Now big wind has joined with big green to push an agenda they have dubbed "America's Power Plan."
What's the surest way to tell you're the victim of propaganda? Use of the word "America" as a shroud to hide financial or political goals and make you think that everyone else is on board with it. It's deployment of the most classic propaganda devices in an attempt to control you. Just say no.
"America's" Power Plan has been developed by environmental groups and transmission developers to inform the public what landowners and consumers want in an attempt to influence energy policy. No actual landowners or consumers were consulted in the creation of this "plan." "America's" Power Plan doesn't represent the plan of "America." It's simply a vehicle for environmental group leadership to check a few renewable energy boxes and for transmission developers to make money. Lots of it.
This farce has been perpetrated by funding from the Energy Foundation, which is a shady front group whose own source of funds is unclear. What is clear, however, is how much this "foundation" meddles in both foreign and domestic policy in order to meet goals that may not be shared by "America." They've got plenty of money to give away to groups who agree to do their bidding, including the creators of "America's" Power Plan.
The greenwashers leading the pack here are the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). Stop supporting this organization. It stopped listening to the public a long, long time ago and now merely exists inside its own little political echo chamber where its well-paid employees tell themselves that greenwashing greedy corporate initiatives that may not be in the best interest of "America" is "saving the planet." After all, their big salaries are paid for by the very energy interests whose initiatives they facilitate with their support and "green" promotion.
And here's NRDC's gushing praise of their own big lie. NRDC insists that their plan for siting "120 megawatt-miles" (that's enough to almost completely replace all existing transmission) of new transmission at a cost of "$6B per year until 2050" (that's $220 Billion dollars of electric ratepayer debt) will make ranchers and farmers see the light and welcome the destruction of their businesses by new transmission lines.
The siting plan, entitled "Finding a Home for Renewable Energy and Transmission" (aww, sounds like a huggable pound puppy who just wants your love, doesn't it?) pretends that landowners are on board with this "plan." However, no actual landowners or consumer groups were consulted in its development, despite the plan's claim that:
"Reform must reflect a new approach to siting — one that recognizes the effect wholesale power markets have on transmission planning, and one that meets the needs of landowners, wildlife and society as well as project sponsors and investors."
It seems that they managed to get everyone else to the table to approve this plan, except the landowners, which can only mean that the landowners are the ones getting the shaft here. Without buy in of affected landowners, "America's" Power Plan fails.
This is not a Landowner or Consumer Plan!
Co-authors and reviewers of this plan include representatives of environmental groups, the benighted Center for Rural Affairs (who has strayed far afield from its original focus on independent farmers, in favor of corporate financial interests), political and business interests, and transmission owners and developers, such as Jimmy Glotfelty from Clean Line Energy Partners. Ooops... sorry.... did I say a bad word?
Where are the landowners and consumers? They aren't part of this "America."
I could go on for pages about the stupid contentions, condescending clap trap, and sheer arrogance contained in the siting plan, but instead I'm just going to concentrate on the "plan" to have landowners clamoring to host new transmission infrastructure.
"Additionally, decision-makers must pay special
consideration to private land owners. Private landowners
play an invaluable though often overlooked role in
the siting and construction of both generation and
transmission infrastructure. Particularly in the Eastern
Interconnection, transmission projects are built almost
exclusively on private land. How landowners are treated
throughout this process can determine whether projects
are more rapidly approved and developed or delayed
and even halted."
Here are the plan's six new options for willingly giving up your property for transmission development. All six of them read like ways for transmission developers to simply swoop in and collect the gold after neighbors have been pitted against each other in a greedy battle to assemble rights-of-way, where the financial wants of the few trump the property rights of the many. If you find anything in here that you, as a landowner, think is viable, please let us know. The landowners who've looked at it so far think it's just more unworkable, heavy-handed land theft. Maybe if the authors had actually consulted some landowners affected by transmission projects when writing their "plan," they would have found that out before publishing this, instead of after.
• Special Purpose Development
Corporations (SPDCs) focus on providing
landowners with another option for
just compensation. The condemning
authority creates an SPDC, allowing
the landowner to choose between two
options. Landowners can either opt
to receive the traditional fair market
value for the parcel or they can elect to
receive shares in the SPDC. The value
of these shares is commensurate with
the fair market value of the parcel the
landowner has committed to the project.
