them only what they want to hear... happy, happy, happy... media censorship. If you make your subscribers look like heros in every story, they will keep buying your drivel, even if they don't believe it.
Just below trade press on the "truth in media" scoreboard is the mainstream media. Their survival depends on entertaining the masses with what ever version of news it thinks they want to hear. A lot of the time, mainstream media content is created by corporations.
And then you've got your regional or local news outlets, which is probably the first place you're going to see balanced stories that, well, tell the whole story.
So, I came across this teaser piece by trade press outlet Electricity Policy Today. If you want to read the whole "story," you need to pay for a subscription. But, for illustrative purposes here, we don't need anything more than this teaser.
Electricity Policy Today seems quite surprised that Clean Line's Grain Belt Express is "stalled at the MO PSC." The article gushes over the fact that "hundreds of rural landowners" (and yes, they use those quotes, like it's some kind of distasteful being) have risen in opposition at the Legislature and in PSC hearings. They finally reveal to their readers that the opposition is strong and successful and relied on representative democracy, grass-roots activism and landowner rights to score their victory. But they are quick to bookend that with threats from GBE project manager Mark Lawlor to take his "west-to-eats wind power line" (see, I can do it too, and make fun of your editorial failure at the same time!) to the Feds and beg for them to override Missouri's decision.
That's the way it always happens. Opposition has to work 10 times as hard as corporations to get mainstream media attention. Sometimes they even have to stage a news-worthy event or stunt to get any attention. Of course, that's a very thin line to walk -- attention without making yourself look ridiculous. In the sanitized trade press world, you're pretty much locked out altogether... unless you win. Then they talk about your victory in surprised tones.
And there they are: The "trade" guys, scratching their heads and wondering how it was possible to get their butts kicked so hard by an industrious group of plebeians.
"Wha? What happened? We were supposed to win! How did that happen?"
We happened, you dolts!
Because, you know, you really can't eat wind after all. Thank a farmer at your next meal.
A long time ago, when I held the purse strings of a certain corporation, I used to have a sign on my office wall. It said:
Lack of planning on your part
does not constitute an emergency on my part.
I'd point to it with regularity when various co-workers would show up with requests to issue checks outside the normal, weekly, computerized process (yes, friends, they had did have computers back in the dinosaur days!). The rules were that I would run checks once a week. If someone needed a check issued, they had plenty of time to get their invoices or requests in before the deadline. Invariably, some sales-critter would show up after the deadline with some payment request that absolutely, positively HAD TO be done right now. *point to sign* Bite me.
I have little sympathy for people or companies who fail to plan according to existing rules.
Clean Line thought it was so cool that it was certain to overcome any obstacles that the existing rules could throw in its path. The naysayers brought up any number of problems with Clean Line's business plan, including the fact that utilities are unlikely to stick their neck out to contract with non-existent generators using a non-existent transmission line. No customers, no construction loan for the transmission project. It's not rocket science here. Clean Line should have listened to what the transmission industry was trying to tell them. Smug is sometimes really hard of hearing.
And here we are. Those existing rules that Clean Line thought would be easily scaled have turned out to be not only higher hurdles than originally thought, in most cases they are simply insurmountable.
Clean Line didn't plan according to the rules, so now they want to pull their projects out of the toilet by changing the rules. Whether it's federal eminent domain authority (after state authority failed), or the regional transmission planning process that doesn't fit Clean Line's business plan, Clean Line thinks that the rules should be changed to accommodate their business plans.
Been wondering why we haven't been joined by any Clean Line opposition groups from southwestern states? Because Clean Line didn't bother to check the CAISO rules before dreaming up a transmission line from New Mexico to California. Seriously, who does that?
And who sends off letters to the editor calling for a complete reform of CAISO when they don't even have their basic facts straight? Love the editorial question mark here...
As California moves beyond its 33 percent Renewable Portfolio Standard goal [?--Ed.] and strives for deeper reductions in harmful emissions...
