Remember when the U.S. DOE's triennial "congestion studies" under Sec. 1222 of the Energy Policy Act were a big deal? That was before the 4th Circuit told them that a state's denial of a project was not a "failure to act" that triggered federal intervention to usurp state authority to permit a transmission project. And that was before the 9th Circuit vacated the "corridors" the DOE designated in 2009 because of DOE's failure to consult with affected states. What's left behind is a useless section of statute that doesn't actually DO anything except waste taxpayer money on ridiculous "congestion studies" that do nothing but compile unverified data and opinion from the internet and the industry to inform the DOE's designation of future "congestion" corridors. Now when DOE issues one of its "reports" (three years past the deadline, or maybe it's on time and DOE just skipped the 2012 report) it's so anticlimactic that nobody knows about it.
And that's what happened with DOE's 2015 Report Concerning Designation of National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors. Big nothing. In fact, it was so uninteresting that DOE didn't even bother to send notice to all the folks who commented on its draft that it had completed its study. An astute commenter just happened across it.
Despite the industry's urging to continue attempting to use this tool to usurp state authority to site and permit transmission, or to simply delegate its authority to create corridors to transmission builders, the DOE decided not to designate any new corridors. Seems they have lost their taste for it after the beat down they suffered in federal court.
So, isn't it time to do away with this waste of taxpayer money? How much did this limp "report" cost to create? Congress needs to reconsider this mandate in any new energy legislation. It's a waste of time and money.
DOE's got issues. I note that this "report" appears to be the agency's recommendation to the Secretary on the designation of new corridors. I guess that would make it an "internal deliberation" that should be swept under the rug and hidden from the public? Maybe that's what the lack of notice was about? How come DOE is making this "internal deliberation" available to the public, but hiding its "internal deliberations" regarding Clean Line's application under Sec. 1222 of the Energy Policy Act? Something really stinks at DOE. They're operating like they are somehow above the public scrutiny and transparency that our federal agencies are bound to operate under. It's just one big taxpayer funded, opague industry party. And that spells trouble down the road the next time DOE finds itself in federal court over its industry-sympathisizing machinations of the Energy Policy Act.
So, let's toss Sec. 1221 on the failed legislation heap, but save room on the pile for Sec. 1222. It's coming.
When does cleaning up your dirty habits turn into an even bigger problem? When you're beleaguered dirty energy maven Duke Energy, and you try to profit from cleaning up your mistakes. And the folks in the western Carolinas are having none of it.
Duke's audacious plan is to shut down a 368MW coal-fired generator in North Carolina, replace it with a 650MW gas-fired generator, then build a new 230kV transmission line from the upgraded plant to a new super-sized substation in South Carolina so it can ship out all that excess generation for big profits.
Except the good people of North and South Carolina have come together to oppose the project. And they don't seem to be getting the least bit tired, or distracted by Duke's efforts to divide and conquer them by fomenting local routing battles between neighbors.
Word is that Duke had to fast-forward its initial routing comment period after it received more than 9,000 comments in just a few short months. What's going to happen when 9,000 people show up to oppose Duke's plan during regulatory commission hearings?
Get more information, and sign on as a supporter, at the website of the Carolina Land Coalition. Becoming a supporter is free, and you don't have to be from the local area. You just have to have a healthy skepticism for any utility's plan to overbuild generation and transmission to fatten its own balance sheet.
More fun to come...
What's been happening in transmission news this week? The Virginian Pilot
took a look at Dominion's Skiffes Creek 500kV transmission project... and it sort of looks like the project itself is up the creek. Dominion has lots of excuses for why it needs to build a ginormous transmission line across the James River, but none of them are exactly logical. Skiffes Creek is not really the only option to ensure reliability, it's just the one that regional grid planner PJM Interconnection approved a long time ago in an uncompetitive environment. If the transmission project is not approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, then PJM will have to go back to the drawing board and re-engineer another solution to what it views as a reliability problem.
Gotta wonder... if this problem was put out for bid in PJM's new competitive transmission process, would other companies have better solutions? Solutions that solve the problem without creating an eyesore and river hazard of an aerial crossing of the James River? Probably.
Dominion contends that the technology doesn't exist to run a reliable line of the caliber and kind needed under 4 miles of riverbed - at least not without a price tag in the billions.
