Friday, November 30, 2012

Lake Michigan Wind & Wind Energy Maps

This is a wind energy map.
This map claims there is no wind in Northern Illinois or Indiana.  I guess the creators of this map never traveled up Route 39 from Bloomington to Rockford.  I think China even owns a wind farm near Paw Paw in Lee County now.    There are some huge wind farms in central Indiana also.

Here's another wind energy map.
This one acknowledges there is some wind in Illinois, a little less wind in eastern Iowa, and no wind in western Montana.  First map had a tremendous amount of wind on the west side of Montana.  This also acknowledges the wind blows on Lake Michigan and the coast lines.

I think this might be the map RICL likes to use now.
It's pretty with lots more colors.  I can see why RICL likes it.  It shows even more wind in Illinois but there are lots and lots of color right down the center of the nation.  Northwestern Iowa has a lot of pretty purples and red.  Absent from this map is the offshore winds.  It's a slick PR move.  This map doesn't imply there is no wind off the coasts or on the Great Lakes.  It just omits the information and the reader's eye is naturally drawn to that colorful bad down the center of the map.

This map is the latest and greatest from the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL)

Markian Melnyk is the President of Atlantic Wind Connection and said it best.  

These are not wind energy maps.  These are political maps.

There is a map for Atlantic Wind Connection that shows wind off the New England shores.  There is a map for RICL that shows wind in Iowa and omits offshore wind.  There is a map that shows no wind in Illinois.  There is a wind map to show whatever you want to justify for personal benefit, greed, or politics.  Sometimes politics is just a blend of personal benefit and greed.  

So a couple of friends and I have been discussing this and came up with an idea.  Illinois is in debt up to its eyeballs, something like 4 billion short.  The surrounding states own Lake Michigan.  Illinois owns a good chunk of it.  Why not put lay a HVDC backbone in Lake Michigan?

From Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan a HVDC backbone can be laid.  Wind energy companies can pay Illinois for a lease just like they pay farmers and landowners in Illinois.  Just like Atlantic Wind Connection off the New England coast, this can provide energy to each state surround the Great Lake.  Illinois state government can also receive the monthly royalties.  

Lake Michigan is fresh water and not salt water.  The wind turbines would not fight corrosion like off shore ocean wind turbines.  This means such a project would be even more feasible than off the Atlantic coast.  

I know what some out there are thinking.  "There can only be only one on ramp and off ramp for a HVDC powerline."  

This is just another RICL lie that should have been answered if Michael Skelly held actual informational meeting like the ICC intended.   Atlantic Wind Connection's HVDC backbone will have multiple connections.  It's a brilliant idea.  Power can travel up and down a HVDC backbone.  It would be like building a electrical infrastructure around the residential centers with minimal  disrupting to landowners and residential disruption.

Atlantic Wind Connection's proposed HVDC Backbone

 Atlantic Wind Connection's idea is brilliant and would even work betting in Lake Michigan.  It would help Wisconsin's energy demands.  It would help all the Great Lake states.  It would make Lake Michigan a profit center for Illinois government.  Of course there are probably some very powerful and influential people in Chicago like the "Rahmfather" who would not allow this in his back yard but the clean energy would benefit those who are actually consuming it.  Perhaps it is time Chicagoland sacrifice a little rather than continually asking  rural America to make a sacrifice for them.  

One last map.

What sense is there for RICL to build a powerline halfway across the nation when the best winds are right next to the population centers?

The RICL project has nothing to do with what is the best for Illinois, a region, or the nation.  
This is about personal greed for its billionaire funders. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Jayshree, RICL, and Eminent Domain

Recently communications were traded with Hans Detweiler of RICL through the Morris Daily Herald.  He was told the time for civility has ended as our patience has worn thin.  The time for the truth from RICL is long overdue.    It would be much better for Micheal Skelly, the President of RICL, to come to Illinois and address our concerns in person.  We could hold open forums or town hall meeting at the Mendota High School and other gymnasiums, but Mr. Skelly probably doesn't have an interest in coming back to Northern Illinois.  Here is some truth RICL would rather not be known. 
RICL has stated there is no desire in using eminent domain and no intention of using it to acquire land rights from 12,000 acres of landowners.  While RICL would much rather have the land rights be given to them for free, it is absolutely not true.   RICL has wants public utlity status in Illinois and the power eminent domain offers. 

