<![CDATA[ StopPATH WV - StopPATH WV Blog]]>Thu, 17 Aug 2017 06:46:24 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[The Clean Line Blame Game]]>Wed, 16 Aug 2017 23:31:47 GMThttp://stoppathwv.com/stoppath-wv-blog/the-clean-line-blame-gameIn the wake of the Missouri Public Service Commission's denial of Clean Line's Grain Belt Express project today, fingers were pointing everywhere.

Clean Line's Michael Skelly blamed the PSC.
The PSC’s decision to deny approval of the project, despite the clear public benefits, sends a clear message that investors contemplating new infrastructure projects should not come to Missouri. Today’s ruling is inconsistent with good government and sound public policy and it is our hope that moving forward Missouri will work to remove barriers to building new critical infrastructure projects.
The PSC blamed the courts.
Instead, the commission said it was bound by a court opinion rendered earlier this year on the Mark Twain Transmission Project. That case involved the issue of assent — or permission from counties to use right-of-ways to construct the project.
Screwball environmental fringe group Renew Missouri blamed the governor.
"...the decision on the Grain Belt Express today shows our new Governor’s administration isn’t serious about economic development and household budgets as promised. Just more talk with no action.”
Let's pause here and put on our thinking caps, shall we? 

What's the problem?

Grain Belt Express did not have necessary county assents.

Whose fault is that?

It's Clean Line's fault, of course!  None of this would have happened if Clean Line had produced county assents.

And why couldn't Clean Line produce county assents?

Because it treated county commissions and affected landowners like they didn't matter.  Instead of offering something landowners could accept, Clean Line thought it prudent to ignore landowner concerns and request eminent domain to take their property against their will.  If Clean Line had truly worked to find a way to get landowner support, the county commissions may have granted assent.

But Clean Line didn't. 

The denial of Grain Belt Express is only Clean Line's fault.
<![CDATA[Grain Belt Express Strikes Out - Denied by Missouri PSC for the Third Time!]]>Wed, 16 Aug 2017 18:06:18 GMThttp://stoppathwv.com/stoppath-wv-blog/grain-belt-express-strikes-out-denied-by-missouri-psc-for-the-third-time
Citizens across Missouri are celebrating today in the wake of the Public Service Commission’s (PSC) denial of Grain Belt Express’s (GBE) application to build a high-voltage transmission line across the state. The application, GBE’s third, was unanimously denied at a PSC meeting this morning. The Commissioners stated that they are constrained by a recent court opinion that requires local county assent before the PSC can grant a permit.

Block GBE-Missouri President Russ Pisciotta stated, “This is a huge victory for the impacted property owners and property rights. We are so thankful to all that made this possible.”

Key to the landowners’ victory is the steadfast opposition to the project by County Commissions. A transmission project must receive the assent of the commission of each county crossed prior to approval by the PSC. In Ralls County, where support of the project was rescinded, Presiding Commissioner Wiley Hibbard says he will continue to stand with his constituents.

“I am very pleased that the local control of county commissioners was upheld by the PSC. Local officials have much better insight on how these projects will affect their counties. Please know Ralls County is not against green energy, in fact our Ralls Co. Electric Co-op has over 500 megawatts of wind energy currently available. Anyone interested in taking advantage of this clean energy opportunity without taking our land by force is welcome in Ralls County,” said Hibbard.

Caldwell County Presiding Commissioner Bud Motsinger said he has tried to reflect the opinions of voting constituents.

“I am very pleased that the PSC has listened to the public comments and public opinion. It is very important for local citizens to express opinions on issues that concern them and their county. This is an example of community involvement protecting the future of Caldwell County,” said Motsinger.

Block GBE-Missouri believes that offshore wind is a viable option for the east coast, without disrupting and clear cutting thousands of acres halfway across the country in the Midwest. Offshore wind is a reliable and consistent supply because it blows during peak times, when terrestrial wind often cannot produce. Block GBE believes distributed and locally sourced renewables provide economic development to the area that will use the energy produced, and keeps energy dollars at home, where they provide local jobs and tax benefits.

Block member Jennifer Gatrel stated, “It was never about whether or not the energy was renewable, but about disruption and loss of production for the many family farms, as well as reduced property values and permanent hazards for landowners in GBE’s path. Use of eminent domain to coerce cooperation, and poor compensation, did little to convince landowners to sacrifice their wellbeing for the benefit of consumers in Missouri cities and other states far away.”

During oral arguments on the issue earlier this month, GBE’s attorney shared with the Commission that if the project was dismissed, it was dead.

“Farmers are long term thinkers. We plan in decades, not years. We will fight this as long as it takes. Property rights are worth protecting,” said Block GBE spokeswoman Jennifer Gatrel.

