One of my favorite moments in electric transmission history involves a 1966 initiative by our friends at the Edison Electric Institute to commission one of the "preeminent industrial design firms" of the day to design a number of "aesthetic" high voltage transmission structures that would "be universally acceptable to the industry and the public."  You can read all about this stunning moment in electric transmission history in a research paper published in 1997 (Levy, Eugene. “The Aesthetics of Power: High-voltage Transmission Systems and the American Landscape”. Technology and Culture 38.3 (1997): 575–607.)  You can read this paper free online at (requires sign-up for free membership).  The paper reviews a whole bunch of mid-century utility efforts to make electric transmission towers prettier and thus more acceptable to a public who was increasingly opposed to the construction of these unsightly, dangerous structures in their communities.

Although EEI's project was an abysmal failure, the utility industry wasn't about to give up its attempt to "sway by words" and continued the effort to beautify transmission towers through a series of industry magazine advertisements.  It wasn't really about swaying the public at that point, but about swaying the utility executives to purchase new designs that they believed were more beautiful than traditional towers.  And the utility industry of the day was dominated by men.  And the fastest way to a man's heart is through his... ummm... stop.  Anyhow, a 1968 A.B. Chance Co. advertisement in one utility rag utilized what was supposed to be a hot 1968 woman, dubbed "Miss Beautility," singing a little song about her "15-minute color film showing the use of strong, tapered, galvanized steel unipoles."  Oh, behave, you silly men!  Get your minds out of the gutter.  "Miss Beautility" wasn't talking about YOUR unipole!

American Electric Power is still enthralled with its unipole.  It made some big to do about its new BOLD design recently.  AEP claims that its "elegant" unipole "imparts a more favorable aesthetic appearance." 

Says who?
  AEP hasn't published any public opinion polling results that back up its aesthetic claims.

Nevertheless, AEP claims, "Efficiency never looked so good!"

However, the public that opposes transmission towers hasn't expressed a desire for "a streamlined, low-profile structure with phase-conductor bundles arranged into compact delta configurations."  Only AEP gets excited about that.

I'm really disappointed that AEP wasted all its brainpower developing another overhead transmission structure.  It doesn't matter what the tower looks like.  The industry has tried shaping them like people.  Or Mickey MouseClownsRobotDeer.  And many more bright ideas to "disguise" or "amuse" the people who gotta live with them.  I'm still waiting for the tower shaped like a dollar sign, since building new towers directly translates to increased utility profits.

But here's the reality.  What society wants is not to see these towers at all.  This is what the perfectly aesthetic electric transmission tower looks like.

It's buried.

Since AEP probably doesn't have any employees who look and think like this guy
AEP needs to get with the program and put its money and talents on a true aesthetically pleasing transmission solution.  One we can't see.

AEP is wasting its time on overhead line design.  It's BOLD design is about as appealing as a fresh turd.  It won't do a thing to ameliorate public opposition to new transmission projects.  Fail.
More problems for Dominion's troubled Skiffes Creek transmission project in the WaPo.

The most recent problem involves fish.  More precisely, the Atlantic Sturgeon.
Under choppy waters was the spawning ground of the Atlantic sturgeon, a large, prehistoric-looking fish credited with saving the early settlers from starvation. So abundant were the fish then that members of native tribes would wade into the river and catch them by hand. By 40 years ago, however, the sturgeon were thought to be wiped out because of decades of overfishing. Today, the fish are struggling to make a comeback as a federally protected endangered species.
Environmentalists believe construction of overhead towers in the James River will disturb the spawning of the endangered sturgeons.
The thumping percussion of the pile driver is likely to disturb not only the sturgeon, but also other anadromous fish that live their early lives in rivers before moving on to the ocean as adults.

