Trade press suck-up Transmission Hub gathered the most benighted opinions it could find to create Potential PATH and MAPP cancellations unlikely to have cascading effects. All of these sources are unfamiliar with the transmission projects and PJM's transmission planning process, and apparently PJM's reasons for canceling the projects as well.
PJM canceled the projects because demand has fallen and new generation has been planned closer to load. This scenario isn't unique to PJM or the DC metro area. It's happening all over the country because the way we produce and use energy is in a state of flux. Consumers are becoming more energy efficient, which is a change that is permanent, despite PJM's posturing about "the economy." Consumers are also investing in their own smart, power producing investments by deploying their own solar or other home-based renewable energy generation systems. Small-scale, local renewables are being developed, which opens the door to a distributed generation future. What is distributed generation? It's the development of many small generators located as close to load as possible. Distributed generation provides real reliability due to its ability to pull power from a network of local resources. If one generator is down, it simply pulls from another located close by. In contrast, interstate transmission lines rely on large-scale, centralized generation and the wheeling of power over long distances. The greater the distance electricity must travel, the greater the risk of transmission failure. Relying on just a few large, centralized generators is also risky. Real reliability cannot be found in utility scale renewables shipped hundreds or thousands of miles from the point of generation. This is why transmission projects are failing, and the cascade of failure will continue.
The for-profit utilities are scared. A distributed generation future means their old business model (and their companies, unless they adapt to change) will die. They are currently engaged in a scheme to secure a new foothold in centralized generation and re-purpose themselves as energy traders by investing in a new web of unneeded transmission lines, ostensibly to transport "wind" from the central part of the country to both coasts where the majority of the load is located. The Transmission Hub article tells these silly utilities what they want to hear, and not the truth they need to hear. Let's take a look at some of the stupidity behind the opinions in the article.
Jimmy Glotfelty, executive vice president of external affairs for Clean Line Energy, tries to greenwash the PATH project and re-purpose it to transport the "wind" his company intends to move from the Midwest via a series of merchant HVDC lines that total thousands of miles and will cost billions of dollars.
“At least one of these lines would be beneficial for satisfying state public policy goals, moving renewable energy from west to east,” Glotfelty said.
He was joined in his preposterous pity party by Jolly Hayden, mouthpiece for land-based wind's front group.
"He added that it would make sense for PJM to delay a decision on the PATH and MAPP lines until after the compliance filing, in order to take into consideration states' public policy goals.
If PJM's board of managers does ultimately approve the staff's recommendation and shelve the projects, MAPP and PATH may nevertheless need to be revisited, Glotfelty and Hayden said.
“I don't believe for a second that these projects will never be built,” Glotfelty said. “I believe they'll be back on the board – at least one of them will be – in the near future. The question is why should an RTO have it in a transmission plan for a couple of years and then pull it? If it's going to get put back in or if there's a likelihood it's going to be back in, shouldn’t you just get on with it now?”
Furthermore, as conditions within PJM have changed to the potential detriment of PATH and MAPP, they may change later in favor of the projects.
“In the end, this is why entities like PJM were created – to look at the big picture, on a regional basis, and decide what infrastructure is needed at the moment,” Hayden said. “Certainly, PJM should not shut the door on these projects for good. Moving forward, the need to enhance our transmission system is still very much there.”
Let's examine Glotfelty's "clean" line business model. These transmission projects will be privately funded by investors and rely on there being an economic need to transport the product. Merchant lines are purely speculative ventures. They build a transmission line and then sell "subscriptions" to generators on one end and load serving entities on the other. In order to sell the electricity, the product would have to be cheaper than competing sources at load. Glotfelty is pushing a "clean" wind-only product, however, when one of his projects recently asked FERC if they could give preference to "renewable" generation subscribers, FERC denied their request.
"We do not approve, however, Rock Island’s request to apply a preference for energy from renewable resources in its open season. Rock Island argues generally that public policy considerations and its need to attract support from stakeholders such as environmental organizations justify such a renewable energy preference. We find that Rock Island’s general arguments do not sufficiently explain how distinctions between renewable energy resources and other types of generators justify its requested preferential treatment in an open season for initial transmission capacity. The Commission has not previously approved the inclusion of a preference for energy from renewable resources in a transmission owner’s open season criteria, and Rock Island has failed to provide sufficient justification to do so here."
So, how can Glotfelty guarantee a "clean" product that will meet state public policy goals at the load end of the line and would justify the higher price of electricity transported by these "clean" lines? Answer - he can't. The "clean" lines will be subscribed by cheaper coal-fired generation strategically located near the Powder River Basin, and deliver it to the big cities at a higher cost than dirty electricity sourced from more localized coal-fired generators. Glotfelty believes that PJM should either continue to hold the PATH project in suspension, or just go ahead and build it anyhow, so that it will be there in the future to serve as a convenient highway to transport his dirty product to Maryland. However, Glotfelty's "clean" line is a dirty lie, and "Clean" Line Energy's business model is an impossible dream that will never become reality. Wake up, Jimmy, PATH is not needed, for your projects that will never become reality, or for any other reason.