BACKGROUND: Grain Belt Express was a 780-mile high-voltage direct current transmission proposed to run from Kansas to Indiana to move wind energy from the Great Plains to the East Coast.
<![CDATA[Todd Burns:  Liar?  Or Just Stupid?]]>Thu, 10 Aug 2017 11:34:15 GMThttp://stoppathwv.com/stoppath-wv-blog/todd-burns-liar-or-just-stupidIt's one or the other.  Let's contemplate this...

When I asked Todd Burns what his company's return on equity was, he appeared confused.  He didn't know what a return on equity was.  It was only after I explained what it was that he finally remembered that Transource's return on equity for this project is "10 to 11 percent" something like that.  FACT:  Transource has applied to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a 10.9% ROE.  The matter is currently in settlement discussions, with an administrative hearing possible if a settlement is not reached.

I met a handful of the Transource guys and gals the other night.  Most attempted to be personable and avoid direct lies while trying to answer my increasingly hard questions.  And then I worked my way up to Todd Burns.

He also had trouble admitting that Transource has received an incentive from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that allows the company to file to recover all its sunk costs from ratepayers in the event that PJM decides to abandon this project

So, do the lawyers and bean counters at "Transource" (really utility giant AEP, because Transource has no employees of its own) not share basic information, such as return on equity and who pays if the project is abandoned, with Todd Burns?  Todd needs to hustle home to Columbus with great alacrity and find out about all this stuff!  Otherwise, he looks rather stupid to a public who does know about it.  Or maybe he looks like a liar who was pretending to be uninformed so he could avoid the question?  As if that could happen.

Todd Burns also seemed to be confused about a lot of other facts during an interview with the Waynesboro Herald Record.  Despite that, the reporter managed to write a great, balanced article.  The Herald Record has the best coverage of this issue that I've seen (other media take note!)  What was it that Burns said?
Burns said some of the negative feedback is based on misinformation about the project. “There’s a lot of confusion and a lot of things being said that aren’t accurate,” Burns said.
I blame you, Todd.  I think most of the "misinformation" is coming from you.  Please, allow me to demonstrate...
“Burying lines causes problems,” Burns said. “If a line fails and it’s underground, it can’t be located and fixed immediately. That’s what happened recently on the Outer Banks.
“The environmental disturbance is greater to trench and bury a line than to run it overhead. And it’s ten-times more costly to do it underground.”

It is NOT "ten times more costly" to underground lines.  In fact, it's only twice as costly, roughly.  AEP has been claiming undergrounding is "ten times more costly" for years, along with a whole bunch of other excuses for taking the cheaper and easier option of aerial lines.  And the technology does exist to determine where a fault is on an underground line.  And you probably can mark an underground line to prevent all by the biggest idiots from pile driving onto it.  I'm not buying the environmental disturbance thing, either.  I've seen what transmission companies do to rights of way when building overhead lines.  So, let's update these excuses, because they sort of sound like a lie to me.

As well, who cares how much it costs to underground lines?  If the landowners require undergrounding, then that is the cost of fixing this "bottleneck."  Are you saying that unless you can build this cheaply that all the savings for the DC-Baltimore elite will evaporate?  A more expensive project doesn't clear a cost-benefit analysis?  Then, obviously, this project isn't worth doing.  It is not incumbent upon Pennsylvania and Maryland landowners to sacrifice by allowing the cheapest project you can build in order to move cheaper power to the city.  If you want them to sacrifice for the cities, then the landowners need to have input into how the final project looks on their property.  And by having input, I mean actually making the determination -- I don't mean having an opportunity to toss comments down a black hole at Transource where they are completely ignored.  The only way a landowner can have effective input is when eminent domain is not an option.  Anything else is coercion, not negotiation.  Which brings us to...
“I’ve heard people are concerned about land use and whether they will be able to use their properties,” Burns said. “People will still be able to work under the power lines, although obviously there would be a limit on building underneath them. The land is still useable.”
Burns said property owners would be compensated for the easements through their land. “We’re going to be acquiring easements from the landowners and compensate them for it. They will retain the rights to certain activities,” Burns said.
He said property-owners shouldn’t be worried about the threat of eminent domain. “Our approach is we negotiate fair market value for anything that has to be acquired,” he explained. “We use eminent domain less than three percent of the time.”

If you want to see how landowners can still work under high voltage transmission lines, carefully watch the AEP videos on this page.  Nuisance shocks, EMF, and big brother monitoring your activities on your own land?  What's not to like?  But wait, there's more... like aerial spraying of the right of way with chemicals to keep growth down,  or power line workers coming on your property for maintenance or repairs and leaving gates open, driving large equipment through your fields, and disturbing the soil.  The truth is that you will have picked up a parasitic tenant on your land... in perpetuity.