Oh, baloney, Dominion! Take a look at the Artificial Island project
that is proposed to cross underneath the Delaware River just a couple states to the North. When transmission solutions are evaluated in a competitive environment, a submarine crossing suddenly becomes viable, not only from a cost standpoint, but also with an eye toward "constructability," a measure of the ease of getting a project approved and constructed with minimal opposition. In the case of the Artificial Island project, PJM ultimately selected a proposal by LS Power that uses a 3.5 mile submarine crossing of the river in which the company capped its construction costs
. Dominion needs to re-evaluate its submarine options.
The Skiffes Creek project is a cash cow for incumbent utility Dominion. Under PJM's old, pre FERC Order No. 1000 transmission project selection process, the incumbent was allowed to propose all solutions. The incumbent could propose only those solutions that would provide a healthy shot to its balance sheet. FERC recognized that this process didn't necessarily inspire the best and cheapest solutions and has revolutionized the way regional grid planners select new transmission projects.
Dominion tries to hide behind an aura of concern for ratepayer issues.
Curtis said the Skiffes over-the-river plan, at $60 million, is indeed on the lower cost end of the dozens of routes and options the company considered. Whatever the expense, though, customers will reimburse Dominion. Rate hikes are automatically allowed for utilities that build infrastructure to strengthen the grid.
"So these are rate-payer dollars, not Dominion dollars," Curtis said. "But the opposition is still committed to the conspiracy theory."
Curtis tells only part of the truth here. The part he leaves out is that Dominion will be earning a double-digit return on its $60M investment in the project over its useful life of approximately 40 years. The more the project costs, the more Dominion makes in pure profit. Dominion is hardly agnostic about ratepayer costs. Also, if Dominion had to compete to build this reliability solution, it would face giving up this potential profit entirely to another company with a cheaper, less intrusive proposal. There IS a conspiracy... because the investment is Dominion's dollars, not ratepayer dollars. And Dominion earns a healthy return on every dollar it invests in this project.
So, are there other solutions? Opponents accuse Dominion of not examining and considering all options.
"What's frustrating is that people think we're being disingenuous," Curtis said. "They don't believe we've looked at all the alternatives, or they think we're only concerned about making the most money for our shareholders."
The article reveals
Several lines already feed outside power to the Peninsula, but it won't be enough without the Yorktown plant, which Dominion says is too costly to upgrade in the face of new federal clean-air standards.
Did Dominion consider upgrading and rebuilding the existing lines to increase capacity before settling on an entirely new transmission line? C'mon, Dominion, you're no stranger to this plan... after all, your plan to rebuild the 500kV Mt. Storm-Doubs transmission line to increase its capacity is what killed the entirely new 300-mile PATH transmission line. Or are much cheaper rebuilds only considered when Dominion finds itself in a competitive environment?
How much time and money will Dominion's effort to keep itself from being propelled "up the creek" with Skiffes Creek cost ratepayers? Dominion's blind pursuit of this project in the face of better alternatives is what may cause "rolling blackouts" on the peninsula. The longer Dominion delays by backing a lame horse, the closer the peninsula gets to a genuine reliability issue. Get with it, Dominion, and switch to a solution that everyone can agree upon. Don't you have a legal obligation to keep the lights on? Or only one to increase shareholder dividends every quarter?
...or maybe we should call it a lesson in identifying good guys vs. bad guys?
Hey, Feds, your right hand should introduce itself to your left hand.
This article in Vista Today
informs that FERC bad boy Rich Gates will apply for a "Whistleblower" reward from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for his work in exposing Credit Suisse's "dark pool" after the penalty is announced. Gates estimates he could be in line for a reward in the neighborhood of $5 - $15 Million.
Meanwhile, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has fined the other Gates twin $30M for alleged "market manipulation" for exposing a loophole in PJM's poorly designed energy markets.
So, if Rich Gates takes in $15M from the SEC, could he use that money to pay off part of the FERC's $30M fine (assuming FERC can make it stick in court)? I'd say that's some pretty smart money management!
Next up... will Disney be making a good twin vs. bad twin flick starring Rich and Kevin Gates? This story has been done many times over, but I think some government employees might relish the chance to prance across the big screen as cartoon characters set to an inspiring theme song and cymbal-crashing, energizing score.
