The PSC staff
, the Consumer Advocate
all filed testimony in the General Investigation of the company's billing and meter reading practices on Friday. While a satisfactory solution could possibly be cobbled together from the staff and consumer advocate testimony, they both overlooked the obvious.
The change in meter reader duties and the resulting employee exodus was a direct result of Allegheny Energy's merger with FirstEnergy. The computer system change was a direct result of the merger. The "renumbering" of meter reading routes was a direct result of the merger. None of these causes of (excuses for?) FirstEnergy's billing and meter reading failure would have happened but for the merger.
FirstEnergy told the WV PSC that "...the Merger would not have any adverse impact on Allegheny, the West Virginia customers of Mon Power and Potomac Edison, other public utilities in West Virginia, or the public in general, Rather, Joint Petitioners projected that the Merger would result in a stronger combined company and would benefit the public generally, the WV Subs, and Allegheny’s West Virginia customers."
This is reality: FirstEnergy's merger integration has caused great harm to hundreds of thousands of its West Virginia customers in the form of inaccurate bills. These bills resulted in financial hardships and service shutoffs. End of story. It is now FirstEnergy's financial responsibility to right its wrongs and make amends to its customers.
From the FirstEnergy merger settlement (not that any of these stipulations have been enforced by the PSC):
During the Merger integration process, FirstEnergy and Allegheny will review existing procedures and policies to determine “best practices” and how to implement them, ensuring that customer benefits appropriately outweigh the associated costs and considering any related effects on customer service and customer satisfaction levels.
FirstEnergy failed to "consider" the effects of its failure to read electric meters on customer satisfaction. Customers are so thoroughly disgusted with this company and its regulators that a mere slap on the wrist and promise to do better just aren't going to cut it.
The WV PSC staff fails to grasp the real causes and magnitude of the problem. The Consumer Advocate does better, but both of these regulators have only seen the tip of the iceberg. The failure to read electric meters has been going on since the fall of 2011, shortly after the merger. The high "catch up bill" complaints actually began in the spring of 2012, months before any "storms." "Storms" is just an excuse.
The staff also seems to fail to grasp that no matter which estimation routine is used, FirstEnergy's estimations will be inaccurate because they are based on inaccurate prior estimates. A weather-adjusted estimate based on garbage is still going to be garbage, no matter how much FirstEnergy or EPRI tweak it. No amount of mathematical tweaking can overcome a lack of accurate base data.
Although the staff seems content to wait and see if the inaccurate estimates trigger another billing charlie foxtrot this winter, I'm not. I'm going to start handing out staff's phone number because I've heard and seen enough. The inaccurate bills continue. Perhaps the WV PSC would rather let the legislators solve this problem through their own investigation and enactment of new legislation?
As well, none of the regulators seem to notice or care how FirstEnergy is fudging their monthly statistical reports.
And isn't it interesting that FirstEnergy keeps slipping down the slope toward reading every meter every month? Just last month, the company admitted that it had selected "several thousand" accounts for monthly reading. In its testimony filed Friday, the number of monthly read accounts has ballooned to 10,000. Give up, FirstEnergy: Every meter, every month, one year.
So, what can we do to cobble together something good out of the recommendations in the testimony?
- The Consumer Advocate recommends "...that the Companies increase their number of meter readers in order to perform actual reads every month for at least a year to obtain 12 months worth of actual reliable data for every customer. Once there is reliable customer usage data, it can be determined whether there are systemic problems with the new FE software estimation procedures that should be addressed." However, it should be stipulated that the company bears the financial responsibility for the monthly read expenses and that they shall not be recovered from customers nor included in any cost of service study for a future rate case.
- The Staff recommends "If a customer’s scheduled actual meter read is instead estimated for any reason other than demonstrable inclement weather or Federal or State Emergency Declaration, the customer shall receive a refund of the applicable customer charge for each month estimated usage occurs between utility performed actual meter readings. Applicable customer charge means the tariff customer charge for the customer’s class of service. For example, a residential customer receiving three (3) consecutive estimated meter readings would receive a $15 credit on his next actual bill." However this should be applied retroactively from the date of FirstEnergy's merger and refunded to customers to act as a punitive measure to mollify public anger.