"Compensation" for property taken may be less than you'd expect.  After all it is a value created by an out of state company, that will never even lay eyes on your place, from market studies of similar land sales of property in your county.  It is Transource's idea of the value of your property, not yours.  As well, you may only be paid for the property in the right of way, when the right of way itself devalues the rest of the parcel.  Payments for damages will be argued over in court for years... at your expense, if you don't accept what the company wants to give you.

I'm pretty sure Transource land agents will use the threat of eminent domain 100% of the time in order to coerce the landowner to sign on the dotted line.  That isn't negotiation, that's coercion.
Burns said he is confident the Independence Energy Connection will save customers money not just in the greater metropolitan areas south of here, but locally. “The driver is to give customers in this area access to lower costs,” he said. He said it is too early to estimate what the cost savings might be, or whether local, independent energy companies will pass the savings on to customers. “They may have other initiatives that will affect your bill,” Burns said.
Perhaps Burns needs to talk to his underlings, who have readily admitted that the lion's share of the savings is for customers in the DC/Baltimore area.  And PJM agrees with that.  That's why 80.52% of the cost of this project will be paid for by DC, Baltimore and Northern Virginia Customers.
Those who receive the benefits (in this instance cheaper power) pay the costs.  That's how PJM works.  Any savings for the project area (benefits) are not commensurate with the cost to the community and the individual landowners.  Their costs are much greater than any benefit they may receive.

And I hate to let Burns know, but one of his underlings actually confirmed that market efficiency projects perform a leveling of costs across the region.  If power is cheaper in the cities, the cost of it must rise somewhere else.  All that cheap power "bottlenecked" in PA and MD and unable to reach the cities?  Those are the prices that are going to go up once the "bottleneck" is removed.

And then Burns admits he has no hard evidence of how (or even if) this project will lower local electric bills.  Then he supposes that local electric companies may keep any savings that develop for themselves.  Of course... always thinking ahead, that Todd, to explain now why bills will never go down after this project is built.

Todd is not telling the truth about project benefit.  But he may not be the only one with a penchant for prevarication.  Transource spokeswoman Abby Foster made up a whole bunch of satisfied and happy landowners out of thin air.
Despite the many negative comments exchanged from person to person around the packed community center, Transource officials said there was also positive feedback.
“We found in this area, people understand the greater need for infrastructure,” said Abby Foster, community affairs representative for Transource Energy. “Everyone here benefits from something being on someone’s property.”
Foster said the positive comments she heard came from residents who see the financial benefits of easements on their properties as well as the benefits of costs savings on energy bills.
She said some residents don’t like the exact location of the proposed line across their properties but are willing to have it shifted to a different location on their properties.
“There’s a lot that has shifted because of public input,” Foster said.
Why are there no quotes from these people?  Why didn't the reporter talk to any of them?  Is that because they don't exist?  These must be the mysterious folks who have requested monopoles, because those people are just as elusive.  What it seems more like is that Transource is making up a mythical landowner who is pleased because Transource is altering its plans to suit Mr. Mythical.  A company that presented its public image as "take it or leave it" would be seen as unfavorable by the public.  One that pretends it is bending to the will of the people may curry more favor.  But when there are no happy people in reality, it's all an illusion.  Nobody wants this transmission line on their property.

And as far as that “everyone here benefits from something being on someone’s property” line, puh-leeze.  I heard that from one of the Transource people at the open house.  It was the tagline of the night.  And it sucks.  It doesn't work on the public, just so you know, Transource.  Other companies have tried it before you.  It is met with anger and confusion.  It has no relevance for affected landowners.  Just because we use eminent domain and rights of way to take property for public use does not mean that everyone should gladly sacrifice for the selfish needs of others.  And that's what this is... rural sacrifice for urban benefit.  This project isn't needed to keep the lights on.  It's only "need," according to PJM, is to make power cheaper in the cities to the south.  Those cities like to keep their pretty skylines lit up all night long.  There's no reason at all to keep an office tower lit inside all night.  Maybe if the cities quit wasting so much electricity, they wouldn't need to call older, more expensive plants to generate during peak load a few days out of the year.  And then we wouldn't "need" gigantic transmission towers in Pennsylvania.

Let's wrap up with this...
“We’ll look at a route that strikes the best balance,” Burns said, mentioning recreational activities, historic value and land use concerns. “You rarely come up with one that’s gonna satisfy all those things. Ultimately, it will be at the state level to decide where it goes.”
It is up to the state to decide WHETHER it goes, not just where.  Opposition to this project is huge and gathering mass every minute.  Loud, forthright opposition kills transmission projects.  Todd Burns is going to need to get himself educated quickly!  Or else quit lying.  He's not very good at it.
<![CDATA[How Dare you, Dominion!]]>Tue, 08 Aug 2017 16:28:40 GMThttp://stoppathwv.com/stoppath-wv-blog/how-dare-you-dominionI was completely floored to hear how rude, insulting and arrogant Mr. Chuck Penn of Dominion was on the Kojo Nnamdi radio show yesterday.  Shame on you, Chuck!  You sure didn't paint your company in a good light.  In fact, you only served to create new enemies.  I'm one.