“Every sturgeon killed by ship strike or a tower being pounded into the ground in this important area is a step backward in the effort to recover this population,” he said.
But wait, Dominion has a solution to the noise problem (and, no, it doesn't involve giving the fish little headsets that play music from The Little Mermaid).  Dominion says it will construct "a plastic bubble curtain to blunt the hammering."

And if that doesn't work... residents of Jamestown can once again wade into the river and catch stunned sturgeons by hand.  Just think of all the community goodwill to be had if Dominion makes lemonade out of these sour lemons and sets up a riverside community fish fry for local residents!
Well, Happy Holidays to you from the Edison Electric Institute!

In a recent article in The Intercept, a recording of an EEI lobbyist strategy phone conference reveals that investor owned utility schemers are hoping that the refugee crisis will give them the cover they need to block the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule.
“We’re suddenly not the big issue,” said one call participant. “I mean, this is all going to turn on refugees.”

“I think that helps us,” said another call participant. “I think it helps us with the White House being on defense,” another legislative strategist on the call said.
The EEI schemers hope all the focus on the refugee crisis will allow them to advance a rider on the WOTUS rule.

In Washington, it's all about attaching unsavory things onto popular legislation that has nothing to do with the unsavory activities.
Lobbyists frequently use “must pass” legislation, such as raising the debt-ceiling and government appropriation bills, to enact proposals that would otherwise face a presidential veto. In the last omnibus spending bill, legislators slipped riders onto the bill that repealed rules that prevent banks from using taxpayer-backed funds from trading in derivatives, as well as more than $3 billion in weapons programs the Pentagon did not ask Congress to fund.

If congressional leaders attach provisions to the omnibus to block Syrian refugee settlement, the Obama administration may be forced to accept a compromise that allows for other legislative riders to sneak through.

The participants on the EEI call appeared eager to use the refugee fight to distract the administration.

“In our big meeting this morning, all our lobbyists, their report back from the Hill over the last couple of days in House and Senate is that offices have been saying they are hearing more on this refugee issue than they have heard on any other issue in the last eight years, more than Obamacare, more than anything,” one the legislative strategists remarked.
Who runs this country?  Corporations do.  EEI is a particularly nasty wart on the posterior of a democratic government of the people, by the people, and for the people.  There's big money involved in EEI's courting of Congress and regulatory agencies.

I particularly liked's take on the leaked phone recording.  Using EEI's "mission" page, boingboing lifted a meme featuring a photo and quote of Thomas Edison:
What you are will show in what you do.
It does, EEI, it certainly does.

How do you chuckleheads sleep at night?
The American Legislative Exchange Council describes itself as a "partnership of America's state legislators and members of the private sector."  Why would your legislators need a "partnership" with corporations?  Corporations can't vote!

But corporations need elected officials to make laws favorable to them.  And most politicians are extremely cheap dates.  Buy them a drink and whisper in their ear and they'll toss their constituents under the bus in a heartbeat.

ALEC makes it even more fun by providing "scholarships" for your legislators to enjoy a fun-filled vacation, expensive dinners, golf outings, and beach time in exchange for a few hours listening to corporate agendas and carrying corporate-written bills back to their state legislatures.

It's no different here in the Eastern Panhandle, where the FirstEnergy Legislative Exchange Council will be in full swing wining and dining your legislators during a fancy dinner at The Purple Iris this evening.
We would like to invite you and a guest to please join your legislative colleagues and the management of FirstEnergy in West Virginia for one of our legislative dinners.  Company management will be discussing what is happening with the company in your area, and discuss FirstEnergy's legislative priorities.

All events begin with a reception at 6:30 PM and dinner at 7:00 PM.

November 10, 2015 - The Purple Iris, 1956 Winchester Ave., Martinsburg. 

Please RSVP to Sammy Gray, Director, State Affairs, and let me know if you plan to attend and bring a guest.

We look forward to seeing you at one of our events!
Electric conglomerate FirstEnergy (owner of Potomac Edison and Mon Power) is gathering your legislators for a series of private fancy dinners across the state to tell them first hand about FirstEnergy's legislative agenda for the upcoming year.