Jayshree Desai is the Executive Vice President of Operations for Clean Line Energy Partners.  It is ironic she is the Vice President of Operations when the company has no operations, no wire, no poles, or no towers.   There are no operations, but yet RICL has a Vice President of Operations.  Before VP of Operations, she worked with Michael Skelly at Horizon Wind Energy and before that, she was the former ENRON director of Mergers and Acquisitions.  

At Clean Line Energy, Jayshree has been lobbying Washington and the Department of Energy for granting eminent domain powers.  Here's the link to the letter.  It’s worth reading. 

 She believes powerlines such as the RICL project are too big and authority should be taken away from Illinois and the ICC.  She has asked the Department of Energy to take the authority and the power to grant eminent domain away from states and give it to the Department of Energy or the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.  

 Clean Line Energy believes projects such RICL should not be burdened with proof that it will benefit the residents of a state, such as Illinois.  

  Desai wrote;

                “Without federal siting authority, Clean Line is proceeding with state-by-state permitting and sitting, often forced to utilize out-of-date, ill-fitting statues.  Existing state statutes and regulations are often not designed for multi-state, or inter-regional projects like those being developed by Clean Line, and may prove insufficient to the task”

She went on to write;

                “…requirements that local/state utility –customers be “served” by the project may inhibit siting of beneficial regional projects.”

The problem arises when those sacrificing for utility transmission projects (farmers and landowners) are the customers and the state residents.  Typically, state residents are not asked to sacrifice their property and land for a project that only benefits the residents of other states.  RICL and its sister projects are attempting to claim a project is worthy of siting and eminent domain in a specific state because another state or another region several states away benefits.  However, there is no federal agency setup to determine if a project is worthy of siting because the project might be “beneficial” to another region either.   

“Beneficial” is also an ambiguous term.  Yes, this project is likely “beneficial” to Clean Line Energy or whoever buys this venture capital project.  Yes, this project could be profitable for Clean Line, but venture capital companies don't create projects without the intention of selling it for a profit.  RICL, if successful, will be sold for a profit.  If this happens RICL's owners, Michael Zilkha and the Ziff Bros. will hailed as geniuses or gutsy entrepreneurs.  Unfortunately, the benefit and profit goes to Michael Zilkha.  Perhaps "personal beneficial" is confused with "personal gain" and just plain old "greed".

 Beneficial and profitable to the company does not necessarily mean beneficial to the states the powerline passes through, or even the states of the final consumers.  There are competing projects to RICL.  For instance, Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC) is a company proposing a HVDC powerline twice the size of RICL’s to serve the New England states, the final consumer of the energy for the proposed RICL powerline.

AWC is proposing a 7,000 MWh HVDC powerline to be laid in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of New England.  Having Washington and their politically climate chose which projects are “beneficial” to New England is not the answer to America’s energy planning.  Washington has a long history of failing to choose correctly.  Solyndra, the bankrupt solar panel company is a perfect example of Washington making project decisions based on political benefits. 

Yet, RICL’s perspective as a venture capital company is Washington politicians know better than state and local communities.  Fortunately, existing state statutes are designed specifically to protect the interest  of the consumers and residents of the state.   If this responsibility was taken by the federal government, the interests of the consumers, residents and landowners will not be considered.  The interest or lobbyists will prevail.
Is it really a good idea for Washington to decide what is best for the farmland of Illinois?  

Do we dare trust Washington bureaucrats and politicians with such power?  

It would be an absolute mistake.  No one would represent us.  No one would look for the best interests of Illinois landowners or residents.    Only a company like RICL who wants the easiest route to the power of eminent domain would think federal siting authority is a good idea.  

Yes, Michael Skelly and Jayshree Desai should have been honest with the Illinois stakeholders from the starts.  They should have conducted the informational meeting in Illinois instead of relying on HDR Engineering to conduct presentations.  If Jayshree was honest when asked if RICL had filed with the ICC during the Mendota informational meeting, maybe no one would have searched further for the truth about RICL and eminent domain. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

RICL and National Grid

If you don't know it by know, National Grid is investing $40 million dollars into Clean Line Energy.  National Grid, a Great Britain Company, is traded on NYSE and is something of a "legitimate" energy company.