That's it! Can we stop screwing around here and just get this over with? I'm pretty sure that FirstEnergy and its regulators have wasted way more time and money on this investigation than the company would have incurred to simply fix the problem months ago by reading meters every month. It's simply obvious.
Six New England governors signed an "energy agreement"
the other day. The rest of the world has been trying to figure out what the agreement means ever since. The governors commit to continue to work together to accomplish a whole bunch of contradictory goals:
- investments in additional energy efficiency, renewable generation, natural gas pipelines, and electric transmission
- balance intermittent generation, reduce peak demand, and displace some of the least efficient and most polluting fossil fuel generation
- meet clean energy and greenhouse gas reduction goals
- improving the economic competitiveness of our region
- advance a regional energy infrastructure initiative that diversifies our energy supply portfolio while
ensuring that the benefits and costs of transmission and pipeline investments are shared appropriately among the New England States
- respect individual state perspectives, particularly those of host states, as well as the natural resources, environment, and economy of the States
- ensure that the citizens and other stakeholders of our region, including NEPOOL, are involved in the process
- consistent with laws and policies across the region
- investments in local renewable generation, combined heat and power, and renewable and competitively-priced heating for buildings will support local markets and result in additional cost savings, new jobs and economic opportunities, and
- maximize ratepayer savings and system integrity
- greater integration and utilization of renewable generation
- development of new natural gas pipeline
- maximizing the use of existing transmission infrastructure
- investment, where appropriate, in new transmission infrastructure
- inclusion of energy efficiency, and the addition of distributed generation, in load forecasting and transmission planning
- expand economic development, promote job growth, improve the competitiveness of our industries, enhance system reliability, and protect and increase the quality of life of our citizens
But Joel Gordes, a West Hartford-based energy consultant, said the regional approach toward addressing energy issues has a downside as well.
“This is a compact region, but each state has its wants and needs that are in conflict at times,” Gordes said. “If this leads to building more transmission lines across New England instead of focusing on other areas that decentralize energy production, like microgrids and solar energy, than I see this as something that weakens our safety net in the aftermath of some of the large storms we’ve seen. Distributed energy projects, like microgrids, would make us more resilient.”
But maybe it's just all about the money?
The goal of the agreement, which was announced jointly late Thursday by the governors, is to reduce energy costs in the region.
The agreement calls for the states to jointly determine how to spend billions of dollars in ratepayer money from all six states to develop additional transmission projects for both natural gas and electricity.
Connecticut, with the second highest electric rates in the region
, sees it as a way to reduce electric prices in the state. But, this would come at the expense of the other states, since Connecticut has a victim mentality about energy:
"...the commitment to an initiative that can support additional transmission lines to bring cleaner electricity into Connecticut is essential to reduce our carbon emissions and help mitigate the devastating impacts of climate change that we have felt so severely here in Connecticut.”
Connecticut has recently continued its moratorium on wind farms
, but yet it wants other states to build renewables and export the energy produced to Connecticut? No wonder their electricity prices are so high.
While Connecticut sees the agreement as a way to import energy it refuses to produce on its own, the sacrificial cow of New Hampshire (which is targeted as the host of Northern Pass to serve Connecticut's power needs) sees it as a step forward to prevent the ruination of its state for the needs of others.
[New Hampshire] Governor Maggie Hassan says the agreement - which she calls a "mission statement" - commits to expanding infrastructure like transmission lines and natural gas pipelines, which would help lower energy costs in the whole region. “But we want to make sure we do that in a way that really honors each state’s needs, and doesn’t disproportionately or inappropriately burden the people of any one state,” said Hassan in a cell phone interview on Friday.
The announcement comes at a time when the governors of Southern New England, with their more aggressive renewable energy goals, are especially concerned with rising energy rates. But some in Northern New England are worried about becoming a thoroughfare for renewable electricity destined for Boston and Hartford.
“I just think it’s a really positive an encouraging development,” said Hassan.
Well, that's about as clear as mud. I'm thinking this agreement is nothing but a publicity stunt and actually means nothing, except that ratepayers should be prepared to open their wallets once again.
The only thing that seems to be clear here is that New England doesn't want any of this:
Eat more sage grouse!