Now, I met Mr. Penn several years ago and he was quite the friendly personality.  But, then again, he was getting what he wanted at the time (and so was I).  Either he's been drinking too much Arrogant Bastard ale of late, or he's really been a nasty person all along.

The story presented on the show concerns a transmission project Dominion wants to build in Prince William County, Va.  The transmission line is "necessary" to serve a proposed new data center owned by an Amazon subsidiary.  And Dominion wants to run it through private property.  Of course, the affected landowners objected.  Their local elected county officials responded by backing the landowners.  Dominion's "preferred route" was blocked by the creation of a conservation easement along the route.  The Virginia State Corporation Commission then selected the next route option that plows through the nearby Carver Road community.  Carver Road is an historic African-American community.  Dominion (and Mr. Penn on the radio) played this up as a rich, white community dumping unwanted infrastructure on a less affluent African-American community.  This is the stuff movies are made of, right?  Except the Carver Road community has joined forces with the community on the original route to oppose the transmission line on any route.  The original group is fighting just as hard to have the route moved out of Carver Road as they did to have it moved out of their own neighborhood.  This is the epitome of a community working together to benefit everyone, despite Mr. Penn's best efforts to portray it as racial.  I'm guessing that Mr. Penn doesn't speak for Carver Road... after all, he works for Dominion.  Mr. Penn thinks the county should release the easement so Dominion can build its project along the original route.

How about this?  How about Dominion doesn't build its project at all?

Opponents said that the data center isn't even a sure thing, and even if it was, this project is nothing more than a gigantic service line, necessary only to serve the data center. 

There is a route that goes along the highway and comprises some buried sections of line.  The Virginia SCC says they did not select that route because it was "too expensive."  Penn said that route would cost $100M more than tearing up one of the affected neighborhoods with an overhead line.  And then Dominion and the SCC sit around and talk about how all ratepayers in the region will pay for the transmission line so they need to build it as cheaply as possible.

The opposition pointed out that 97% of the transmission line benefit will be for Amazon and asked why Amazon isn't paying 97% of the cost?  If you or I built a house up on a remote mountain and then wanted electric service, we'd have to pay to run our service line from the nearest distribution line.  This project is nothing more than that on a grand scale.  Why should Amazon have no cost responsibility for its own service line?  Because of economic development, jobs, taxes, and all the wonderful things it could possibly bring to Prince William County?  Who did the cost benefit analysis on that to prove that the benefits of the data center are greater than the cost to the ratepayers?

And then we get down to the fundamental question... why must a handful of landowners sacrifice their economic and environmental well-being to host a transmission line for a data center that economically benefits the entire region?  If the project can be built on a more expensive route that nobody objects to, and Amazon covers the cost of its service line, where's the harm to the ratepayers of using the more expensive route?  The true cost of a transmission project is one that finds a route that doesn't harm anyone.  If that includes burial, so be it.

The idea that certain segments of society (either black or white) must sacrifice for the whole is outdated and unacceptable any longer.  This isn't the 1930's when that was necessary to electrify the country.  "But for" the data center, this project isn't necessary.

I find Dominion's attempt to play communities against each other completely disgusting. Instead, the communities should be fighting their common enemy, Dominion.  The communities are to be commended for refusing to fall for Chuck's ruse.  United they stand, divided they fall.

And Chuck should quit being so ugly to people.  I'm sure his momma taught him better than that. 
<![CDATA[Abandoned PATH Properties, Get Your Abandoned PATH Properties Here!]]>Tue, 08 Aug 2017 15:12:50 GMThttp://stoppathwv.com/stoppath-wv-blog/abandoned-path-properties-get-your-abandoned-path-properties-herePATH is holding a fire sale this month on all those abandoned properties it purchased nearly 10 years ago.  Need a gigantic farm property that's not zoned for an electric substation? 
How about a nice vacation cabin in West Virginia that's been sitting vacant and rotting for years? 

Or perhaps you're in the market for a big lot in a very exclusive Loudoun County, Virginia, subdivision and you don't mind having high voltage transmission lines running through the middle of your property?
Then don't miss these PATH absolute auctions on August 22 and August 23!