This strategic move possibly explains some mysteries.  For the last couple weeks I have been asking myself why RICL has created two more shell companies above the flagship company "Clean Line Energy Partners LLC”.  There is now Clean Line Investor Corp and Clean Line Investments LLC.  Why?  My first guess was they want as many holding companies as possible to pad the bills and puff up the “expenses”.

Now it appears that Clean Line was creating additional companies to make room for NatGrid.

After reading the news that Nat Grid is making an investment in Clean Line, I wondered if Clean Line Investments was created to invest in other companies besides Clean Line Energy Partners, like NatGrid.  Possibly Clean Line Investments could purchase $40 million (or more) in NatGrid stock and NatGrid returns the favor and invests $40 million in Clean Line Energy Partners LLC.  This does sound confusing.  When there are as many shell companies as there are involved with RICL, it's going to get weird. 

This could explain why there are now two shell companies above Clean Line Energy Partners LLC.  It would be a whole lot simpler if Michael Skelly would have come to Illinois and explained his company to use like the ICC intended.  Unfortunately he chose to play these games and we now have to speculate on the companies motivations.

Regardless of shell companies and who is investing in what, this was an interesting strategic move by Clean Line.  There is a real public perception problem for Clean Line with the company being owned by billionaire Michael Zilkha and the Ziff Bros. of New York City.  This creates a problem for Clean Line to obtain the right of ways in Illinois for the RICL project.

Farmers and landowners have objected stating Clean Line desires to take the land rights, in essence, the land itself and giving it to billionaires through eminent domain.  This is a public relations nightmare for the company because it is true.  RICL wants eminent domain power to take the land for a nominal fee.  Yes, RICL's owners are billionaires. 

It's going to be hard for RICL to play the "good for the public" card when a couple of billionaires will profit.  If these venture capital companies are allowed to sell the RICL powerline to the highest bidder, Michael Zilkha will be hailed as a visionary, but his profit will come from the land held by generations of farmers in Illinois.  This is clearly a public relations problem.

Now RICL is able to claim that National Grid is publicly owned.  Illinois residents can buy stocks at the New York Stock Exchange and invest in National Grid.  RICL would like us to think it's almost like investing directly in Clean Line Energy Partners, but NatGrid's investment is only a paltry $40 million. 

Last I heard, the Rock Island Clean Line project is a  $2 Billion project!   Clean Line has four of these sister projects.  Rough math here but 4 projects at $2 billion each and Nat Grid is investing $40 million equates to a 2% investment.

Should the RICL project go through, their investment in Illinois Right of Ways will likely exceed $80 million.  NatGrid's investment won't even cover half the cost of Illinois right of ways.  Regardless if NatGrid's investment is two companies investing in each other or an actual partnership, a $40 million dollar investment is Mickey-Mouse-Cornflakes insignificant.  A 2% investment also does not make RICL a publicly traded company or give RICL 2% legitimacy as a public utility company.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Jimmy Glotfelty Said What?!?!?!?

Jimmy Glotfelty is the #2 guy at Clean Line Energy Partners.  In the coming weeks his relevance to the company will be explained further, but for now this quote of his has to be shared.  It is priceless!

Below is an actual quote of Jimmy Glotfelty.
Jimmy Glotfelty
   07/20/12 22:01

You know...I agree with you....but the fact is, that there is not one single landowner that has been forced to put a wind turbine on his property. It is their land and their choice to make revenue (about 10k per turbine per year)...really no different from a cell tower or radio tower..
BTW, Jenna I see you have 3 pages of articles you have commented must be an energy expert too!
Thanks for you opinions, but let the professionals deal with the facts...

For once, I agree with some one at RICL!  This is our land!  This should be our choice!

So...why is RICL going after eminent domain again? 

"It's their land and their choice to make revenue..."

That's almost good enough to put up on a billboard!

I thought the Clint Eastwood quote from last summer's Republican convention "We own this land" was good and thought about putting it on a 4ft X 8ft sign out in the field on Rt 52 with a couple of "BLOCK RICL" small signs next to it.   