Meanwhile, back at Clean Line headquarters....
I've been trying to keep my nose to the ol' grindstone and ignore the calliope music coming from PJM's "Annual Meeting"
in Atlantic City
. But it's really hard to ignore it when a clown scampers across your computer screen before you've even had your morning coffee.
I started my day today with the latest issue of RTO Insider. I figured it went well with coffee and would be a pleasant way to wake up before going back to work on something that matters. I love RTO Insider almost as much as chocolate donuts!
Bowring, Gates’ Consultant Spar over PJM Traders’ Obligations on Loopholes
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — To shake or not to shake the Money Tree?
That was the question Independent Market Monitor Joe Bowring posed during his Year in Review presentation at PJM’s Annual Meeting last week, setting off a lively debate with one of the consultants that Richard and Kevin Gates, enlisted in their high profile defense against market manipulation allegations.
“If the rules are imperfect, is it OK to do anything not explicitly prohibited?” Bowring asked.
He quickly provided his own answer. “It is not permissible,” he said, citing what he called the “duty” of market participants to inform RTO officials and federal regulators of such “money trees.”
Is this rule supposed to apply equally to every entity FERC regulates? Doesn't Bowring realize that utilities routinely exploit "unclear" rules in order to pocket a little extra scratch? If regulated utilities had a duty to report all their "misinterpretation" money trees to FERC, we're going to need a couple more hotlines. Of course, if the utilities are so busy self-reporting all their shakes (or kicks, flicks, and karate chops) of the "money tree," they might not have time to "accidentally" misinterpret any rules that result in a profit for their shareholders, would they? Or will they simply have to hire new monkeys to shake the tree, while the old monkeys watch and phone in a report to FERC's hotline?
Utilities large and small routinely interpret FERC rules in incorrect and bizarre ways in order to squeak some additional profit from them. Except FERC never fines its utility pets $30M when they get caught breaking the rules. It's all giggle, giggle, hush, hush, slap my wrist, I promise to be good if you overlook this little "misunderstanding." FERC needs to tighten that shit up and adopt Bowring's "Money Tree Methodology" for everyone!
I do so admire Bowring's enthusiasm. You go, sport! I hear there's going to be a vacant spot on the Commission soon! Maybe you should be Chairman?
What do you suppose caused Bowring's money tree epiphany? Do you suppose he participated in the "Spa Toccare"* leisure activity in order to relax and clear his mind before giving his report to the membership?
Whatever you do, don't click on the clown picture above.
No, don't do it!
Well, that would explain things then. Thanks a lot, Joe, for making me snort with laughter before the coffee was even ready to drink.
*Dedicated to undoing the effects of your day, Spa Toccare offers relaxing treatments guaranteed to exhilarate. Here, tensions melt, knots disappear, skin glistens and eyes sparkle. A new you emerges just in time to wave bye-bye to your worldly cares.
Journalists are trained to be independent reporters of the facts. The readers are supposed to take those facts and form their own opinion. But what happens when a "journalist" tries to spin her opinion as "news?"
"Clean Line receives pocket approval from legislature."
On the heels of lawmakers voting to reject a House bill designed to stop the Grain Belt Express Clean Line project, Michael Skelly, President of Clean Line Energy, visited a Ralls County site of a Grain Belt Express Clean Line’s delivery station, a $100 million facility that proponents say will allow Missourians to receive low-cost, clean power from the Grain Belt Express Clean Line.
The Grain Belt Express Clean Line is a proposed electric power line that will deliver competitively-priced renewable energy to Missouri. The House Energy and Environment Committee voted down House Bill 1027, which would modify provisions relating to eminent domain powers of utilities, on April 28. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Frankford, who represents Monroe, Lincoln, Pike, and Ralls Counties.