When a candidate for public office asked for an invitation to this private event so he, too, could learn about FirstEnergy's legislative priorities, he was told:
Thank you for you interest in meeting with us to discuss legislative issues and to meet our folks.
I would be pleased to meet with you privately at some time, however, the event tomorrow evening is for incumbents only.
Please check your calendar and suggest a few dates that you have available.
Oh, so regular folks can't partake of the private Purple Iris sumptuous buffet UNLESS they are in an immediate position to do FirstEnergy's bidding?  This is nonsense, and any legislators who attend should be embarrassed.

...because we will find out who you are, what was said, and any campaign contributions that change hands.

Hey, remember when a lowly reporter crashed a Wall Street secret society dinner and came out with recordings and pictures of the event?  Fun times!

The legislators would do better showing up at the McDonalds right up the street to hear the legislative priorities of their constituents who have been plagued with inaccurate and outrageous electric bills, and incessant rate increases.  Who knows, someone might even buy them some french fries!!!

The eyes.... the eyes....  The eyes are everywhere!  I hope this evening's goodie bag contains Rolaids.  You're probably going to need them.
It's really no secret at all how TDI New England is speeding through approvals for its New England Clean Power Link project.
The Clean Power Link is entirely underwater or underground.

The line will originate at the U.S.-Canadian border and travel approximately 97 miles underwater down Lake Champlain to Benson, Vt., and then be buried along town and state roads and railroad rights-of-way or on land owned by TDI New England for approximately 57 miles to a new converter station to be built in Ludlow, Vt.

The Clean Power Link encountered minimal public resistance in Vermont because of the burial of the line.

“It is well recognized in the industry that siting is one of the most difficult facets of building new energy infrastructure,” said Susan Schibanoff with Responsible Energy Action. “NECPL dealt with that issue first by creating solid community and political support with a fully buried line. It has clearly paid off in terms of the record speed with which they have moved ahead.”

This amazing project completed its Environmental Impact Statement in just two years!  The Union Leader compares it to the stalled, overhead Northern Pass project, which has been trying to get its EIS completed since 2010.  That's 5 years, and no end in sight.

When transmission developers design projects to be as unobtrusive and acceptable to landowners as possible, the developer can save millions in expensive advocacy-building and opposition battling tactics, as well as years in its project timeline.

This means burial, especially on public land/water, and along existing roadways or other rights-of-way.  No eminent domain is required. 

But, but, but... a buried project is so much more expensive than an overhead project, whine the transmission developers.

And they fear adding "unnecessary" cost of burial to an O1000 competitively bid project for fear of not being awarded the project.  Let's see these guys start making logical arguments to the RTO about the amount of time and money saved by not having any opposition, not having huge land/eminent domain costs to acquire rights-of-way from private landowners, and general constructability of a buried project vs. any additional cost of burial along public rights-of-way
.  I think they will pretty much balance themselves out.  The more buried projects that get built, the cheaper it will become.

Because NECPL proves that is IS possible get 'er done in a timely fashion while keeping your integrity intact.  Even for a merchant project (NECPL is a merchant project).

There's a lesson here for the transmission industry, if you can actually teach some very old dogs a new trick.  Can transmission developers shrug off their old dirty tricks that lie to communities?  Can they ever be honest with affected communities?  Can they develop some integrity?  Better ideas are right there for the taking. 
This is the modern way to get needed transmission built.  Anybody who tries to tell you different is a dinosaur who needs to retire.

Are you perturbed about Potomac Edison's constant rate increases?  Do you want to have your questions answered?