Finally, 5 years after the PATH 765-kV transmission line project was officially abandoned by PJM Interconnection and the PATH companies, the property PATH bought with your money is being auctioned off.  PATH has been marketing some of these properties for years, with no takers.  What kind of a property is marketed for 5 years with no offers?  What's wrong with these properties?  Buyer beware!

While actively seeking to build the project between 2008 and 2011, PATH purchased outright around $30M worth of real estate to be used as future substations and right of way for its transmission project.  Each property has some story attached that serves as an excuse for purchasing it way above its market value at that point in time.  Need an ending point for your project?  Purchase a farm zoned agricultural and then set about battling the county about re-zoning it.  Need to have a conservation easement lifted?  Purchase a bunch of property near the easement and then hire lobbyists to influence the governmental entity that holds the easement to release it.  See an opportunity property where the owners are struggling financially?  Purchase it now and worry about how you may use it later.  After all, it's not YOUR money, it's coming out of electric ratepayer wallets, and you're earning a big fat return on every dollar you spend.

How much return?  Well, initially, 14.3%, later 12.9%, later still 10.9%, even later 10.4%, and finally, 8.11%.  As long as you own those properties, you may collect the corresponding return on your investment from ratepayers. 

But when you sell the properties, you must credit the sale price to your unpaid balance upon which the return is calculated.  For example, if the balance of your investment is $100, and you sell a property that is included in that balance for $5, then your new balance is $95.  An 10% return on $100 is $10.  A 10% return on $95 is $9.50.  So, by holding onto your properties as long as possible, you will collect the maximum amount of return.  So it really wouldn't help your profit margin to sell these unneeded properties quickly.  You must hold on to them until the rest of the ratepayer debt is paid and a regulator orders you to dispose of them, then auction them off at fire sale prices and make the ratepayers pay all the auction and commission expenses off the top of the credit they will realize from the sale of property.  And then you can hope the ratepayers don't find out about it.


So, for all those PATH opponents who have been living in suspended animation for the past 5 years wondering if PATH was going to dream up another project to use those properties for a transmission line, you're released from your continuing torture.  The PATH companies are finally going away and won't be using the properties for a future transmission project.  Now you only have to worry about what a new owner may do with the properties.  And how much you ultimately paid, of course.  Creative accounting, and feigned uncertainty combined with a failure to effectively market vacant property, will squeeze the last possible penny out of your wallet.

PATH... the gift that keeps on taking.

How do these guys sleep at night?
<![CDATA[Grain Belt Express's Worst Nightmare]]>Tue, 08 Aug 2017 10:57:27 GMThttp://stoppathwv.com/stoppath-wv-blog/grain-belt-expresss-worst-nightmareLegal transcripts contain an index.  The transcript of last week's Missouri Public Service Commission Oral Argument in the Grain Belt Express case includes the word "nightmare."
There was a bit of debate regarding exactly what constitutes Grain Belt Express's worst nightmare.  PSC Chairman Hall thought issuing a non-appealable favorable finding (but not a permit) for GBE to use as leverage for assent of county commissions would create GBE's "worst nightmare" of hanging in limbo forever.  However, GBE's attorney was quick to correct him.  He said dismissal of the application was GBE's "worst nightmare," because dismissal means the project is dead.  Chairman Hall started to disagree, then changed his mind.  I still think a dead project is better than a limbo project, at least it has finality and stops costing the investors money that maybe they don't want to invest anymore.

Chairman Hall thought GBE's idea that a "favorable finding" by the PSC would convince the counties to give assent to the project "naive."

CHAIRMAN HALL: Yes, I have a few. I want to start with your alternative argument that
the Commission go through the Tartan analysis, determine that Grain Belt has met each of those factors, but then withhold issuing the certificate. Would that be an appealable decision?
MR. ZOBRIST:  I think it would be because if you construe Neighbors United to say that you cannot issue a CCN, you're making these other findings and you're simply withholding it at that point. To be honest, I really haven't thought through that. It may be -- it depends on what your language is. I think if you say that this part is final, you view it as appealable, that that might be something for us to take a look at because it may not be an appealable order until either --
CHAIRMAN HALL: I think that would be your worst-case scenario. Then you're sitting in limbo here and you can't take the order up. MR. ZOBRIST: Well, I'm being the optimist, Chairman. I'm assuming we get favorable  factual findings on the public convenience and necessity. We'd use those to go to the county commissions and say the Public Service Commission has weighed in and says the public is not going to be harmed and you should issue your county assents and then we'll be back.  Now, if you -- if you deny it, if you dismiss it, then I think --
CHAIRMAN HALL: Well, that's --

MR. ZOBRIST: Pardon me. Go ahead.
CHAIRMAN HALL: That, to be perfectly blunt, seems a little naive to me that this commission's decision on public interest is going to sway the county commissions, and so --
MR. ZOBRIST: Like I said --

CHAIRMAN HALL: I think the reality is that that would be almost your worst nightmare because then the case just sits in limbo here and you can't take it up on appeal.
MR. ZOBRIST: Well, let me put it
this way. The nightmare is if you just dismiss it out of hand because then the project's dead. The
problem -- 
CHAIRMAN HALL: I would say that's better than this because at least then -- oh, okay.   I'm sorry. I'm with you now. Keep going.

