ITC Holdings Corp. builds, owns and operates transmission. Unlike other utilities that also own generation or distribution (your "local" electric company), transmission is all ITC does.
More distributed generation means less transmission. ITC must have found that pretty terrifying, because the company recently "...conducted research, including an online survey of national audits and in-depth interviews with business leaders on grid and transmission development, to measure whether businesses and the general public understand the complex and significant economic benefits that stem from a fully functioning electric transmission grid."
Oh, poppycock, ITC! It's all in how you ask the questions, right? A "hired gun," or advocacy survey is carefully constructed to lead the participants to the desired responses through carefully worded questions, false choices, or limiting possible answers.
Let's take a look at ITC's "survey:"
- The survey included an upfront, conclusive statement before any questions were asked of the 800 sample "Americans":
After reading the following short description about the electricity transmission grid, nearly all Americans (99%) think that the grid is important to the United States, the national economy and their local economy.
"As you may know, an important part of our nation’s infrastructure is the electricity transmission grid. The grid is made up of transmission towers and power lines that deliver electricity from power generating sources to the distribution network and the millions of businesses and consumers across the country. It’s often useful to view the transmission grid as the “backbone” to the country’s electricity infrastructure. The pieces that make up the transmission grid are very old and outdated. More than 70% of the nation’s transmission lines are at least 25 years old."
- Questions consisted of asking participants if they agreed or disagreed with the following statements:
Investing in the electricity transmission grid will ensure reliable access to power, especially during severe storms, for consumers and businesses.
Investing in the electricity transmission grid will help America’s economy by promoting job creation and economic growth.
Investing in the electricity transmission grid will help regional local, regional and national businesses grow and succeed.
Investing in the electricity transmission grid will increase competition by facilitating
access to more efficient forms of energy and thereby reducing costs.
Investing in the electricity transmission grid is important to national security.
Everyone benefits from investments in the electricity transmission grid.
Investing in the electricity transmission grid will accelerate access to all types of power.
- Participants were asked "Why do you think the United States should invest in the electricity transmission grid? Select all that apply." Why is it assumed that all participants think the U.S. should invest in the grid? And why isn't one of those choices "To make my electric rates go up while providing corporate welfare for transmission companies?" Instead choices were limited (and surprisingly sappy):
To lower electricity prices, helping to save consumers like me money
To reduce the number of power outages, especially during severe storms, making electricity more reliable
To make a difference for future generations, including my children and grandchildren
To give businesses more reliable power and make our economy stronger
To minimize the impact of cyber security risks
• The majority of Americans (61%) prefer investing in the electricity transmission grid rather than building power-generating facilities to increase energy efficiency.
- For some reason, a majority of ITC's "Americans" think that the government invests in the grid from some magic pool of money that doesn't cost the "Americans" anything:
Despite agreement around the benefits of investing in the grid, Americans are divided over who is primarily responsible for actually investing in it.
• More than half (56%) say either federal (Congress) or local/state government is responsible for investing in the grid, while a quarter say electric utility companies are. Small percentages think that President Obama, consumers, or private investors are responsible.
Since ITC's "survey" was scientifically carried out online, let's undertake our own online survey to see if we can arrive at the same results as ITC's pollster.