Come to the Jefferson Forum this Saturday, October 17, at 8:30 am at the Mountain View Diner in Charles Town!
The JEFFERSON FORUM will hold its monthly meeting  on         

17 October 2015    0830 AM to   1100 A M
Mountain View Diner
901 East Washington Street
Charles Town, WV 25414

Our primary topic will be to discuss the proposed rate increase as filed 14 August 2015 before the WEST VIRGINIA PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION by POTOMAC EDISON and MONONGAHELA POWER. The issues to discuss involve the impact of this rate increase since it follows closely upon the rate increase which took effect in April 2015. The primary reason given for this increase appears to be increased fuel costs.

Since the consuming public is given no voice before the WV Public Service Commission, save for an overworked, under funded, understaffed Consumer Advocate Office, it is not unreasonable to request that the Utility Companies offer reasonable explanations for such demands.
We  require civility and courtesy at THE JEFFERSON FORUM, and every effort is made to assure that every person is allowed to be heard.

Danny Lutz
And Mountain View Diner serves a mean breakfast.  It might be almost as tasty as the rest of the event! 

Potomac Edison and the WV PSC have been invited, but have declined the invitation, stating:
Thank you for the opportunity to speak to the Jefferson County Forum on Oct. 17. Unfortunately, since the issues you wish to discuss are pending before the WV Public Service Commission, I cordially decline your invitation.

Testimony  regarding the recovery of our fuel costs will be accepted by the Commission on Nov. 19th  & 20th at their office in Charleston. Please feel free to attend those hearings.

No date has been set for the hearing on the Vegetation Management filing.
Just an FYI -- the food in Charleston isn't nearly as good.  Neither is the show.

I wouldn't miss this for the world!  I'm betting Potomac Edison won't either.  They'd best find some really inconspicuous spies.... anyone acting suspiciously will be hauled to the front of the room and made to address the crowd while speed eating a Gyro, Feta & Tomato Omelette and juggling a trio of Belgian Waffles.

See you there ;-)
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?
Ever heard the idiom "qui cum canibus concumbunt cum pulicibus surgent."  Probably not, but you must be familiar with its English translation, "when you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas."  Clean Line has recently exposed its dirty underbelly by publicly scratching its fleas.

Clean Line is now a proud "member" of the Consumers Energy Alliance (#25 under "Energy Providers and Suppliers").

What is the Consumers Energy Alliance?  According to SourceWatch:
The Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) is a nonprofit organization and a front group for the energy industry that opposes political efforts to regulate carbon standards while advancing deep water and land-based drilling for oil and methane gas. The CEA supports lifting moratoria on offshore and land-based oil and natural gas drilling, encourages the creation and expansion of petroleum refineries and easing the permitting process for drilling. The group also says it supports energy conservation. CEO portrays itself as seeking to ensure a "proper balance" between traditional non-renewable and extractive energy sources and alternative energy sources. The group also supports construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

According to, which obtained over 300 emails of personal messages between lobbyists and Canadian officials, the CEA is part of a sophisticated public affairs strategy designed to manipulate the U.S. political system by deluging the media with messaging favorable to the tar-sands industry; to persuade key state and federal legislators to act in the extractive industries' favor; and to defeat any attempt to regulate the carbon emissions emanating from gasoline and diesel used by U.S. vehicles.
So, the CEA is a well-known front group for the fossil fuel industry?  But, wait a tick, I thought Clean Line was all about "clean" energy and shutting down the fossil fuel industry?  Money makes strange bedfellows.

What is a front group?

A front group is an organization that purports to represent one agenda while in reality it serves some other party or interest whose sponsorship is hidden or rarely mentioned. The front group is perhaps the most easily recognized use of the third party technique. For example, Rick Berman's Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) claims that its mission is to defend the rights of consumers to choose to eat, drink and smoke as they please. In reality, CCF is a front group for the tobacco, restaurant and alcoholic beverage industries, which provide all or most of its funding.