The transcript also contains derivatives of the word "baffle."  As in
I mean, I completely understand Mr. Zobrist's argument. I'm baffled by yours.
So said Chairman Hall regarding MJMEUC's argument that the ATXI decision supports the issuance of a conditional permit for GBE.

I'm thinking that the hearing did not go well for GBE.  Chairman Hall did not seem to be buying the arguments that the ATXI decision wasn't relevant to the GBE case.  In order to declare the ATXI decision inapposite, GBE would have had to distinguish itself from ATXI, and it completely failed to do so.  Instead it put forth arguments that were "naive" and "baffling" that urged the Commission to defy the courts and issue a CCN with language that tells the court their ATXI decision was wrong.  If the Missouri Supreme Court declined to do so, it's not the place of the PSC to attempt to re-interpret the law.  The law is clear, and the courts have spoken.  Done.

And speaking of specious arguments, the attorney for the Sierra Club and other parties really stepped in it.  He told the Commission,
We've also raised the possibility of a county veto being in violation of federal law, and this is based solely on my general knowledge, but it seems that local interference with interstate commerce and electricity would violate the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. The Federal Power Act gives FERC authority over interstate transmission lines. The state still has authority to regulate the siting of interstate transmission lines, but they're otherwise preempted.
This guy's "general knowledge" is flat out wrong.  The Federal Power Act only gives FERC authority over interstate transmission RATES.  It does not give them permitting or siting authority.  FERC cannot approve transmission projects.  The states have complete jurisdiction over the siting and permitting of interstate transmission lines and are not "preempted" from acting.  With this kind of stellar legal analysis, can we believe anything this guy says?  The Sierra Club needs to mind its own business and stop trying to interfere in state transmission permitting cases.  They only succeed in making themselves irrelevant.

So now it's up to the Missouri PSC to decide what to do with this case.  The ATXI decision does preclude the issuance of a CCN for GBE.  Any attempt to go around it, as suggested by GBE and its sycophants, will most likely be struck down by the courts.  GBE's attorney has to recognize this.  He seemed nearly hysterical in his anger and frustration when it appeared that he failed to convince the Commissioners to go along with his "path forward."  Remember, the nightmare isn't keeping this case in limbo, but in dismissing it.  While logical thinking says that limbo is the worst thing that could happen, for some reason GBE is looking forward to it.  It's almost as if GBE is already hanging in limbo, unable to unlock enough cash to continue operations unless it receives some sort of "favorable" opinion from the MO PSC.  It doesn't seem to matter if the favorable opinion hangs the project in legal limbo, or results in a future court vacating the favorable opinion.  It's all about having that piece of paper right now. 

The Missouri Public Service Commission holds the key to the Clean Line money vault.  Without it, the project is dead... and likely the other Clean Line projects as well.  In the wilds of Mayberry, an animal so injured it cannot recover is put out of its misery.  It's a kindness to end its suffering.  GBE is suffering.  It cannot be saved.  It's time...
<![CDATA[AEP's Shocking Arrogance Translated into Cheesy Videos]]>Fri, 28 Jul 2017 15:54:18 GMThttp://stoppathwv.com/stoppath-wv-blog/aeps-shocking-arrogance-translated-into-cheesy-videosWell, hey, hey, hey, aren't we Johnny on the Spot with our Wind Catcher Energy Connection project website, AEP!  But there seems to be some sort of discrepancy.  AEP has not provided the same information to the public on its website for the Independence Energy Connection, even though that project is several months down the road into route selection.  Independence Energy Connection's website provided very little information up until quite recently, and what's there now is so facile that it insults the intelligence of the public.

For example, this explanation of "congestion."
Right... because transmission lines are just like highways and if all the electrons can't squeeze through electric prices will go up?  You forgot to mention that the "cheaper" electricity that can't squeeze through is only "cheaper" because it can't get through.  Once your 4-lane highway is in place, all the "cheaper" energy will motor through to consumers in other places.

And Independence Energy Connection seems to be missing this collection of cheesy videos that you've provided for "property owners" on your Wind Catcher Energy Connection website.  I'm sure they apply to both projects.