“With the vote this morning, Missouri lawmakers have demonstrated that they stand behind market based solutions to bring low-cost, renewable energy to the state,” said Mark Lawlor, Director of Development for Clean Line Energy. “The Grain Belt Express Clean Line will deliver enough low-cost clean power to Missouri through a direct connection to the electric grid to power 200,000 Missouri homes. We look forward to continuing to work with landowners and community members to develop the project in Missouri in a collaborative way. This project is very important to Missouri’s energy future.”
At the hearing on the bill, supporters spoke of the benefits that the Grain Belt Express Clean Line project would bring to the state and asked legislators to block HB 1027.
According to the Legislative Drafter's Deskbook: A Practical Guide
, a "pocket approval" happens when the President does not sign a bill, but fails to return it to the legislature within 10 days. In that case, it becomes law through "pocket approval."
Is that what this reporter meant? That HB 1027 became law because the President failed to return it to the House? Or is this reporter just desperate to include the words "approval" and "Grain Belt Express" in a headline?
There was no "approval" for Grain Belt Express in Missouri. The legislature does not have authority to "approve" a transmission project. "Approval" can only come from the Missouri Public Service Commission, and the Staff of the MO PSC just last week reaffirmed their recommendation that the PSC DENY APPROVAL for Grain Belt Express.
This headline is simply the reporter's opinionated fantasy. The only thing that actually happened at the legislature is that Clean Line's expensive lobbyists managed to twist enough arms to prevent legislation supported by the people from passing. Big deal... there's always next year!
The reporter conveniently skips over the fact that GBE won't provide ANY energy to Missouri that is not purchased by an actual utility that serves electric load in the state. Evidence at the PSC indicates that there are no utilities stepping up to purchase electricity from GBE's Missouri converter station.
The article also claims: "Grain Belt Express project moves process forward, receiving public support."
Moves forward? Forward to where? GBE is still stuck in the Molasses Swamp waiting for a decision on its application from the MO PSC. It's not going anywhere.
And where's the proof that GBE has any "public support?" The evidence at hand indicates that GBE is receiving record public opposition. This is backed up by the fact that when "Mike" Skelly called a recent press conference at a field in Ralls County, the only "supporters" who showed up were brought in by GBE from many miles away. On the same day, the Ralls County Commission re-iterated its opposition to GBE, no matter how much of a company man their assessor wants to be in the media.
Here's Block GBE MO's press release that reflects what REALLY happened:
Two Counties Clarify Opposition to Grain Belt: Chariton and Ralls Legalize Letters of Rescission
Texas based Clean Line Energy, that hopes to build a 750 mile high voltage-transmission line across the state, just hit another snag. Five out of eight counties crossed have now officially rescinded permission for Grain Belt Express to access their county. In Missouri, each county and the Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC) must grant permission to erect any towers.
The staff of the Missouri PSC recommended denying Grain Belt last fall. They stated “Grain Belt Express has not shown it is needed, economically feasible, or promotes the public interest in Missouri”. They also stated, “Section 229.100 RS Mo precludes Grain Belt from building its proposed line without first obtaining the consent of the County Commission in each of the eight counties in northern Missouri where the line would be located.”
Grain Belt questioned the validity of the rescission letters from two counties that were written in the summer of 2014. They stated that Chariton County’s letter had not specifically withdrawn section 229.100 authority or permission to build.
They also stated that Ralls County had said they would consider granting franchise only after the commission approved Grain Belt. Because the county must give permission for the PSC to grant a certificate it created a chicken and egg situation. Grain Belt asked for the Certificate of Convenience and Necessity first and promises to get the consent of each of the counties afterwards.
In response, both Chariton and Ralls County submitted new letters to the PSC to reiterate that Grain Belt does not have permission to build transmission lines in their county.
Ralls County’s new letter reads, in part, “Accordingly, if our grant of authority of August 23rd, 2012 to Grain Belt Express was valid, the County Commission does hereby rescind and revoke any authority granted that date to Grain Belt Express."
Wiley Hibbard, Presiding Commissioner of Ralls County stated, “I, as well as the other two Commissioners in Ralls County, felt it was important that we should restate our opposition to GBE's application to the PSC.