The Jimmy Glotfelty quote "It's their land and their choice to make revenue"  beats all slogans!     

Renewable Portfolio Standards, RICL, & the Price of Energy

A few years ago Springfield passed a law and created a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS).  Several states have an RPS.  Illinois mandates by 2025 the state will have 25% of its energy consumed originate from a form of renewable energy.  Large wind farms and large solar farms qualify for the RPS.  Hydroelectric dams such as Starved Rock do not count towards the RPS.  Small wind generations such as a wind turbine at homes or solar panels on a machine shed roof do not count towards the Illinois' Renewable Portfolio Standard.

Part marketing and part politics, Illinois' RPS has nothing to do with "clean energy".  Renewable Portfolio Standards are about large scale wind and solar energy investments.  Unfortunately, the losers to RPS's are the consumers.  Wind Energy companies like Horizon Wind Energy know the day will come when Illinois residents will be required to pay for their energy regardless the price.

Rock Island Clean line also understands the advantage of RPS's.  Should the RPS for Illinois and other states in the PJM region be allowed to continue, the high priced energy from RICL and northwestern Iowa will exist.

PJM also has a system designed to track renewable energy.  In theory, if a state doesn't have enough renewable energy to meet their RPS, credits can be purchased from states that have excess renewable energy.  Credits can be bought from wind energy companiesUnfortunately, the consumer does not win and profit from this artificially created market. Energy prices will rise beyond the economically competitive price of the marketplace

What about economically priced energy?  What about a competitive market where consumers pay the lowest priced possible?  Renewable energy is a good.  It is a good idea for a state to have a portfolio of several different types of energy.  Sure there is a place for wind energy, but it should compete with coal, natural gas, and nuclear.  Illinois cannot lose the priority of Competitively Priced Energy.  If Renewable Portfolio Standards mean Illinois residents are forced to pay more for electricity, then we will lose our competitiveness in manufacturing, industry, and even the service industries.   Cost of doing business in Illinois will rise.

Energy costs for Illinois' poorest residents will increase.

The American Wind Energy Association will boast that jobs will be created with "clean energy", but the true costs and the net losses will not be shown. 

Renewable Portfolio Standards are failed misguided policies from Springfield.  

RICL still not coming through with answers

Hans Detweiler of Rock Island Clean Line’s rebuttal to a recent letter to the Morris Daily Herald was interesting… in a deceiving way.

Even in the response, Hans and RICL still refuse to say how much this wind energy from Iowa is going to cost. The time for RICL to substantiate their multitude of vague, generalized claims is over.
Produce the corroborating studies. Be clear about when and where you are touting billions of dollars of benefit while ignoring the huge financial negatives to consumers and taxpayers.

Hans Detweiler and Rock Island Clean Line continue to refuse to say how much this wind energy from Iowa will cost.

They claim my assertion it will cost upwards of $70/MWh is wrong. I stand by my earlier statements.
Again, according to the study recommended through the RICL Facebook page, wind energy needs to be priced at a minimum in the $60 to $70/MWh range. The report by Synapse Energy Economics is called “The Potential Rate Effects of Wind Energy and Transmission in the Midwest ISO Region.”
Page 30 says: “…wind power at levelized costs that could be as low as $60 to $70/MWh, without tax incentives.”

Detweiler is familiar with Synapse Energy Econ-omics, as they previously wrote a study sponsored by Detweiler’s employer, The Environmental Law and Policy Center, called “Repowering the Midwest.

Also, a chart from Clean Line Energy Partner’s own  PowerPoint presentation states the estimated delivered cost is $70/MWh.  This price includes a $25 “Transmission cost!” Just the ”transmission cost” alone is close to what we are currently paying for electricity today!

I stand by my claim Rock Island Clean Line is not being honest, truthful and forthcoming with Illinois residents and consumers.  The truth needs to be said by someone.

It also doesn’t surprise me that Hans Detweiler, a former adviser to Governor Rod Blagojevich, has the support of someone at the Citizens Utility Board. With Hans’ previous job at the Environmental Law and Policy Center, he had a very very close relationship with CUB.

