Wednesday, September 21, 2016

RICL's Supreme Court Last Chance Appeal and the Art of Using Both Hands




The Rock Island Clean Line has filed its appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court.  It’s a weak argument that amounts to wishing in one hand and pooping in the other.  After reading the decision from the Third District of the Appellate Court Illinois and Rock Island Clean Line’s appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court, it is obvious this is RICL’s first time acting as a proposed Public Utility and has no clue about the expectations and obligations of being a public utility. 

RICL is still contending there will be a big savings with the Rock Island Clean Line.  Clean Line keeps claiming there is potential of millions of savings at the Illinois Commerce Commission but has failed to sufficiently explained how where these savings will materialize.  There is not a single windfarm client for RICL on the west or a single interested electricity provider on the east end of the powerline.  Remember Solomon’s advice.

It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. 
  
It must be a challenge to see this speculation project as an actual public utility.  With the right hand, RICL cannot grasp and sign up a single wind energy company in Iowa.  With the left hand, RICL cannot grasp a public utility provider in Illinois.  Without both, there is not a projected savings to Illinois consumers? 

The savings simply doesn’t exist. 

So why doesn’t’ RICL have wind farm clients in Iowa?  Without actual contracts contingent on ICC approval, RICL cannot project savings for Illinois ratepayers.  Without a guarantee Illinois ratepayers will be buying this energy at a significant savings from an actual energy generation company, there is no proof of savings or benefit.  At best, RICL’s argument before the Illinois Supreme Court amounts to wishing in one hand and hoping in the other hand.  RICL cannot grasp one and hang on to the other.

It’s also a weak argument for RICL to claim it has failed to sign up wind energy customers because RICL is not a “Public Utility” in Illinois.  The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has granted RICL authorization to negotiate rates.  Clean Line Energy has gone so far as to boast it has FERC’s “approval”.  So why hasn’t RICL been successful in actually negotiating rates contingent on ICC approval for siting?

Could it be there is no saving for Illinois ratepayers?

Could it be there are no customers for the product RICL desires to wheel?

It’s a terrible attempt at a circular argument to say the Appellate Court cannot grant RICL public utility status because it is not already a public utility.  Only an idiot who finds himself lost in a corner would make this argument.  The regulatory process is designed for FERC to authorize rate negotiation and the states’ public utility commissions authorize siting approval based on need and benefit for the ratepayers.  Again, one hand authorizes rate approval and the other hand authorizes siting approval.  If there is indeed a savings and benefit for Illinois ratepayers, Clean Line needs to put it in writing.  Guarantee a commitment to serve Illinois ratepayers now and forever with actual contracts between energy generators on the west and energy resellers to ratepayers in Illinois.

Wishing in on hand and crapping in the other does not qualify RICL to be an Illinois public utility and it’s truly a weak legal argument to attempt. Hang on to one and letting go of the other can be difficult for some to master.  Putting it in writing can be near impossible for a speculation capital company that is not in the business for the long term.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Hans Bluff of Ca-Ca




Does anybody remember that Hans Detweiller, the missing lobbyist for Clean Line for a proposed high voltage direct current private powerline through Iowa and Illinois commonly known as RICL?  He was that guy nobody liked.  Rumor had it one newspaper told him if he wanted HIS article printed then buy an ad.   Looks like Hans finally surface in an article by Steve Daniels.  He is still full of himself and found someone willing to print the story he wants at Crain’s Chicago Business!    Then again, maybe Han’s is just in denial.  The Rock Island Clean Line  has been DENIED

Here’s some Hans quotes (in red) from the Steve Daniels article. 
  
"It's a terrible precedent—not just for us but any nonincumbent," Hans Detweiler, Rock Island vice president of development, said of the decision in an interview.

It’s not a terrible precedent but a great statement of the law.  It’s the court’s reminder to the Illinois Commerce Commission to follow the Public Utilizes Act to the letter of the law.  The Public Utilities Act was written to protect Illinois residents and ratepayers.

He argued that the logic of the ruling is that only established utilities like ComEd and Ameren Illinois can win approval for transmission lines. That undermines competition, he said.

The Public Utilities Act was established to create restrictions and requirements on companies desiring to be a public utility.  It’s not unreasonable to expect the utility have a commitment to serve the public.   It’s a misconception to think the Public Utilities Act doesn’t permit the Merchant Transmission Line Model.  To enjoy the benefits of eminent domain, Clean Line Energy needs to conform their merchant model to the expectations of the law. 

Sorry Hans, you can’t have it all.  That’s why public utilities are regulated.  


Detweiler said the ruling ignores that the project would lower electricity prices for Illinois consumers as more power would be made available in the market. The new line would be designed to move up to 4,000 megawatts, enough to power 1.4 million homes.

Again, it’s completely irrelevant for the power to be made available to the Chicagoland market.  All of RICL’s capacity can be purchased by public utilities in states east of Illinois.  Having an opportunity to buy the electricity is not the same as a commitment to serve the Illinois ratepayers. 

The decision doesn't pass constitutional muster, he said.
"Under the court's ruling, until such time as Rock Island has an Illinois generator as a customer, any other contracts from any other customers would be worthless, and the clear economic benefits to Illinois electricity customers completely irrelevant," he said. "The analogy for this decision would be a court saying that an oil pipeline traversing Illinois from Missouri to Indiana must have local Illinois oil producers as customers of the line or else there is no public benefit. It is absurd and a clear restraint on interstate commerce."

The court is saying there is not a need for this privately owned transmission line.  So what’s the problem?  There is no threat the lights could go out without the Rock Island Clean Line.  The notion that the Rock Island Clean Line’s failure to meet the requirements of the Public Utilities Act being unconstitutional is a pathetic argument.  Transmission siting has always been the domain of the states and not the federal government.  State laws apply here and there is no federal eminent domain for transmission siting. 

The comparison between RICL and a pipeline model is wrong as Clean Line.  The pipeline business model does not apply to transmission.  The regulation of pipelines is a completely different animal.  Siting is handled by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission because pipelines handle an actual product in oil or natural gas.  Transmission siting has a long history of being the domain of the states. 

Clean Line hasn't ruled out a federal appeal if the Illinois Supreme Court declines to take the case,
Detweiler said.

What?!?!?!  A federal appeal if denied by the Illinois Supreme Court?  For what? 

Does Hans think he can create federal eminent domain by judicial legislation?  Does he think he can find a judge to reject state’s domain as regulators of electricity public utilities?  A federal lawsuit would probably bring the National Association of Regulatory Commissioners against them.  Then there is the Organization of PJM States Inc.  States are protective of their turf with FERC.  Again, transmission siting is the domain of the states and not federal government.   

SteveDaniels is capable of writing good journalism.  After reading him for a few years, it is obvious he does get into a lazy streak and write the story that is spoon fed him.  This is a classic example.  He gave Hans the sounding board no other paper in Northern Illinois would allow.  This article is Han's bluff.  He's full of ca-ca. 

If RICL appeals, will the Illinois Supreme Court accept the appeal and should RICL be allowed to pick and choose which part of the state Public Utility Act applies?  You would think Hans would learn by now “Let us do what we want with your land or we’ll sue” is not much of a threat.  RICL has been denied.