After watching a few of these videos I can only conclude that AEP has absolutely NO self-awareness.  Does AEP really think these videos will appeal to and reassure landowners that everything is going to be hunky dory?  The technique of using multiple actors to recite talking points and finish each other's sentences is annoying.  I'm not sure what presenting your information in that format was supposed to accomplish.  Are the public supposed to find someone they identify with in the video and listen to their 10 words of information and reject the rest recited by the other people they don't like the looks of?  Honestly, some of these guys look like deer in the headlights.  If they're not comfortable presenting information, then the viewer is not comfortable receiving it.  Or is the viewer supposed to feel like they're outnumbered and the only one going against the program?  Whatever technique you were going for, I don't think it works.

And that's because of the actual information recited. 

Such as this one, where AEP says they control what you can do on your land and you'll need AEP's permission to use it.

Or this one, where AEP lists all the things you might want to do with your land that they consider "encroachments."  AEP will monitor what you do and may "insist" that "encroachments" be removed.

This one may be most shocking... because AEP calmly tells you how you may be shocked while around or under their high-voltage transmission lines.  But it's not a risk to you.  It just might be a bit uncomfortable.  Forever.  It's all perfectly safe.

So, let's see here... AEP has just told property owners being asked to host new transmission lines that AEP will become Big Brother to monitor what goes on on their properties forevermore, insist that they remove anything AEP doesn't like, and that they're probably going to be "nuisance" shocked constantly.   Well, gosh, AEP, sign me up!!!

And AEP wonders why property owners oppose their projects?

One last thing, AEP.  I sort of hate to play the race card and all, but why are all the people in your videos white, except for that lone token black guy?  That's not what a cross-section of America looks like, in case that's what you were attempting.

AEP just keeps kicking itself in the butt.  Nice going, knuckleheads!
<![CDATA[Why Buy the Milk When You Can Own the Cow?]]>Thu, 27 Jul 2017 19:50:58 GMThttp://stoppathwv.com/stoppath-wv-blog/why-buy-the-milk-when-you-can-own-the-cowHave you often wondered why Clean Line Energy Partners doesn't have any customers for its transmission projects?

Clean Line proposes to build a transmission line and sell capacity on the line to load serving entities who want to buy power from future wind facilities and ship it east to serve their retail customers.

But what if that load serving entity already owned a bunch of its own generation and transmission assets... would buying one more generator and building one more transmission line be no big deal?

Utilities make money by owning physical assets like transmission lines and regulated generators that allow them to shift the costs and risks to captive customers and earn a guaranteed return (or profit) on their ownership.

Clean Line wanted to make money just like any utility by owning a profitable asset.  Except other utilities would much rather own the transmission (and generation) asset themselves and collect a return.  It's sort of like the difference between paying rent and ownership, and ownership comes with a guaranteed return on your investment.  What's not to like for big utilities who want to purchase generators and transmission lines to serve their geographically distant customers?

This article explains how utilities are cutting out the middleman wind farm and transmission line owner in favor of scoring the biggest profit.

Yup, AEP has announced that it wants to buy the country's largest wind farm currently under construction and build a transmission line from the wind farm to its customers.  I'm guessing AEP doesn't want to buy transmission capacity from Clean Line and then hope generation springs up at its terminus.  The risks of that are that Clean Line will never actually be permitted and financed to build any transmission, or that the wind farms won't be built, or that prices will be much higher than expected if they actually do.  Utilities hate risk.

But AEP is no hero and its $4.5B plan has an uphill regulatory battle as it seeks to stick customers with the risks of its renewable energy plays.  AEP figures its plan will save customers in four states $7 billion, most through use of federal production tax credits for wind.  Ahhhh... AEP.... did you stop to apply any simple logic to that idea?  Where do you think federal production tax credits come from?  They come from taxpayers.  They're not cash that just falls out of the sky when a wind turbine spins.  So, those customers who receive $7B in savings are also paying into a tax system that creates the savings.  How much do customers actually save when the tax burden of creating the credits gets added into the equation?  How many other taxpayers around the country that don't receive any of AEP's $7B savings are going to be subsidizing this artificial savings house of cards?  And what happens to a wind farm with a 25-year lifespan when a 10-year tax subsidy expires?  What are the savings then?  This plan may never come to fruition.

But it stands a much better chance than Clean Line's plan.  It's interesting that AEP's ginormous wind farm is located in exactly the spot Clean Line claimed independently owned wind farms to support its Plains & Eastern Clean Line would spring up. 
I'm thinking this announcement pretty much makes what Clean Line is peddling even less appealing.  Did AEP ask Clean Line to build a converter station near Tulsa to deliver power from a wind farm in the panhandle?  Of course not!  If AEP builds its own transmission line, it can earn anywhere between 9-12% annual return on its investment, plus have all its operating costs fully covered by ratepayers.

