PJM and its decisions are controlled by the financial interests of their largest and most powerful members to the detriment of smaller, weaker members. PATH partner AEP was PJM's largest member for a long time, but AEP's reign of terror is lately challenged by the FirstEnergy empire that recently swallowed AEP's little buddy and PATH partner, Allegheny Energy. We're not very far from the elementary school playground social pecking order at PJM, are we?
PATH opponents have identified many instances of blatant PJM bias in favor of the PATH project, and against any alternatives, during the past 3 years. But, it's not just us. Last year, eight Consumer Advocates from various states joined together to accuse PJM of bias in evaluating alternatives to the PATH project.
We got so curious once, we drove to Delaware to sit through a couple hours of one of PJM's meetings. I couldn't help comparing PJM to a dysfunctional Jerry Springer Show family.
Now PJM has been accused of bias once again. A group of smaller members calling themselves the Competitive Markets Coalition has accused PJM's Members Committee of unfair and biased actions that could cause PJM to "become an exclusive club which only traditional utilities and large companies can afford to join." According to the Coalition, "This would greatly reduce
market competition and market liquidity, resulting in higher consumer electricity prices and a far more volatile market."
I'm not going to get into an analysis of the issues here. The PJM behavioral aspects of this latest complaint are quite telling and much more interesting. Although it was a different meeting, different committee, the Coalition describes some of the exact same behavior I observed last year.
- "The stakeholder process used here demonstrated a pattern of favoring powerful and well-established groups in PJM..."
- "...this meeting was a sham. The Chairman did everything possible to prevent a full and fair Stakeholder consideration and voting process at the meeting. Unfortunately PJM Staff sat silently, allowing Stakeholder rights to be ignored and violated. It is noteworthy that the PJM sponsored proposal was the beneficiary of this grossly unfair Stakeholder process."
- "My presentation of the Coalition proposal was repeatedly interrupted and frustrated by the Chairman."
- "Further, on several occasions he spoke over me and other Stakeholders in an effort to prevent our saying anything negative about the PJM proposal;"
- "Stakeholder comments and questions, either in support of the Coalition proposal or questioning the PJM proposal, were severely limited by the Chairman. No Stakeholder discussion of the PJM proposal was permitted beyond a few "clarifying" questions. In one case a questioner on the phone was simply cut off."
- "It is hard to view what occurred as anything other than an ambush."
- "Finally, when both AEP and a group of municipality members submitted their own Officer Certification proposals at the meeting, the Chairman raised no objections to these proposals being voted on, and did not interrupt their presentations."
- "Perhaps most troubling, at no time did anyone from PJM intervene..."
- "As this summary shows, the Members Committee meeting on June 14th was no Stakeholder process at all. It appeared to be a meeting "wired" in advance to make sure no actual debate or discussion on the competing proposals could occur, and that the PJM proposal would prevail."
- "Not only was the meeting inconsistent with the consideration process directed by FERC in Order 741 but, like the PJM proposal itself, had the effect of disenfranchising many smaller companies and new market entrants in PJM."
How many different individuals need to yell "FIRE!" in a crowded theater before someone notices that the curtains are ablaze?
It's nice to see that the small and weak are banding together to overthrow their oppressor. Shall we all sing for them?
The cartel dynamic isn't working. It's time for a change in how we plan our electric grid before we're all sitting in the dark while PJM's "children" bicker and stab each other in the back.