Of course, not all organizations engaged in manipulative efforts to shape public opinion can be classified as "front groups." For example, the now-defunct Tobacco Institute was highly deceptive, but it didn't hide the fact that it represented the tobacco industry. There are also degrees of concealment. The Global Climate Coalition, for example, didn't hide the fact that its funding came from oil and coal companies, but nevertheless its name alone is sufficiently misleading that it can reasonably be considered a front group.

The shadowy way front groups operate makes it difficult to know whether a seemingly independent grassroots is actually representing some other entity. Thus, citizen smokers' rights groups and organizations of bartenders or restaurant workers working against smoking bans are sometimes characterized as front groups for the tobacco industry, but it is possible that some of these groups are self-initiated (although the tobacco industry has been known to use restaurant groups as fronts for its own interests).
Front groups are formed and managed by well-paid public relations/lobbying firms.  They are paid for by the industry.  The CEA is managed by HBW Resources.  The group has been "conducting a grassroots operation" in "target states" that would "generate significant opposition to discriminatory low carbon fuels standards" that were created to address climate change.

The term "grassroots" means ordinary people with no financial interest in the proposal at hand.  CEA is not a grassroots organization.  It is funded and directed by the corporations that pay HBW to run it.

But now the CEA  has a new "initiative" to support Clean Line Energy Partners.  The "initiative" supports Clean Line's Plains & Eastern Clean Line.
“Unfortunately, virtually all energy projects face at least some level of opposition. But, in most cases, the opposition comes from the vocal few who stand in the way of the silent majority who see these necessary projects providing tremendous job and economic development opportunities on many levels. The EDJ Alliance will help taxpayers, energy consumers, landowners and businesses to voice their opinion to elected officials so that they embrace the opportunities associated with energy development.”
Vocal few?  Silent majority?  You mean landowners and consumers who object to the Plains & Eastern project vs. Clean Line Energy Partners?  CLEP is hardly silent (paid mouthpieces like HBW stand in evidence) and it's certainly not any kind of "majority" in Arkansas.  In addition, CEA does not represent any actual "consumers" or other "grassroots" interests.  It simply pretends to speak for them.

Like this:
Support landowners in Arkansas and Oklahoma!  Support energy infrastructure!  Support the Plains & Eastern Clean Line!

We need your help!

America's energy infrastructure needs your help!  Lobbying efforts at the white house level have inhibited the passage of an energy infrastructure project beneficial to citizens and landowners in Arkansas and Oklahoma!


Support energy infrastructure, land owners, and the Plains and Eastern Clean Line project by simply clicking the link below to sign the petition!  Every click makes a difference!

It is absolutely imperative to demonstrate support as a citizen!  The future of America's energy infrastructure is in your hands!!
When a couple of the landowners CEA claims to represent questioned the group's claims, HBW promptly removed the claims from its facebook page.

How stupid does HBW think the American people are?  Do they ever type a sentence that doesn't end with one (or two!!) exclamation points?  This is ridiculous, ineffective drivel.  C'mon!!!!!!!!

What "lobbying efforts at the White House level" have inhibited "passage" of an energy infrastructure project?  Do you mean the DOE's consideration of Plains & Eastern's Section 1222 application to "participate" in the project in order to override state authority to site and permit transmission?  That decision won't be made until next year.  And it's supposed to be made by DOE secretary Ernest Moniz, not the "white house."  Does HBW and Clean Line know something about some dirty dealings that the rest of us aren't privy to?

So, who are the faces of CEA's "initiative?"

Ryan Scott, Outreach Director

Since 2005, Ryan has provided strategic advice to clients across a number of industries with a focus on the oil and gas sector in particular.

While working as an attorney, before joining HBW, Ryan focused on commercial litigation, often representing business clients in contract disputes.  Prior to practicing law, Ryan worked at Deloitte & Touche’s Strategy & Operations Consulting practice.  While with Deloitte, he worked with clients such as Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), developing and delivering Financial Reporting & Legal training to a BMS executive team.  Ryan evaluated Finance function processes to improve and transform them leading up to a major SAP implementation for Wal-Mart.