Rich can play the "good" twin, who developed tests of buying and selling the same security in numerous dark pools or exchanges to see if anyone was getting in front of client’s trades, as chronicled in Michael Lewis's book, Flash Boys.
Kevin can play the "bad" twin, who performed a similar test of PJM's MLSA payment market and ended up making money that would have gone to certain gigantic utility holding companies if not for his participation in the market and exposure of PJM's poor market design.
But, wait, which twin is good, and which twin is bad? They sort of look the same to me. Like maybe identical? Both twins demonstrated that they were much smarter than the regulators who are supposed to be monitoring both markets. Maybe it depends on where in the federal government you're standing when you blow your whistle. By offering a reward for whistleblowing, the SEC demonstrates that it could actually be helped by those who expose things the agency wasn't smart enough to catch. On the other hand, FERC punishes those who expose things they weren't smart enough to catch. I don't think FERC offers any rewards for exposing utility scams. In fact, it punishes those who expose incumbent utilities, dumb market design, and lazy regulation.
But now it can all end well, like it did in Disney's The Parent Trap, when the twins switch places and the SEC reward pays FERC's penalty... and they all live happily ever after.
My challenge partner, Ali Haverty, reminded me this morning of a Facebook meme
we shared months ago. It's a photo of two owls on a branch, and says, "Sometimes I just want someone to hug me and say, 'I know it's hard. You're going to be okay. Here is chocolate and 6 million dollars.'"
And that's what we got. Of course, the 6 million dollars belongs to the 61 million ratepayers in the PJM region. Our personal share is probably about a nickel.
On Monday, FERC ALJ Philip Baten issued his ruling on the PATH case that was heard back in the spring.
Ali and I were seeking the refund of just over $6M in expenses for the purposes of influencing the decisions of public officials that PATH incurred and recovered from PJM ratepayers in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Judge Baten ruled that all of the expenditures were not recoverable in PATH's rates and must be refunded.
This is my favorite part:
As a general proposition, the cases that are discussed above suggest that when utilities are seeking selection or CPCN approvals from governmental entities, the utilities should rely on the established governmental approval processes to persuade the officials and not indulge in collateral efforts such as public education, outreach, and advertising activities. If a utility should rely on these collateral activities while pursuing selection or CPCN processes, then it will risk the chance that these costs may not be recovered from ratepayers. If the selection or CPCN application has merit, the governmental selection process provides a sufficient vehicle for the utilities to present their engineering, marketing and economic studies and thereby hope to merit the vote of approval from these officials. In this regard the PATH Companies spent over $8 million on attorney fees to prosecute the CPCNs before the respective governmental bodies, which begs the need for these collateral expenses.
The judge's decision must now go before the Commission, who may affirm or deny, in whole or in part. That decision is several months down the road, at least, and requires another round of briefs.
Meanwhile... more chocolate. And champagne. And music. Let there be music!
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:
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 change.org
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.
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?"
“All our other grant awards come with letters of congratulations, including reporting requirements and specifications on how the funder would like to be recognized in Rec Center publicity,” she said, noting that the CCJCA award “came with no such letter.”
Morann said her board had recommended “that we apply for it (the CCJCA grant) and then wanted to see what the conditions were.”
“We were never able to discern the conditions” and whether they included giving public support to the CCJCA and Northern Pass, Morann said, “and after the check had been cut and I attended the ceremony at the request of the board of directors, the board met (Thursday) and decided to return the money.”
Grants are made for specific purposes
, and usually the grant funder requires the recipient to make some demonstration that the grant funds were used for grant purposes, not simply pocketed for personal profit, or spent on things unrelated to the grant program.
There's lots of press about Eversource sprinkling "grant" money around the proposed route of its transmission project.
But, of course, there are no strings attached to the money.
The money came by way of the Coös County Jobs Creation Association, which was created by Eversource, formerly known as Public Service of New Hampshire.
John Gallus, who chairs the Coös County Jobs Creation Association and is a former state senator and representative from Berlin, said there were absolutely “no strings attached” to the CCJCA awards, other than they be used to create or keep jobs in Coos County.
While Eversource is the financial resource behind it, the jobs creation association is independent, said Gallus, who is disappointed that the recreation center returned the grant.
“They knew where the money came from,” Gallus said. “The grants aren’t based on how anybody feels about Northern Pass and nowhere on our application did it say you had to sign up to great feelings about Northern Pass. We would give money to the biggest opponent of that project if they were creating jobs in Coos County.”