Hans has written several articles for CUB newsletters.  Hans, CUB, and Governor Quinn are all politically connected. Therefore it is no surprise they support one another.  There is a long history of “helping” each other.

Heck, I fully expect former Governor Blagojevich supports Hans and RICL.  It’s not a surprise Hans Detweiler made the “BLAGO CLOUT LIST,” also known as the “REZKO CLOUT LIST.”

Hans would also like us to believe advances in wind energy have brought Illinois residents the current low energy prices. What about natural gas?  Our current energy prices are a direct product of economical natural gas and not renewable energy.

Yes, the state and national wind energy associations, for whom Hans Detweiler was a former paid lobbyist, would like the windmills to take all the credit for today’s low energy prices, but the truth is great advances in natural gas drilling has given us today’s economical energy.

Again, according to the Department of Energy’s Accounting Office, in 2010 we paid over $56/MWh in subsidies, grants and money for every megawatt of energy produced from wind turbines before the actual electricity cost.

Like any former adviser to Governor Blagojevich,  Mr. Detweilers words are carefully chosen. To borrow a term once used by Hillary Clinton, I need to “SUSPEND MY ABILITY OF DISBELIEF” to believe what Hans and RICL says is the truth.

The truth is RICL will not say how much this energy will cost without the government subsidies included. 

The truth is Hans has even admitted on video this project is not financially viable without the government subsidies to wind energy!  It’s on YouTube! 

The truth is RICL will not hold informational meetings in Illinois and let Michael Skelly, Jimmy Glotfelty, or Jayashree Dasia speak to us in an open group setting. A meet-and-greet event hosted by HDR Engineering employees representing themselves as RICL does not qualify as “transparent.” 

We are the true stakeholders in this project. This project is coming through our land. Land they want to take through eminent domain. We are the people who will be paying for this overpriced electricity as it is forced on us by RICL and our concerns are not being directly answered.  

Finally, RICL has continually failed to speak with honesty and truthfulness to Illinois residents. This PR game from a former lobbyist and retired state senator with half-truths is not playing well in Illinois. The residents of this state will know the truth about RICL either from the management of Clean Line Energy Partners or from people in Illinois who are investigating this company.
There is much more about RICL that needs to be discussed. I would suggest Michael Skelly start giving Illinois residents the answers we seek soon, as our patience and civility is becoming worn thin.  If there are actually any “experts” or brains behind this project, now is the time to bring them forward. The guys currently communicating RICL’s position are failing.

Detweiler and retired state Senator Seiben are making a mess of this project because they won’t give us the answers we need. Coming into our counties and wanting to take our land for a private project and having the company’s spokesman belittle and ignore our concerns is not civility.

Our voice will be heard.
We are not about to let the next ENRON gain a foothold in our state.

RICL's response

In fairness to RICL and Hans Detweiler, below is the company's response as it appeared in the Morris Daily Herald.  Actually, the story flows better if this is included.   Unfortunately, RICL has never held a public meeting to answer our questions.  Consequently, communication is played out in the newspapers across Northern Illinois.  

Dialog through the newspapers is a terrible way to communicate.  I heard a rumor that one of the newspapers told Hans Detweiler to buy an add if he has something to say!

This is his response.   

Two weeks ago, the Rock Island Clean Line filed for approval from the Illinois Commerce Commission.
The transmission project, which will deliver enough wind energy for 1.4 million homes to Illinois consumers, is estimated to reduce wholesale energy costs across Illinois by $320 million in the first year of operations alone. The project will also create construction and manufacturing jobs and dramatically reduce dangerous pollutants.
Regarding a recent letter by Scott Thorsen challenging these consumer benefits, a recent report by the Illinois Power Agency essentially agreed with Rock Island about the impact of wind on wholesale prices:  that during 2011, renewable resources, principally wind power, reduced wholesale power prices in Illinois by $1.30 per megawatt-hour, from $36.40 to $35.10 per MWh.
Contrary to Mr. Thorsen’s claim, it’s simply incorrect that prices have to go up to $70 per MWh for consumers to realize benefits from the Rock Island Clean Line.  As David Kolata of the Citizens Utility Board recently stated about the Rock Island project: “Illinois has restructured its energy markets, and new power supplies, especially new renewable energy supplies, are one critical leg of the stool for keeping electricity prices affordable. This project could be good news for consumers.”
Mr. Thorsen is correct that the Rock Island Clean Line isn’t free. Someone will pay for the transmission capacity. But no one is required to buy capacity on the line. Illinois electricity consumers can switch electric providers if they don’t like how much their provider charges. Likewise, we want our customers to have the choice to buy clean, low-cost wind energy that doesn’t pollute or fluctuate with fuel prices.
Finally, Mr. Thorson referred to me or my company as liars or tellers of half-truths at least three times in a relatively short letter. I believe that we as a society should aim for a higher level of civility, and I would like to express my appreciation that the overwhelming majority of citizens in Grundy County with whom I have discussed this project evidently agree.