The condemning authority then sells
the SPDC to a transmission developer
at auction. The sale increases the value
of the SPDC, and the landowners’
shares are transferrable on the open
market. Each shareholder is entitled to
project dividends. The result is that the
landowners’ compensation is tied directly
to market value, unlike traditional “just
compensation.” By giving landowners
a stake in the project’s success, things
can move more quickly and fairly. This
framework is applicable to utility-owned
transmission projects; a merchant
developer does not have a mechanism
for recovering equity dilution from
rates and may instead prefer to offer
landowners annual payments tied to
• Landowner Associations refer to groups
of landowners that come together with
a shared interest. These associations
have been particularly successful
for wind development, and are also
suitable for shorter transmission lines.
Each participating landowner is given
a proportional share of ownership in
the association based on the amount
of land they want to make available
for development. As an association,
landowners then approach developers
for projects. Members of the association
that physically host turbines or
transmission infrastructure are given
a premium, but all members of the
association receive a portion of profits.
• Tender Offer Taking enables developers
to test landowner interest in several
corridors by drawing proposed
boundaries for a given project, and
offering an above-market price for all
landowners within the boundary. The
developer then confidentially monitors
acceptance, and goes forward with the
project once a predetermined threshold
is met (applying eminent domain
authority to any remaining holdouts). If
the threshold is not met, the developer
shifts attention to a different corridor.
Tender offer taking is well-suited to large
projects that can be broken into discrete
• Good Neighbor Payments represent
ongoing payments to landowners that
are near enough to a new project that it
affects them even if it does not require
taking over their land. For example,
wind farm opposition sometimes comes
not from direct landowners but from
neighbors who are affected; thus wind
developers often pay neighbors annually
for noise impact. This concept could be
applied to transmission development
by providing annual payments to
aesthetically affected landowners and
neighbors. In the case of a landowner,
good neighbor payments would be in
addition to any easement negotiation
made. Developers could also pay bonus
payments to farmers who are affected by
infrastructure on the land they cultivate.
• Self-assessment enables landowners
to report the value of their land once
a plan to condemn is announced. The
landowner’s tax liability is then adjusted
to the reported value. The condemning
authority then decides whether to
take the land at the reported price
or look elsewhere. If the developer
chooses to look elsewhere, the
landowner is thereafter prohibited from
transferring his land for less than the
announced value. This solution allows
the landowner to assign a personal
value to the benefit or deterrent of
hosting new infrastructure. A variation
of self-assessment involves an opt-in
mechanism whereby a landowner can
choose to receive a property tax break in
exchange for agreeing to be subjected to
• Annual payments allow landowners
directly impacted by transmission
projects to receive compensation tied
to the amount of power transmitted on
the line. Under this scenario, payments
are distributed each year the project is
in service. Payments can be adjusted
yearly, to account for inflation, and
can be augmented in the event that
the agreed upon right of way is used
for an additional purpose. Annual
payments could provide the landowner
with a greater sense of ownership in
the project, decrease the incidence
of landowner holdouts and ensure
compensation commensurate with the
growing value of land. The Colorado-based
Rocky Mountain Farmers Union
has proposed a version of this concept
for both transmission and wind farm
Anything in that list change your mind about having to operate your business around transmission lines and towers? Anything in there that makes the taking of private property by eminent domain for the private profit of transmission developers more palatable? Didn't think so.
Did you see anything in there about how consumers or regulators have agreed to pay even more for new transmission in order to compensate landowners to their satisfaction? Or about the cost effectiveness of land-based utility scale renewables when landowners are compensated satisfactorily? Nope, me neither.
FAIL, "America," FAIL!
The plan also says if cooperation fails, then it's time to threaten states with a process that no longer functions:
"FERC backstop siting authority can play an important
psychological role in encouraging states to coordinate
and lead in transmission planning, making it a useful
siting tool. The best value of backstop siting is not in
its exercise, but in the possibility of its exercise."
Wow... it wasn't too many years ago when these environmental hypocrites were lined up against FERC backstop siting threats. What a difference a little corporate money makes in environmental priorities.
"America's" Power Plan is just another expensive failure because landowner resistance to new transmission is growing and coalescing into a coordinated, knowledgeable movement that will not be denied. Time for a new plan.