This is why you failed, Clean Line.  Why buy the milk when you can own the cow?
<![CDATA[Not Even Environmentalists Love Transmission Lines "For Wind" Through Their Own Little Slice of Paradise]]>Wed, 26 Jul 2017 19:29:58 GMThttp://stoppathwv.com/stoppath-wv-blog/not-even-environmentalists-love-transmission-lines-for-wind-through-their-own-little-slice-of-paradiseWe're going to start here.  Play this song and turn up the volume.
Karma gave me a giggle last week when I read a story about the Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line proposed for Wisconsin and Iowa.  The project, one of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator's (MISO) multi-value projects designed to increase the distribution of wind power across the region, is being panned by Howard Learner of the Environmental Law and Policy Center.
"The world has changed since MISO began this," said Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center, with offices in Chicago and Madison, serving as attorney for the Driftless Area organization. "It's sort of like saying it's important to build more telephone wires and poles to serve the additional landlines that people in Middleton and Cross Plains are going to use, and then all of a sudden, cell phones came in."
Learner, who has a home near Spring Green, said upgrades to local power lines would be more appropriate than a huge transmission line that will carry electricity produced by fossil fuel and nuclear plants, as well as wind power.
"This is not the right place ... unless it's absolutely needed to keep the lights on, and this line is not needed for that purpose," Learner said.

Oh, Learner has a home near Spring Green, you say?  Gosh, that's dangerously close to Cardinal-Hickory Creek's proposed route, isn't it?

So, now, after years of supporting other big transmission projects "for wind" across other states (see list of "supporters" at bottom of page), Learner has finally seen the light.  Can we get a Hallelujah, brothers and sisters?

"It's not the right place..." if it's near Howard's little slice of paradise.  But it is the right place if it's near someone else's.  Got it.

I think Howard might be a hypocrite.

Here's wishing a transmission line "for wind" in every environmentalist's backyard!  Perhaps then we can get on with real progress, like distributed generation and upgrading local power lines to distribute locally generated renewables.  That might REALLY change the world!
<![CDATA[Significantly Wrinkled and Headed to its Grave, Grain Belt Express Hopes for a Miracle]]>Wed, 26 Jul 2017 17:55:06 GMThttp://stoppathwv.com/stoppath-wv-blog/significantly-wrinkled-and-headed-to-its-grave-grain-belt-express-hopes-for-a-miracleThere is no miracle that can save Grain Belt Express.  Legally, it has no leg to stand on.  No matter how many Letters to the Editor that fail to recognize the legal straightjacket GBE finds itself in, and no matter how many Editorials crafted by bombastic opinion, and no matter how many legal briefs that attempt to slice and dice legal precedent to allow PSC approval of GBE, the fact remains that Grain Belt Express cannot be approved without the assent of Missouri County Commissions it proposes to cross.

It's Missouri law, and the court has spoken.

The arguments of Grain Belt and its supporters are simply rehashed crap that didn't work at the Court of Appeals nor at the Missouri Supreme Court.  From that one can surmise that if the same issue is presented to the court again in the form of a "conditional" permit issued for GBE, that the Courts will issue an identical opinion.  GBE's attempts to distinguish itself from Ameren are  desperate and deeply flawed.

Is that all you got, Clean Line?

The threats to take a denial through state and federal court are empty, right?  I mean, where are you going to get the money to pursue a hopeless state court case, not to mention a very expensive federal court case?

Clean Line no longer has a "team."  Now it only has "leaders."  After years of presenting a pictorial parade of every Clean Line employee, right down to the administrative staff who will never deal with the public, did it just become too embarrassing to have the public watching the ever-shrinking "team" at Clean Line?  Did the big lay-off happen the day "our team" disappeared?  If I call Houston, will one of the "leaders" answer the phone, if they're not busy making coffee or taking out the trash?  I hope Jayshree isn't stuck with phone and coffee duty, just because she's the only woman left on the "team."  That wouldn't be quite fair.

Clean Line's lack of any forward momentum on any of its projects makes me believe that the piggy bank is darn near empty.

If the MO PSC denies or dismisses GBE's application, I think that's all she wrote.

And will the history books reflect the demise of Clean Line accurately?  The only thing that ever stood between Clean Line and success was its careless disregard for landowners and local governments.  Perhaps it was simple greed that prevented Clean Line from allowing participating landowners a piece of the pie commensurate with their sacrifice.  And perhaps it was sheer arrogance that caused Clean Line to think that it could buy enough political influence to run over Mayberrian officials.  Whatever the cause, the effect will be fatal.

"Clean" lines were not well planned, and instead of applying the Golden Rule that any outsider can easily see permeates Mayberrian society and adjusting their plan to produce a successful outcome for everyone, I guess Clean Line's greed and arrogance got the better of them.

It's time for this circus tent to come down.