RICL and There Dirty Secrets

RICL claims every project by Clean Line Energy project will employee 5,000 people.  I'm no economist, but doing the math that adds up to 20,000 construction jobs!   That is a very difficult number to find believable.  Every economic report I have seen about Iowa wind energy sent to Illinois shows no savings for the MISO region.  Any jobs created by this powerline will be transient jobs as RICl has hire a construction company out of Kansas.  These construction jobs will have no community impact on beyond hotels and small cafe's.

RICL claims 500 operations jobs will be created for a 500 mile powerline.  That's 1 job per mile?  Is this more math from economist without calculators? One job per mile from a simple powerline is terrible productivity.  I have difficult believing this claim of job creation.

RICL claims $320 million in savings for the consumers?   Really?  How much money are taxpayers going to pay for over 4,300 MWh of new wind energy with the Production Tax Credit included?  According to the Dept. of Energy Accounting Office, tax payers are already borrowing from China and paying 1.5 billion through 2016 to the owners of windmill companies.  The 2010 average cost for wind energy was over $56/MWh above the actual cost of the electricity.  There is no savings when we will be paying a bloated price for this wind energy.  The truth is this wind energy has higher costs, and even Economist David Loomis admits there aren't many full time permanent jobs created by wind farms like those potentially built in Iowa for this project.

Even with RICL's fuzzy math, the economists cannot show consumers a savings beyond the margin of error for the MISO region.

This is not an incredible opportunity.  There is no permanent job growth.  The construction jobs will largely come from out of state...if not outside the country.   The owners of management of Clean Line Energy Partners once owned Horizon Wind Energy.  It was sold to Goldman Sachs and later sold the EDP Renewables.  If the RICL project goes through, who do you think will own the windmills in Iowa?  EDP Renewable.  Where do you think our tax money from the Production Tax Credit will go?  Spain.

Clean Line Energy Partners does not own one pole or mile of wire.  Yet I have never seen so many shell companies and holding companies since ENRON.  Clean Line Energy Partners LLC,  Rock Island Wind, Rock Island Clean Line, Clean Line Investments, Clean Line Investors LLC.... It goes on an on. There are also at least six other shell companies for the other three powerline projects.  I seriously don't know if ENRON had this many shell companies and Clean Line still does not add one cent of value to the economy!  When comparing shell company per person employed or shell company per economic output, Clean Line Energy Partners has far and away more shell companies than ENRON.

This project will not provide economic recovery to America.  RICL will not provide lower energy costs.  This project will only serve to take land away from several hard working farmers and families in Illinois and Iowa and give the land and the profits to just a handful, starting with Michael Zihlka and the Ziff Brothers from New York City.  President Roosevelt had a term for people like this and companies like Clean Line Energy.  He called them "private socialists".   I know of no better term when 12,000 acres of land is taken from so many and given to so few!

The "savings" this project will bring come from a much higher energy cost.  Hans Detweiler and Jimmy Glotfelty of RICL have both stated this energy will cost about $45/MWh.  Add to that the Production Tax Credit, this energy will cost consumers at a minimum $67/MWh!

This is just some of RICL's dirty secrets. RICL has failed to answer one simple question to Illinois consumers.

How much will this electricity cost us?

They project a savings, but what is the true cost?

It's time RICL start being honest with Illinois stakeholders in this project.