But if there are no instructions, and no reporting requirements, how will the "Coos County Jobs Creation Association" ensure that the money is actually spent creating jobs? More importantly, HOW is the money supposed to create jobs? Will it fund a bunch of temporary, make-work "jobs" that aren't supported by any economic need in the county? How many permanent jobs would actually be created?
Is the "Coos County Jobs Creation Association" actually a legal entity that files an annual tax return? Or is it just an informal conduit to funnel this money into the community? Ut-oh, rabbit hole ahead!
The Coos County Job Creation Association is registered with the State of New Hampshire, to further the objects and purposes of the promotion and support of job creation for the growth and prosperity of the cities, etc. of Coos County. However, the organization doesn't seem to be registered with the IRS, or to have filed a tax return for 2014. How does New Hampshire keep track of its "non-profit" corporations if they don't file tax returns?
Even curiouser, there already seems to be an organization in Coos County that serves the same purpose. The Coos Economic Development Corporation has been in existence for many years and its purpose is to promote economic growth that fosters a strong and diverse workforce, sustainable employment, and a thriving business community in Coos County.
The documents show that a past president of CEDC was one of the initial directors of the CCJCA, but seems to have been omitted from the CCJCA's most recent annual state filing.
Why does Coos County need two separate non-profits doing the same thing? No wonder the Rec Center seemed uneasy and gave the money back.
Anyhow... the $200,000 in "grants" that the CCJCA has handed out with no strings attached, are just the tip of the iceberg, an appetizer if you will, for the $7.3M more the CCJCA will receive if the transmission project is approved and built.
Eversource has awarded grants to improve cellular service, and in founding the jobs creation association, it provided the entity with $200,000 in seed money while also pledging $7.3 million more if and when the transmission project is approved and built.
So, if Coos County wants more, it would be in its interest to make sure the project gets approved and built? No strings attached, of course.
How did Eversource "pledge" this additional funding? Is there a written legal agreement that this money will change hands? And I notice that Eversource also "founded" and "created" the CCJCA, according to this news source. If that's so, why is Eversource not mentioned anywhere in the company's Articles filed with the State of New Hampshire?
There's big money to be had for communities that support invasive infrastructure projects, not just in New Hampshire, but nationwide. It's an opportunity for those not directly affected to throw their neighbors under the bus for a little scratch, as long as the project is "not in my backyard." This reverse-NIMBY scenario causes unrest and bickering in the community, and pits neighbor against neighbor. It's divide and conquer in its purest form, often engineered by out-of-state corporations for their own profit. Greed is an enticing motivator.
And, finally, one organization stands up and says no. Bravo! There's a lesson to be learned here by other communities who care for each other and the long-term well-being of their community as a whole, and not their own immediate personal gain.
There ain't no such thing as a free lunch. How much is your personal integrity in the community worth?
Stop being dumb about energy, America!
The average person doesn't think twice when they flip the light switch. The lights come on. It's magic! No, it's not, but the energy corporations have made you believe it is over the years.
Now the energy corporations have made you believe something else that's just not true. All but the most flat-earth cretin believes in global warming, right? It's politically correct to be environmentally conscious, and to "do your part" to save the earth. The corporations have trained you to want... CLEAN ENERGY NOW!
Under the guise of CLEAN ENERGY NOW! the energy corporations have made you a soldier in their CLEAN ENERGY NOW! army. You've become so good at marching to the beat of their drum, that you'll support just about any energy project they propose, as long as they tell you it will bring you CLEAN ENERGY NOW! They've even brainwashed you to serve their purposes in their campaign against "dirty" energy. Fossil fuels are "bad" and CLEAN ENERGY NOW! is "good"!
Well, guess what? You've been used. Isn't it high time that you educate yourself about democratic energy and wean yourself off the media mind control of the energy corporations? What if you had the power to produce energy for your own use? But let's be realistic... unless you want to live with the capital costs and inconvenience of running your own power plant, you're still going to be somewhat dependent upon the common infrastructure system that the energy corporations have built. What happens when the wind stops blowing, or the sun goes down? The light switch magic stops, and you're once again dependent on the energy corporations. We've yet to develop a cost-effective, reliable, renewable, democratic energy system. That doesn't mean we can't be smart about energy though. Indeed, it's imperative that you to be smart about your energy future.
