Bill has a pretty good general overview over on TPL. This is his initial reaction to the order, and it echos mine as well. While it appears that this order is going to work against the PATH project, it's encouraging AEP's "national grid" fantasy. FERC believes we need a whole bunch of new transmission lines hundreds of miles long to pump western renewables to coastal population centers and to increase long distance energy trading (Enron? Hello?). As you all know, spending billions to transport power hundreds of miles, when local renewables that don't require new transmission lines are available, is inefficient and uneconomic. Off-shore wind is located within 10 miles of population centers, and I read something recently that said existing transmission networks can handle the additional power generated by off-shore projects. Instead of the east coast's power traveling from the west, it should come from the east. Of course, that would spell disaster for our coal-burning buddies, wouldn't it? Heh, heh, heh!!
FERC states that their new transmission planning and cost allocation order will "...benefit consumers by enhancing the grid’s ability to support wholesale power markets and ensuring transmission services are provided at just and reasonable rates." However, think about it while applying a little logic. FERC is promoting billions of dollars worth of new transmission infrastructure (plus incentive payoffs to the energy companies) that needs to be paid for. It's going to be paid for by YOU. The first place I went in Order No. 1000 was the Commission Determination on their new cost allocation process. Here are the six new principles of cost allocation:
- Costs are to be allocated to those who benefit roughly commensurate with identifiable benefits received. Some of these benefits are: reliability & sharing reserves, production cost savings, congestion relief and meeting public policy goals. Sounds great, doesn't it? However here are a couple of things that bug me. First, FERC prattles on about the "benefits of an interconnected transmission grid." Scared yet? Here's another: In determining "benefits," power companies/RTOs can use "likely future scenarios." To quote the Order, "Scenario analysis is a common feature of electric power system planning, and we believe that public utility transmission providers are in the best position to apply it in a way that achieves appropriate results in their respective transmission planning regions." Now you're crouched in the corner doing some primal screaming, aren't you? That's right, they can make up some fictional "scenario" whereby you might "benefit" from their project and assign you costs NOW. That sounds fair, doesn't it?
- No involuntary allocation of costs to non-beneficiaries. A beneficiary is one who causes costs, or benefits from the facility (transmission line). No, this doesn't mean you can refuse to pay your electric bill, this is all going on between the power companies, the RTOs and FERC. Nobody cares what you think, little ratepayer stakeholder.
- The benefit to cost ratio for selecting projects by an RTO cannot be higher than 1.25. This means that your "benefits" must be at least .25 higher than the cost of the project that is selected. However, this is no guarantee because this principle is merely intended to ensure that RTOs don't set too high a threshold for competing projects. I just can't wait to see what kind of "PATH MATH" (lying with numbers) turns up in these benefit/cost ratios.
- Costs cannot be allocated to another region without voluntary agreement. (Again, not YOUR agreement, silly!)
- The method for determining benefits/beneficiaries must be transparent and provide adequate documentation that will allow stakeholders to determine how it was applied. (Again, you're not a "stakeholder"!)
- Different cost allocation methods may be created for different types of facilities (projects): Reliability, Congestion or Public Policy.
Anyhow, that's only the tip of the iceberg. I'm sure there's lots more goodies in Order No. 1000 I haven't gotten to yet. I hear there's some "backstop" provision in the planning section that will cause an evaluation of alternatives in the event of a stalled project. Sounds good... probably will end up being bad, but that's fodder for another day when I find the time to finish reading Order No. 1000. My advice... get yourself off the grid ASAP! That's where I'm heading and I hope you join me in my monthly giggle-fest when I don't get a whopping electric bill that pays for Mikey's "national grid." If we make our off-the-grid club big enough, there won't be anyone left to pay for the national grid and all the power companies left holding the bag will go belly-up. You don't have to finance this ludicrous expenditure. Your own power generating system is within your grasp.
In other news: Today the WV PSC Consumer Advocate Division filed a scathing rebuttal to the power companies' answers to the Staff's Petition to require a report of the condition of their transmission systems in our state. Bill has the scoop here. I'm trying to decide what my favorite part is. Initially, I got a kick out of how he lambasted PJM for their bias, but maybe that's only because I was right at the point in the draft of StopPATH's Transmission Incentives NOI comments where I call PJM a cartel... That Transco thing was pretty good too... What's your favorite?
And speaking of Transmission Incentives comments to FERC, are you working on yours? They are due a month from today, so get busy!! If you need help, go here. As you can see, FERC needs a little consumer education from the consumers and it appears that this NOI is actually a spin-off from Order No. 1000. Get writing, folks!
And finally, go check out Bill's analysis of what's going on with PJM's strawman planning process. Thanks, Bill! One less thing for me to do! As he points out in his post, The Sierra Club, Piedmont Environmental Council and EarthJustice are acting on our concerns at PJM. So, if you're a PATH opponent who is wondering what to do with your money now that the project is stalled and we're no longer funneling all our spare cash to a lawyer and experts, why not show these organizations a little love of the green variety? Bill's got his comments turned on now -- you can post a comment (unless, like me, you suddenly find yourself speechless).
And last, but not least, come check out what's going on at the Coalition for Reliable Power. We're planning a series of public meetings next month intended to empower "Potomac Edison" customers to improve that farce of an energy efficiency program they proposed in WV. Hope to see you all there!
And now I'm going to go crawl back in my hole and get back to work on all these rotten projects sitting on my desk. Thanks, PATH, you're a real PAL!