Scott at Ridiculous RICL blog
dug up a circa-2009 video
over the weekend that Clean Line Energy Partners' President Michael Skelly probably wishes would disappear. In it, Skelly says a whole bunch of things he probably wishes he had not, in retrospect. Too bad, so sad, we've found it now! And we're going to have lots of fun with it! Here's just one of Skelly's verbal faux pas:
In Wyoming, the industry was surprised when the governor came out and said this area of Wyoming is now off limits to wind energy and it's about 28% of the developable wind resources in Wyoming. That's a non-trivial amount This is one of the windiest states in the country, there's lots of projects planned in Wyoming, people are trying to develop transmission lines to Wyoming. People wrote off millions of dollars of development expenditures when this happened, including my old shop [Horizon Wind Energy]. Now you can make lots of arguments about why the governor made the right decision here. Some claim that there were more nefarious motives at work because the sage grouse, as many of you know, its a poster species for areas west of the Rockies.
And then he starts grinning like a lunatic. Apparently, species extinction of a cool bird is funny to uncool people like Skelly.
There's lots of concerns about sage grouse viability and so there are real issues here. The question is we're going to have to make some tough choices here... and some of these tough choices... and think about why we're doing this renewables stuff. We're worried about climate change. And we're worried about climate change because it might cause a massive species die-off. It's possible that along the way, we may have to make very tough decisions about which species are going to do well in this massive renewables build-out and which species aren't going to do well, and those are tough decisions that our current legislation... we don't really have a mechanism to sort of figure that out. That is a real question.
No, the real question is will Skelly's environmental group friends still love him after they hear about his plans for the sage grouse?
And what if there was a way to "do this renewable stuff" that didn't cause us to have to sacrifice people or animals? It's called distributed generation -- the development of small scale on-site renewables, such as adding solar panels to your own roof.
Otherwise, the sage grouse gets it!
I've been following the story of PJM's new capacity import limit via RTO Insider
over the past couple months. Last Friday, PJM made its filing with FERC to change an agreement and tariff to impose the new limits before the next base residual auction.
It seems there is a B-I-G problem with low capacity prices. In addition to causing havoc with incumbent generator profits, PJM has come up with other reasons to "fix" its capacity market.
First though, let's look at how PJM's capacity market works. Capacity is a generator's ability to produce electricity. This is unrelated to energy actually produced in real time. Because PJM has to make sure there is enough electricity available to meet peak demand every year, it secures capacity, or the ability to produce electricity, three years in advance. Generators submit capacity bids in the auction. PJM stacks the bids by price. Beginning with the lowest price, bids are accepted until the capacity target is met. The highest price accepted is the uniform capacity price paid to all generators whose bid cleared.
Now let's move on to imported capacity. Generators outside PJM have been bidding higher and higher amounts of generation into PJM's auction, often at low prices. PJM's rules have allowed imported capacity into the auction even though it has no firm transmission path to be used by load in PJM. This sets up a scenario where PJM has cleared capacity that may never be delivered. The effect of this is that PJM may not have enough capacity to serve peak load. It also creates an effect where it can lower capacity prices for other generators in PJM because acceptance of low bids of imported capacity lowers the high bid that sets the capacity price for all generators.
So, on the one hand, it's a reliability problem, but it's also an earnings problem for PJM incumbent generators. PJM believes that artificially lowered capacity prices created by generation that may never serve PJM load is also causing retirement of existing generators in PJM, as well as preventing new internal generation from being built. PJM's market is supposed to encourage new generation to develop when capacity prices are high, adding more supply to meet demand. Instead, it was getting fake bids from outside the region, and that has skewed capacity prices.
Maybe generation from other regions can supply PJM cheaper than existing internal generation, but who wants to rely on generators thousands of miles away to supply their electricity? The longer electricity has to travel between generator and user, the more unreliable the supply becomes and the more electricity is simply wasted by losses along the way. It's encouraging that PJM finally acknowledges these simple physics of electric transmission, but the challenge now is to see if this new found realization is going to have any effect on the midwest wind transmission gold rush.