"By pure coincidence, we chose to send our letter to the PSC on the same day GBE held a press conference in Ralls County. It is my understanding that no landowners from Ralls County attended. GBE had to bring a person in from a county many miles away to speak to the press. This will show Grain Belt and the PSC that landowner's rights are very important to the citizens of Ralls County.”
Jennifer Gatrel of Block Grain Belt Express Missouri stated, “We are delighted that five out of eight counties have withdrawn their permission. We are very hopeful that the Missouri PSC will quickly deny Grain Belt and allow landowners to resume our lives."
A reporter who purposely misstates the facts to promote a corporate agenda does so at the peril of her own reputation.
Let's get the profitable infrastructure project party started!
A landowner from southeast Iowa today said he has recorded proof a land agent for the proposed Bakken Pipeline offered to get him an 18-year-old prostitute if he’d grant access rights to his property so the pipeline may pass through.
Hughie Tweedy of Montrose said he recorded two of his conversations with the land agent.
“On these recordings you will hear evidence of my senior pipeline representative offering me not once, not twice, but three times the sexual services of a woman,” Tweedy said, “the last time being a $1200 teenage prostitute.”
“If anybody knows of anyone who’s been dealt with unfairly,” Boeyink says, “get the names to me and we will deal with it swiftly.”
I'm thinking Boeyink didn't move too "swiftly." Or maybe he's been a whirling dervish but simply can't keep up with the unsavory activities of his hired land agents.
Whether it's offering ponies and prostitutes to landowners in exchange for easements, or pizza parties and puppy chow to college students in exchange for signatures on petitions of support, buying public support for infrastructure projects is big business!
And who do you think is first in line for the free cheese?
“If an old junkyard dog like me was offered the sexual services of little girls to get my hackles down, I wonder what was offered to the powerbrokers of this state to gain their support for silence,” Tweedy said. “Shame, shame, shame.”
Can't add anything to that wisdom.
While up to my elbows in dirt yesterday, I got a little buzz on my phone telling me that PJM had awarded the Artificial Island project to... LS Power. I laughed -- loud and hard. If you laugh in the garden, and nobody is around to hear it, did you really laugh? Or do your neighbors simply think that you've finally gone off the rails?
PJM's Artificial Island project window has been fraught with problems from the get-go. The RTO initially awarded the project to one of its favored incumbents, but was set upon by other competitors who made a convincing case that the process was not competitive.
PJM hired some wacky "constructability" study to try to prove that its selection was based on the ease with which the project could be constructed. That was a big waste of money. The study failed to note the single, most-important reason projects get delayed -- public opposition! Opposition is directly related to routing and the physical impact of the project, and the way its public relations are handled -- the worse the transmission developer does
at this, the bigger the resultant opposition. That's a big, big factor in "constructability."
PJM got schooled on what "constructability" really means.
And the project PJM ultimately selected makes an underground crossing of the Delaware River and avoids protected wildlife refuges.
Lesson learned, PJM?
Here's your "constructability" checklist, for future reference:
1. Does this project make use of existing infrastructure that could be upgraded or rebuilt to lessen impact of a new right-of-way?
2. Can this project be buried along existing or new rights-of-way?
3. Can this project be avoided entirely with non-transmission alternatives?
4. What alternatives are there to the project that you can share with the public?
If these things are truly considered, you could avoid the worst part of public opposition and win the "constructability" war.
It's also of note that LS Power proposed a cost cap for its project. LS Power now has a firm budget for its project. If it exceeds budget, it's going to have to justify why and beg on bended knee to recover its overruns. A cost cap also acts as a performance standard. If LS Power doesn't perform to get this project built on time and within budget
, it does so at its own peril.
Let's hope the cost cap is also a lesson well-learned by PJM. It's what Congress intended when creating financial incentives for transmission
, and cost caps effectively end the "the more we spend, the more we make" attitude so pervasive in the transmission industry today, to the benefit of electric ratepayers.