Think having your CLEAN ENERGY NOW! provided by energy corporations is a responsible and thoughtful way to be smart about your energy future? It's not. There are better ways to get to a cleaner, more democratic energy future than simply moving from one corporate trough to another.
If we believe that coal, oil, and gas are bad sources of energy and work toward eliminating the corporations that cling to them, what shall replace them? Do we want to replace them gradually with local, democratic sources of energy? Or do we want to spend billions building new centralized energy sources for our CLEAN ENERGY NOW! corporate overlords? The environmental community has become so goal-oriented and dependent on grant money (and where does grant money come from? energy corporations, of course!) that it wants CLEAN ENERGY NOW! at any price. The wants of the environmental community do not align with democratic energy, or your pocketbook. Going all in on CLEAN ENERGY NOW! supplied by energy corporations is going to be wildly expensive, and at the end of the day, it does nothing to revolutionize the way we produce and use energy.
After fighting the traditional energy corporations for years, the environmental community has suddenly found itself in bed with a bunch of new energy corporations, CLEAN ENERGY NOW! corporations. And these new corporations stand to make a bundle if you continue to demand CLEAN ENERGY NOW! in any form. Many of the new energy corporations are owned by foreign interests. They're not interested in cleaning up your air, they're interested in making money building centralized renewable energy generation and transmission for a society practically shrieking for CLEAN ENERGY NOW!
One such company is Clean Line Energy Partners. Riding the CLEAN ENERGY NOW! wave, this company wants to build more than 2,000 miles of new energy infrastructure across the country. In order to get there, Clean Line has been trying to keep you stupid by repeating the worst renewable energy lies. The more times a lie is repeated, the more it's believed. It's time you learned the truth.
- The best wind energy resources are located in the middle of the country.
No, they're not. Clean Line is using the wrong map, one that conveniently omits offshore wind potential. Here's a comprehensive map that shows true U.S. wind energy potential
. Notice that the strongest winds are located just offshore on both coasts and in the Great Lakes, conveniently near the biggest population centers. We don't need 2,000 miles of new transmission to harvest these wind resources.
- Population centers are demanding clean energy from the Midwest.
No, they're not. While Clean Line has been pushing its projects for six years, not one eastern utility has signed an agreement to purchase Midwest wind power via a "Clean Line." In fact, other areas of the country are busy developing their own renewable energy resources that can provide jobs and economic development at home.
- Exporting wind energy brings jobs and tax revenue to Midwestern states.
But at what cost? Wind power is highly subsidized, both federally and at the state level. Wind farms may pay little in the way of taxes in your state or locality, because the state is so focused on jobs and economic development that it may make a deal to abate tax responsibility for a number of years, hand out additional state tax credits, or some other economic development scheme where the wind farm doesn't pay. The federal production tax credit allows big tax credits - $4B per year, according to some recent press. Who do you think pays that $4B of taxes that wind generators don't? You do. When electricity is sold across state borders, it becomes interstate commerce and cannot be taxed. Exporting energy causes your local energy prices to go up through the simple principle of supply/demand. Once you open new pipelines to ship energy to higher priced markets, that's where locally produced energy will go first. If you want some, you're going to have to pay the same export price. For every penny new transmission lowers east coast energy bills, it raises yours by the same amount. New transmission levelizes energy prices between source and use. New transmission lines lower the taxable value of real estate, meaning less local property tax revenue. Still think new transmission is a good deal for your community? Why?
- Clean Line will build its transmission lines in "fallow" or empty spaces not currently generating income.
No, it won't. Clean Line is proposing to build its transmission lines across some of our best farmland. Farmland is already economically useful terrain
. New transmission takes prime farmland out of production and increases the cost of farming around it. Lower yields and higher costs lead to lost agricultural jobs and revenue, and harms local economies. Clean Line is proposing its transmission lines to cross farms that have been in production for centuries. People live and work on these farms that have been handed down through many generations. Much of a farmer's wealth is wrapped up in his land, so it's not a stretch to compare Clean Line's eminent domain taking of farmland to dipping their hand into your retirement fund. How much of your retirement would you donate to CLEAN ENERGY NOW!
? The highest and best use of this land is farming.
- Transmission right-of-way payments are a highly sought-after source of income for farmers, so supporting transmission helps struggling farmers.