PJM's new rules make an exception for any external generator with firm transmission service that can be controlled by PJM and agrees to PJM's "must offer" requirement. This still allows external generators like the hated Clean Line Energy to be excepted from the limit. However, Clean Line only has 700 MW of firm transmission service for one of its lines with a capacity of 3500 MW. This still doesn't make Clean Line imports any more reliable than other imports though, nor does it provide this merchant transmission company with any of the east coast customers forced to buy renewables at any price that it seeks.
Let's keep an eye on this one and see who intervenes and complains at FERC (Docket No. ER14-503).
Well, there they go again… the geniuses at FirstEnergy have devised another not so ingenious way to encourage you to pull their money-losing corporate keister out of the fire.
If you live in FirstEnergy's JCP&L or MetEd service territories, the company invites you to engage in some holiday excess that will put some excess cash in its own pocket. The company's "Merry & Bright"
Christmas lights contest invites you to create an electrical charlie foxtrot on your home and front yard that would put Clark Griswold
to shame and then "like" the company Facebook page
to enter a photo of your creation.
You could win a $250 gift card! I don't think the company accepts gift cards to pay your $250 Christmas lights extravaganza electric bill though.
Ho, Ho, Ho, Big Daddy Tony
needs a new Rolex for Christmas!
If you live in FirstEnergy's Penelec territory, run, don't walk, to your nearest Yankee Candle outlet.
Union buster FirstEnergy has lockedout union workers
after they refused the company's "best offer" during contract negotiations.
FirstEnergy plans to replace line and substation workers, meter readers, technicians and other employees with managers and supervisors. It's about time Toad Meyers completes his route
Ha ha ha ha, and they expect these do-nothings can keep the lights on?
Good luck there, Penelec customers.
"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
Well, isn't this cozy?
FirstEnergy is "sponsoring" a 2014 Legislative Outlook luncheon, and charging the people $15 a head to come talk to their elected officials.
Sort of lets you know who's in charge, doesn't it? FirstEnergy pulls the strings and the legislators line up like trick ponies at the circus... a circus that you must pay to attend.
In the wake of the FirstEnergy General Investigation of billing, meter reading and customer service practices of Potomac Edison and Mon Power, the WV PSC ordered the company "to address the substance of the complaints voiced at the hearings."
Yesterday, FirstEnergy filed its "address." Gotta wonder, does the PSC ever smack the regulated with a ruler and reject a homework assignment as incomplete?
FirstEnergy only "addressed the substance" of its own selective hearing of the public comments, not the actual comments. FirstEnergy only "addresses" what it wants to address, picking and choosing only the complaints that fit into its story line, and ignoring the rest. Go ahead, read the "report." Were your issues addressed? If not, please feel free to let the WV PSC know.
Don't let your time and effort at the public comment hearing be swept under the rug and dismissed by FirstEnergy! And, while you're at it, why not drop an email to Senator Herb Snyder and let him know how you've been tossed under the bus by the PSC and FirstEnergy. Be nice to Herb, he's on our side!
Mr. Glotfelty also noted that there could be circumstances under which the Grain Belt Project could find it necessary to depart from the cost recovery model described and instead seek cost recovery through regional or inter-regional cost allocation mechanisms.
Mr. Berry testified that while Petitioner currently has no plans to seek cost recovery for this Project through regional cost allocation, Petitioner is not in a position to make an irrevocable commitment not to seek cost allocation. He stated that such a commitment would be premature and would potentially go against the public interest. If regulations change in the future, an irrevocable commitment not to recover costs in a certain manner may compromise the ability of Petitioner to complete the Project.
Do you think maybe GBE isn't being completely honest with FERC? I do wonder how a situation that may compromise GBE is is against the public interest, if all project risk is being absorbed by GBE as a merchant transmission project?
