PJM's planning process was getting the stuffing kicked out of it by experts during state transmission line application processes. Therefore, the transmission line project chefs at PJM decided to change their recipe.
They've begun stuffing a new dummy, their strawman, and there's lots of goodies to be had if you can navigate PJM's website maze to find them.
PJM's recipe for a new planning process is kind of like making soup out of all the leftovers in the fridge... little bit of this, little bit of that, just dump it all in and hope the result doesn't poison your dinner guests.
So, what ingredients is PJM dumping in the soup? Demand response, at-risk generation, individual state RPS goals, new econometric drivers and load forecasts. Is PJM's soup going to be delicious, or is it going to more closely resemble something the dog ralphed up behind the sofa? It's going to be incredibly complicated, that's for sure. I guess that means that "the stakeholders" (the power companies who stand to profit from new transmission projects) think it will be harder to tear apart during future transmission line cases. However, the downside will be that a process with so many loose threads will also be harder to defend and easier for experts to unravel.
Mike Morris thinks that retirement of at-risk generation is going to create a new need for his PATH zombie. In Mikey's dream, all the at-risk generation (old, dirty power plants that are hardly ever used and can't meet new EPA rules) being retired is located in eastern PJM. If a whole bunch of generation was retired on the east coast, Mikey thinks PATH is the solution to the east's need for generation. However, all the at-risk generation is not located solely on the east coast. The eastern states are also gearing up to tap into the enormous potential of offshore wind, which is located conveniently within just a few miles of the load, instead of the thousands of miles away where Mikey's midwest wind is located.
Is Mikey salivating at the prospect of individual state RPS goals being thrown into the planning process to create a need for his midwest wind? Perhaps... but PJM would be opening a huge can of worms with that one. If individual state RPS goals create a need for renewables that cannot be generated within that state's borders and have to be transported to the state from hundreds or thousands of miles away, who is going to pay for the transmission project? Does PJM think that postage stamp rates will apply whereby all ratepayers in PJM will pay a share of the cost of transmission projects required by Delaware or Maryland or New Jersey laws? Who is PJM to impose the laws of a single state on the ratepayers and citizens of a different state? I think PJM is going to find themselves in court for years while all their transmission projects stall, sputter and die. PJM cannot impose the laws of one state onto the citizens of another state who have no say in the creation of the other state's laws. So, unless all the new transmission projects to meet RPS goals are completely contained within and paid for by the individual state, it's a recipe for disaster.
There's also another chef trying to butt into PJM's kitchen and help them stir the soup. The Public Interest & Environmental Organizations Users Group wants to help with the cooking and has some different ideas about recipe ingredients, like non-transmission alternatives. Who is the PIEOUG? Their roster is impressive, however PJM has stuck them out in left field, where they can't really have any effect on what the cartel's "stakeholders" decide PJM is going to do.
The PIEOUG has some good ideas, but the Consumer Advocates in the group (notice that WV has no representation in this group?) think they should be much more important and have their own little clique within PJM to keep an eye on things... paid for by you. According to the Consumer Advocates, "Consumer advocate offices play a unique role in state and federal regulation because they are designated by the laws of their respective jurisdictions to represent the interests of retail utility customers." Do any of you retail utility customers feel that your state Consumer Advocate actually cares what you think or wants to hear from you? They want to do their jobs without your interference, little consumer. They're advocating for the consumers as a whole, and individual concerns don't matter, therefore they exclude all individual concerns as irrelevant. The concerns of the whole are made up of the concerns of the individuals, however the Consumer Advocates prefer to determine your concerns by interacting with industry and ignoring you. Where were the Consumer Advocates when Ali Haverty and I investigated PATH's expenditures last year and filed a Formal Challenge with FERC earlier this year? Why haven't they uttered so much as a squeak about the over recovery and imprudent expenses that their consumers have paid for? Where have the consumer advocates been while PATH attempts to continue utilizing their formula rate to recover additional project expenses from the consumers for a project that is never going to happen? Dead silence. Our interests as ratepayers are now being represented by The Sierra Club. Forget asking your consumer advocate to advocate for you... just join The Sierra Club! Your consumer advocate doesn't care about you... it's all about them and their fantasies about what your needs are. The Consumer Advocates spend way too much of their time getting chummy with the industry so they can cut deals and hang out in parking lots with industry attorneys and take pictures of the consumers' cars. The Consumer Advocates would do better to clean their own house before they try to clean up PJM's. The Consumer Advocates should first set up an organization in their own state to interact with and hear the concerns of the consumers they supposedly advocate for. It's pretty hard to advocate for someone you know nothing about and don't communicate with. Instead, they're trying to create just one more layer of corruption at PJM that keeps the ultimate "stakeholder" -- YOU -- from having any say in transmission projects that you end up funding.
Who knows what PJM's soup is going to taste like when they're done cleaning out the fridge? The correct answer is... nobody! Megalomaniacs like Mikey assume it's going to taste great! However, Mikey and the PJM cartel are going to have to eat it, no matter what it ends up tasting like. Unfortunately, as the cartel's wallet, we're ultimately going to have to eat it too.