No, they're not. Paying "market value" for a strip of land through a larger parcel devalues the entire parcel, not just the strip of land. Nobody wants their land devalued... nobody. The payments offered by CLEP are insulting. Farmers have overwhelmingly rejected CLEP's offers. That is proof in itself. Clean Line's projects hurt struggling farmers, the same way having your retirement account cleaned out to provide energy and economic development to other states would hurt you.
- Transmission is like a highway or a railroad.
No, it's not. There are already plenty of transmission "highways" in use, developed through a coordinated planning process and paid for by all electric ratepayers. If these highways are old or inefficient, then they should be upgraded by their owners. Building a new "railroad" next to an existing one is wasteful. Building a new "railroad" and not allowing the communities bypassed to use it is unfair. Building new "railroads" to places that nobody wants to travel, and then hoping that some customers develop, is a folly.
- State denial of a transmission permit can be appealed to the federal government.
No, it can't. States have full authority to site and permit transmission within their borders. There is no federal override. However, an untested section of the 2005 Energy Policy Act allows the federal government to "participate" in a privately-funded transmission project sited within the set geographic reach of two federal power marketers. When the federal government participates, it may be able to use federal eminent domain to take land for the project from unwilling sellers. That's it. Bundy Ranch on steroids. There is no federal transmission permitting process. Clean Line wants the federal government to strong arm land acquisition, and then it plans to build its projects without permits of any kind.
- Clean Line is privately funded so ratepayers won't have to pay for it.
All transmission is privately funded! There is no pot of "public" money used for other transmission projects. It's all private capital! All transmission projects are paid for by ratepayers (users). Other transmission projects are regulated and their profits are set by regulators. Clean Line will be unregulated -- its profits are set by market forces. Clean Line will charge users whatever rates it can get away with. The sky's the limit on Clean Line's profit, no wonder it's attracted big, foreign investors who believe the incredible riskiness of Clean Line is overcome by huge returns. While regulated transmission projects must submit their costs to public scrutiny, Clean Line can roll whatever costs it wants into the rates it charges for service. Every penny Clean Line spends on lobbying and influence, public relations and front groups, pulled pork and bouncy houses, will end up in the rates it charges. And who pays those rates? Whoever buys the energy transmitted over the line, possibly you!
We have been conditioned to believe that we must demand CLEAN ENERGY NOW! without taking the time to examine why or how, thinking a fairy tale image of a couple of wind turbines gently turning in a field of golden grain. We've been taught that this fantasy is a "good" way to control our energy future.
It's not. It's simply a way to transfer corporate energy control from one group of owners (fossil fuel companies) to another (clean energy companies). It enables them to collect billions keeping you captive and stupid about energy. Renewable energy isn't necessarily sustainable energy. Sustainable energy does no harm to others. Clean Line's plans are unsustainable and economically harmful. Take ownership of your energy future and seek out local, sustainable solutions. Break the energy corporate chains, America!
The Public Service Commissions of both Delaware and Maryland have filed a complaint
at FERC over PJM's new transmission cost allocation process, specifically the cost allocation of PJM's Artificial Island transmission project. Under PJM's cost allocation rules, ratepayers of Delmarva Power in Maryland and Delaware would pay nearly 90% of the cost of the project, which is intended to improve transmission from the Salem/Hope Creek nuke in New Jersey. However, Delmarva customers will receive only 10% of the benefits flowing from the project.
Whoopsie, PJM! Your formulas still don't work! Didn't FERC's Order No. 1000 determine that costs would be commensurate with benefits? And didn't the 7th Circuit remand your prior cost allocation method TWICE because PJM and FERC couldn't show a correlation between benefits and costs?
It seems that PJM and FERC still haven't gotten it right on cost allocation. And the legal battle is just beginning. This could muck up PJM's cost allocation process for the transmission it orders up for years! As a result... transmission won't get built. Nice going, knuckleheads!
We have yet to see a massive transmission build out intended to ship renewables thousands of miles in an attempt to subvert state planning for compliance with the Clean Power Plan. Expect problems there, too! After all, not every state is going to receive the same kind of benefits from long-distance transmission that passes through in an attempt to meet the CPP goals of a different state.
I guess that's what happens when "regional" and federal interests attempt to overrun state regulators. This complaint is going to be interesting and eat up a lot of ink. Woo Hoo!