GBE has presented an altered version of reality to FERC:
D. Public Outreach
Public outreach and active stakeholder involvement are key components of Applicant’s approach to development of the Project. Beginning in 2010, Grain Belt Express implemented an extensive, methodical, multi-level public outreach strategy across Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana, which has resulted in more than 1,000 in-person meetings across the Project area as of November 2013. Grain Belt Express also has maintained an active presence online and through social media. The Project’s website, www.grainbeltexpresscleanline.com, has been actively updated since the beginning of the Project in 2010. Among other information, the website contains: a project video that describes the need for the Project and how Grain Belt Express will bring significant economic benefit to states through much-needed transmission expansion for new wind energy projects; an FAQ section for all stakeholders to learn greater details about the Project; a section on how local businesses can learn about opportunities to participate in the construction of the Project; and information regarding Project meetings, maps, studies, regulatory filings, and third-party resources. In addition, Grain Belt Express distributes a newsletter on a regular basis to hundreds of stakeholders. These newsletters provide information on Project milestones, recent events and meetings, as well as upcoming Project activities. The newsletter is available to anyone who is interested in receiving a copy. Applicant’s participation in multiple state regulatory proceedings also has publicized information regarding the Project.
E. Project Schedule
Applicant continues to work closely with land use and routing experts as well as landowners, local government officials, state and federal agencies, and other stakeholders in the areas where the Project will be built in order to gather input and determine the specific route for the transmission line in each state that it will traverse. Applicant is consulting experts on topics such as threatened and endangered species, archaeology, and cultural resources to ensure that appropriate considerations are taken into account in the routing decisions. Applicant expects to obtain all necessary authorizations from federal, state, and local governments and agencies for the Project by 2016.
I think I might know a few landowners who feel they have not been "closely worked with." In fact, the affected landowners in Kansas were the LAST ones to find out about GBE's project. Some of these landowners feel they were not properly notified under Kansas law, and even when they found out, they were denied effective participation in a matter that granted GBE the right to take their land by force. GBE even admits that, according to their public outreach plan, landowners are the last to be notified, after environmental groups, business groups, elected officials, local governments, and potential suppliers. It is only after Clean Line has drummed up support for its project by schmoozing and making dubious promises that it springs the project on affected landowners. In this way, Clean Line hopes that landowner concerns will be smothered by the group of MIMPSYs it has created.
However, FERC has no jurisdiction to right any wrongs made in the state regulatory process because it has no authority over siting and permitting. But, the dishonesty is galling.
GBE also tells FERC that it will shoulder all financial responsibility and risk for its project:
Applicant is assuming all market risk associated with the development and construction of the Project, and Applicant does not have and will not have any captive customers. Accordingly, Applicant has no ability to pass through the Project’s costs to captive ratepayers.
Well, not really. GBE is passing some of its risk and cost associated with its project on to affected landowners and local governments who are expected to shoulder uncompensated project costs. Such costs may include the expense of providing public safety services during construction and operation, use of roadways for construction and maintenance, reduction in tax base, lowered property values, interference with farming operations, health and safety risks of living and working in close proximity to the project, inverse condemnation takings, lowered farm operation income, and increased costs to farm around the project, and the list goes on.
GBE also mentions that there are other planned regional projects that will provide price competition. These other projects that are ordered by RTOs are financed by, and guaranteed cost recovery from, ratepayers. Ratepayers are assuming all risk of these other projects. If GBE causes the competing projects to fail, ratepayers will end up financing the failed projects, for which they will never receive any benefit.
In addition, GBE is promising FERC that it will abide by the Commission's rules about honest and aboveboard negotiation with potential customers. If landowners believe GBE has not been honest and aboveboard with them, how can FERC trust that GBE will keep promises made in this application? Many believe that GBE has not developed a good reputation of honestly attempting to follow regulation in the public interest. In fact, some believe that GBE's reputation is that of smart alec arrogance, always trying to manipulate regulation in order to advance its pecuniary goals.
For instance, after promising Kansas regulators 135 "operations" jobs in the state related to its project, GBE tells FERC the truth:
Once the Project is completed, Applicant will turn over operational control of the Project to an RTO, which will operate the line pursuant to a FERC-approved non-discriminatory rate schedule filed under the RTO’s OATT.
There is no RTO located in Kansas.
GBE also asks FERC for permission to use special selection criteria to evaluate offers. Preference will be given to potential customers who are willing to make "deposits" and shoulder some of the cost burden. In this way, GBE may be discriminating against customers who are not in a position to invest in its speculative project. I'm not sure this is what FERC really had in mind as non-discriminatory.
Keep an eye on this one. It's going to be interesting.