Congratulations, Midwesterners, you now have your very own special EUCI conference! Dealing with you has become a specialized practice area for the transmission industry. What is it about you that makes you special? Is it your attachment to your land? Your love of uncluttered, wide-open spaces? Your appreciation for peaceful, non-industrial landscapes? Your honesty? Your sense of justice and fair play? Your mistrust of outsiders who want to take something from you? The transmission industry sure would love to figure out what makes you tick!
That's why they will be gathering to discuss you at Transmission Expansion in the Midwest this coming October. Attendees believe they will:
...explore the specifics of how to develop and maintain positive landowner relationships while negotiating in good faith for pipeline, electric transmission, wind and solar, rail and public sector projects. This would include whether pursuing site leasing, site purchase, easements, right of ways and/or workspace, and whether coming from the perspective of project management, design engineering, environmental, appraising, permitting, survey, right of way, inspections, construction, operations, and others, this presentation is a must in helping ensure a successful project, on time and on budget with happy landowners.
But EUCI bravely soldiers on, putting together these industry echo chambers where industry speakers hide their failure in order to pretend they're successful. Whatever... they're only fooling themselves. The reality is that it's getting harder and harder to permit, site, and build transmission in the face of record-breaking opposition. Opposition is bigger. Opposition is faster. Opposition is more sophisticated and successful than ever before. So, what do EUCI's speakers know about the opposition that delays, alters and flat-out cancels even the most carefully planned transmission projects? Not much. Not only are the industry critters lacking perspective, they absolutely have no idea what motivates opposition. Why? Because they've never been an opponent! And they don't want to learn from any opposition heathens. Wouldn't these classes be better taught by the opposition? Instead, you get this:
Recognize and understand landowner’s perspectives and the importance of dealing with unique differences in various landowners, their personalities and their needs/concerns.
And then there's this:
Beyond the historical considerations of zoning, environmental, special use, conservation and damages determination, communities are becoming more and more vocal in their requirements in infrastructure development. As social media and cyber-activism have become the norm (even for landowners not impacted by a project), companies need to become social-savvy in route planning, outreach and negotiations. More often than not, whether in the electric industry or in other related industries, projects are successful or fail spectacularly due to communication issues, lack of messaging and poor understanding of the locale impacted.
KURT ALERT!!!! Of course a Midwestern Transmission Expansion conference wouldn't be complete without some fantasy from Clean Line Energy Partners! Except Clean Line's presentations are always the same. No creativity there!
Case Study: Delivering Wind Energy to Market
The United States possesses some of the best renewable energy resources in the world. However, continued growth of the renewable energy industry in the U.S. faces a serious challenge: the lack of transmission. Clean Line Energy is developing a series of long-haul direct current transmission lines to deliver low-cost renewable energy to communities that have a strong demand for clean power.
This presentation will focus on the Grain Belt Express Clean Line, which will deliver wind energy from Kansas into Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. The project has received its regulatory approvals in Kansas, Illinois and Indiana and is currently working through the final state approval process in Missouri. The presentation will provide an update on the regulatory, routing, and other milestones accomplished with a focus on the benefits this project will bring to Missouri.
Amy Kurt, Director of Development, Clean Line Energy Partners
And that's just the problem. Eminent domain. As long as eminent domain is on the table, there will be no "happy" landowners. It's not about "communication" or psychological manipulation of landowners, it's not about siting, it's not about getting to know the community values, it's not about made-up "benefits," it's not about purchased "support" for transmission projects. It's about the eminent domain.
No matter how much smoke and mirrors this industry generates in its echo chamber, it will continue to face increasingly effective opposition and transmission projects will fail.