Ryan received a B.A. in Economics from the University of Southern California, and a JD – MBA from Case Western Reserve University in Ohio.  Ryan is licensed to practice law in Illinois and is a member of the Illinois State Bar Association.
Here's Ryan Scott trading papers with Clean Line public relations "manager" Amy Kurt at the second Mendota Illinois Commerce Commission public forum in the fall of 2013:
And here's Ryan Scott interacting with the ICC judge at the forum:
Here's what Ryan Scott had to say about the Rock Island Clean Line at the forum:
MR. SCOTT: My name is Ryan Scott;
R-y-a-n, S-c-o-t-t. I'm here as a resident of Illinois and representative of Consumer Energy Alliance. We're a trade association representing virtually every sector of the economy from trucking, to organized labor, to energy producers. The reason I'm here to speak in favor of Rock Island is simple. Consumer Energy Alliance and I support this project because it represents an important piece of the energy puzzle to supply consumers with affordable and reliable energy.  Anyone who plugs in their smart phone into an electrical outlet, fires up their television to watch the Bears or perhaps a better football team or just uses their air conditioner will benefit from this project. The bottom line is in the United States demand is increasing. As one of the previous speakers stated, according to the Department of Energy and Energy Information Administration, forecasts of 25 percent increase in demand for electricity over the next three decades are expected in the United States. At the same time, the supply of electricity is expected to decrease due to aging plants and tightening Federal regulations. Many coal-fired power plants will be shuttered in the coming decades. In Illinois coal, which we expect to be decreasing in production, actually makes up approximately 40 percent of the State's energy base level. So that's an important piece of the puzzle that will no longer be available to Illinoisans. For all the reasons stated above and in order to meet Illinois' energy needs, the Consumer Energy Alliance and I support the Rock Island Clean Line project. Thank you.
That's funny.  Ryan didn't mention that Clean Line Energy Partners is a member of the CEA.

Who does Ryan Scott work for?  It's not CEA or its "initiative," it's HBW Resources.  HBW doesn't do anything for free, so I believe that Ryan was paid to appear at the ICC forum and make that statement.

Didn't Clean Line have the opportunity to present its case to the ICC as the applicant?  Why, then, did Clean Line feel it necessary to have paid speakers posing as third party "consumer" interests supporting its project at the forum?  Did Clean Line think it was fooling the ICC into believing that consumers supported RICL?

And now Ryan, HBW, and its new "initiative" think they're fooling a whole new bunch of folks at the "white house" and in the Mayberry towns of Arkansas and Oklahoma?

I wonder what Clean Line's big green supporters think about its getting into bed with fossil fuel interests in the CEA?  At what point are these environmental fools going to conclude that Clean Line isn't about "green" energy, but a different kind of $green$?

And, as far as Clean Line's attempted deception about the "benefits" of the Plains & Eastern Clean Line?  Report to your battle stations, Mayberry!  We're going to have some fun!   You've got to get up pretty early in the morning to fool a farmer.  Also an idiom you've probably heard.  Not translated into Latin.
Ask a transmission developer proposing a new transmission line and you'll get an answer in the neighborhood of 10 times the cost of an overhead line.  (Example: $1B overhead = $10B buried)

Ask an engineer for a company proposing an underground project and you get an estimate that burial would double the cost of a similar overhead line.
(Example:  $1B overhead - $2B buried)

I've been told both of these things.  So, who to believe?  Who might be exaggerating to serve their own purposes?

Apparently it only does "almost double" costs to bury HVDC transmission.
  That's what the Department of Energy concluded in its recently released draft environmental impact statement on the ill-fated Northern Pass project.

A complete burial of the Northern Pass transmission line would nearly double the project’s cost, but reduce potential negative impacts on the environment, tourism and local property values, according to a draft report released by the U.S. Department of Energy Tuesday.

