And in its recent application to the Missouri PSC for its Grain Belt Express transmission project, "Clean" Line's Berry said that service from Missouri to Indiana on his project could be used to "provide opportunities for Missouri load-serving entities to earn additional revenue from off-system sales."
Cutting through the jargon, Berry says that his "Clean" Lines can now be used to ship fossil fuel generation. In its desperate search for customers to financially support the project, Clean Line is dropping its "clean" purpose. Clean Line is now "clean" in name only.
This isn't really surprising to me. For years, opposition to the projects have been telling everyone who will listen that "Clean" Lines are a fantasy that only works on paper. All electric transmission lines are "open access" to all customers, no matter what fuel they use to generate electricity. And now that the rubber has hit the road, Clean Line has dropped its "clean" mask to reveal its true purpose -- to make money transmitting any kind of electricity.
Will environmental groups continue to support transmission projects that breathe new life into old Midwestern coal plants by creating new markets for their generation? The Sierra Club and other groups supporting "Clean" Lines should have been on notice that new transmission lines supposedly "for wind" would ultimately be used "for coal." However it looks like they got snowed by a fast-talking front man to forget what they already knew and believe in the fantasy of "clean" transmission lines. And what was it the environmental groups knew?
As far back as 2009, The Sierra Club was wondering about the true purpose of new long-distance electric transmission lines:
Is the project just an excuse to expand the reach of coal-fired power plants rather than supporting a clean energy project?
Back around the time Clean Line created its corporation around the idea of "green" transmission lines, it was common knowledge that transmission lines being marketed as a way to increase the penetration of renewable energy would end up being used to increase the penetration of coal-fired power instead.
In May of 2010, a presentation was made at the National Coal Council's Spring Meeting entitled POTENTIAL IMPLICATIONS OF “GREEN TRANSMISSION” FOR
COAL POWER GENERATION. The presentation was made by Roger H. Bezdek, Ph.D., President of Management Information Services, Inc. Dr. Bezdek also co-authored an article on the same subject in industry magazine Fortnightly in 2012.
Dr. Bezdek proposed that new transmission "for renewables" would instead be used to increase use of existing "middle U.S." coal generators.
Existing coal fleet utilization currently ~ 72% -74%
Can increase to ~ 85% with adequate load & transmission
Most underutilized coal capacity in Middle U.S.
Current U.S. coal capacity ~ 310 GW, furnishes ~ 2 trillion kWh annually, U.S. consumes ~ 1.1B tons of coal
If new transmission increases existing coal fleet utilization 10%, then:
--Coal could provide additional 200B kWh
--Coal demand would increase by 100M tons
--Even assuming no new coal plants are built
--However, new transmission could facilitate new coal plants
And he put the idea that new transmission could be restricted to "clean" energy firmly to bed with this simple quote:
“Restricting new transmission to green electrons is as bad as restricting a new highway to only electric vehicles.”
Instead of "shutting down coal plants," Clean Line will actually be breathing new life into existing coal plants in the Midwest that may otherwise be displaced by increased in-state use of renewables, and end up shipping dirty generation to other regions.
Will the environmental groups continue to support "Clean" Lines that they know aren't really "clean?" Will they equivocate to make trade-offs to imagine the "clean" energy will balance out the "dirty" energy on the Clean Line?
The environmental groups need to admit the truth -- "Clean" Line isn't about "clean" energy at all. It's only about the money to be made owning transmission lines, no matter what kind of electricity they will ultimately carry.