Forbes "contributor" Ken Silverstein tells us that "Utilities would have an easier time building transmission lines if it were not for a feisty public, which generally feels that those ugly lines ought to be built somewhere else."
Really? This guys bills himself as "editor-in-chief for Energy Central's EnergyBiz Insider. With a background in economics and public policy, I've spent two decades writing about the issues that touch the energy and financial sectors. My EnergyBiz column has twice been named Best Online Column by two different media organizations." However, his NIMBY name calling merely showcases his complete ignorance of the dynamics of current transmission policy debate. Is he really this clueless, or is he merely posturing for the crowd to parrot power company propaganda?
Let's take a look at just a few of the facts Silverstein gets wrong:
1. "...the transmission grid is aging and it needs to be updated and expanded so that it can fulfill the needs of consumers — many of whom don’t want those unsightly lines near them."
WRONG! The transmission grid was not designed to wheel energy from coast to coast to fill the pockets of greedy traders. The industry is not spending enough capital "upgrading" for any real need, but has been banging its head against a brick wall attempting to "expand." Let's look at just one example: While PATH was shooting blanks attempting to get its new build project approved, Dominion slipped in and quietly punked AEP/FirstEnergy with the rebuild of an existing line that completely obviated the PATH project.
Consumer issues center on NEED and COST. It's not about NIMBY anymore. How loud do you suppose Silverstein would squeal if someone routed a transmission line through his own backyard? Silverstein loves new transmission... as long as there's no personal sacrifice on his part involved and it's not in his backyard, therefore, Silverstein is the real NIMBY.
2. "Inevitably, disputes emerge that typically center on the potential ecological harm that a given line may take. In other instances, the arguments are that the development is occurring in states that will not get the benefit of the added electricity, or that it would increase the usage of coal.
Such was the case when American Electric Power and FirstEnergy Corp. tried to build the so-called Potomac Appalachian Transmission High-Line, which would have stretched 275 miles from West Virginia into Maryland. The PJM Interconnection, which coordinates the transmission planning for the MidAtlantic states, has now withdrawn the project. It has done the same for Pepco Holding’s Mid-Atlantic Power Pathway, although both concepts could get resurrected once the economy is in full swing."
WRONG! PJM cancelled the PATH project because it was not needed, not because of cost allocation, environmental or coal-related issues. The opposition to PATH was ALWAYS based on the fact that the project was not needed.
PATH and MAPP are not going to be "resurrected," and neither is an energy-wasting economy that increases energy demand. Consumers in the PJM region are already on the hook for the quarter billion dollars wasted developing the unneeded PATH project, a project that will never provide consumers with any benefits. None. Zero. PATH and MAPP were part of an industry money-making scheme named Project Mountaineer and were never needed for reliability or market efficiency.
3. "While the concerns and the subsequent legal battles are well intended, they oftentimes perpetuate uncertainty. That is, investors are skeptical because they can make more money in alternative investments while the delays impede reliability. And if brownouts or rolling blackouts occur, the financial toll can mount."
WRONG! Brownouts and blackouts? I haven't heard that kind of fear-mongering since PATH got shelved. Get a grip, Silverstein. You and I both know that is NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN. Silverstein goes on about new transmission needed for renewables and then tosses in the blackouts invective? Sorry, but the lights will not go out if renewables can't be transported coast-to-coast.
Investors are salivating at the prospect of plunking their dollars into transmission investments making double-digit returns, despite the industry's "the sky is falling" whining. As well, transmission projects can and do request formula rates and incentives that provide them with a continual return during the development and construction period. There's absolutely no risk to transmission investors. None. Zero.
Maybe Silverstein should do some research before he approaches a keyboard in the future. There's plenty of information to be had on this website. Maybe Silverstein could learn a few things about his topic here? And maybe, just maybe, he might want to consult a consumer before writing more folderol about what they want.