While the proposed Northern Pass project — made up primarily of overhead lines strung between Pittsburg, N.H., and Deerfield, N.H. — would be the cheapest option at roughly $1.02 billion, it would also pose the greatest environmental and visual impact, the report says.

Four of the alternatives call for a complete burial of the transmission line. Another calls for partial burial beneath Interstate 93 through Franconia Notch, or along Routes 112 and 116 through the White Mountain National Forrest.

Five call for burial along existing roads and highways, options with the least environmental impact, the report says. All of the underground alternatives carry the highest costs, ranging from $1.83 billion to $2.11 billion.
But nowhere near a magnitude of 10 times the cost.  Liar, liar, pants on fire!

In addition, a buried line provides significant benefits over its aerial cousin.
The visual impact, which includes “large industrial-appearing lattice structures,” could negatively impact New Hampshire’s tourism and recreation, the report says. And the proposed overhead route likely would cause the largest drop in residential property values and have the least economic tax benefit to host communities.

Putting the line underground, as opposed to overhead, lessens the impact on tourism, recreation, historic resources and the environment, the review says.

Burying the line requires less vegetation removal and has fewer effects on wildlife, including protected species. The buried lines are less susceptible than the overhead lines to damage from extreme weather.

Construction of the overhead line would generate fewer short-term and permanent jobs than an underground alternative, the report says.
But wait...
But, the report says, blasting during construction would generate more noise than putting the lines overhead. And burial of the line would increase the potential for erosion.
Really?  That's the only drawback?  Noise from blasting?  So, how much "blasting" would Clean Line need to do to bury its proposed transmission lines across Midwest farmland?  Little to none?  What if much of the additional cost of burial was tied to blasting up the "Granite State" to create trenches?  And erosion?  I think that could probably be handled.  Once buried, out of site, out of mind, right?

C'mon, Clean Line, get with the program and re-engineer your projects as underground lines!  How much have you spent (and moreover how much will you have to spend in the future) trying to get your lines permitted?  It would have been much cheaper (in terms of both money and time) to have done the smart thing and proposed your projects as buried lines in the first damned place!

And don't give me any of that crap about how its technologically impossible to bury long lines.  The engineer who gave me the spot on double cost estimate also told me there is no mileage limit.  He's got a lot more cred than you do at this point...

How much does opposition cost?  How much does buying support cost?  How much does lobbying to change laws cost?  How much are a whole bunch of contested eminent domain cases going to cost?  How much do repeat or additional approval processes cost?

Clean Line says its currently proposed transmission line will only add something like 2.5 cents per kw hour to the 2.5 cent cost of wind energy.  So, even doubling the project costs, it's still possible to deliver at 7.5 cents/kwh, right?  Well, unless Clean Line has been lying about the delivered price of wind via its projects...

Maybe Clean Line's projects won't be "economic" enough to provide big returns to their investors without foisting some of its costs off onto bypassed landowners by taking land as cheaply as possible through condemnation and eminent domain?

We all know that the public's appetite for "green" energy only stretches so far as their wallet.  When faced with increased electric bills for "green" energy, the majority of the public will snap their wallet shut and oppose it.  So, why would this same public expect that Midwest landowners should accept economic sacrifice and burden to keep urban electric bills low?  It's only appealing when its been greenwashed and politicized, and none of that nasty infrastructure gets planted in THEIR backyard!

And... this question bubbles up... why does the DOE's draft EIS for the Northern Pass include multiple routing options that require underground lines when DOE's draft EIS for the Clean Line Plains & Eastern project proposed NO underground options?  Are the people and environment of Oklahoma and Arkansas worth less than those in New Hampshire?  Or is it just that Northern Pass has gotten bigger, politically-connected, push back and top-notch legal help?

It's about time to recognize that the public will no longer accept the burden of overhead lines.  Anywhere.  There's a better way.  "Green" energy costs more.  Deal with it.