Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Frontline in America's Energy War

Powerline; The Frst Battle in America's Energy War
Maybe some people are interested in some good reading material for the winter.  This is an excellent book.  Powerline The First Battle in America's Energy War.  It was written by the deceased US Senator Paul Wellstone.  You might remember him.  He was the sitting US Senator who died in a small airplane crash during George W. Bush's Presidency.  His funeral service was more of a Democrat Party rally.  It was a rather awkward experience for the Republican politicians present.

The former Senator plays a small role in the book but explains how Paul Wellstone became such an activist.  I have a new appreciation and understanding of him now.  The real stars and main players in this book is a group of farmers and their opposition to a politically connects group who desired to build a HVDC powerline through Minnesota farmland in the late 1970's  It is remarkable how well organized and uncompromising a bunch of farmers can get to fight a HVDC powerline.

The similarities are interesting with the CU HVDC powerline and Rock Island Clean Line's HVDC powerline.  The creators of both powerlines are politically connected in Washington.  Both the book and RICL seek to take advantage of a national energy policy for their personal benefit.  CU Powerline creators preached the virtues of coal energy and RICL proclaims wind energy is the answer to America's energy needs.  Both CU and RICL have a friend with the state governor.  The Minnesota governor in the late 70's called the powerline his single greatest headache during his term in office.  Governor Quinn is about to discover the same opposition from Illinois residents.  The farmers also refuse to relent in Minnesota in the 1970's and just as today's farmers in Illinois.

Virgil Fuchs
When greed from a handful of billionaires mixes with politicians, the frontline of this energy battle is across America's farmland.  Costs of energy become top secret and "proprietary" information.  The lowest cost of energy and the best costs for consumers become irrelevant as arguments are made as "clean" energy, carbon, greanhouse gases....and the lowest cost become irrelevant.

The ones who suffer the most as arguments are made based on the alleged merits of "clean" energy are the poorest of the consumers; those can afford the least to waste money for higher priced energy.  Deregulation is supposed to bring more competition and lower energy prices, but we have also learned from Enron, deregulation also brings out the worst in those who see opportunity to manipulate the market for their benefit. 

Yes, like the CU Powerline, RICL has more to do with personal greed and less to do with a centered national policy for economically priced energy.

As a small tribute to these first farmers who first opposed that HVDC powerline, I refrain from the words"transmission line" or "power line".  Perhaps it is parly the victors name the war.  BLOCK RICL has named the company RICL, and so it shall be.  It's "RICL" and not "Rock Island yada.yada..yada" and when this fight is won, the comapny is dead and gone, the name will remain "RICL".

This book is worth reading on a quiet winter night. 

I opposed Rock Island Clean Line (ICC Docket # 12-0560)


  1. I love this book! What's so unsettling is that power company tactics haven't changed since the 1970s. It's the same stuff, all over again. Do transmission owners think WE haven't evolved since 1970? Ha ha ha...

  2. 5 years later and this blog is so on target. RICL it was and how it shall be remembered.