Originality is the art of concealing your source.
There is no attempt to hide the source of this Letter to the Editor.
This letter has been shamelessly plagiarized from Michael Skelly, the President of Clean Line Energy, and his recent Letter to the Editor in the Houston Chronicle about parking lots. THis is worth reading!
Again, I'd like to thank Mr. Skelly for his inspiration and his poignant comments about powerlines...er...parking lots...whatever...the line between parking lots and powerlines can get blurry sometimes.
All attempts at incoherent rambling is meant as a tribute to Jimmy's diatribe at NRO, and Heritage Foundtion.
The verdict is in. Georgetown Law
Journal recently documented that
most Americans prefer energy companies cover their own costs through localized
energy generation over cost allocation and building unnecessary Merchant
Transmission Lines where consumers who do not receive the benefit are force to
pay or sacrifice for energy they don’t need as it goes halfway across the
But how do we get to this more distributed generation, energy efficient, and
demand response energy generation? The answer is not more powerlines.
Recent proposals to increase the number of powerlines are a step in the
wrong direction. While the proposal offers some relief to certain regions, like
New England, the revisions miss the point. The Wall
Street Journal recently reported that Americans consumers should not pay for
powerlines through other parts of the country that are not benefiting them
directly. Many of these countless acres of aerial sewers are required by law.
Our nation through FERC wants to mandates powerline for every class of energy -
from wind energy to coal energy to nuclear to natural gas to hydroelectric.
Implicit in every one of these rules from FERC’s Order #1000 is the presumption
that government knows customers’ needs better than the local energy businesses
that serve them. Why don’t we let local consumers and industry decide how to
meet their own energy demands for themselves?
Government regulation and Renewable Portfolio Standards inevitably leads to
too many powerlines, since one-size-fits-all rules mandate the same
requirements for the Great Plains as for the Appalachian Mountain regions or
New England, regardless of wind availability, resources available in the region,
the cost of transportation, and the actual value added.
If the energy industry believes its customers need and demand more energy,
it will have every incentive to figure this out and provide the energy locally.
On the other hand, a business that is forced by law to provide more powerlines than
it needs will pay a significant cost. An aerial powerline costs many millions to
acquire and billions to build, and local energy generation still costs millions
but without the unnecessary additional powerlines. The space that is occupied by that these
powerlines that are not needed can’t be used for money-making purposes such as
more agriculture production, industrial development, or housing.
It’s not just the business that pays the cost for providing unnecessary powerlines
- we all do. Every mile of excess powerlines means all of us will have to
swallow the incremental visual blight; our blight of environmental injustice
effect will get a bit more fuel and our privately owned land will become a bit
less functional. And if a lot farmland stays vacant because powerline requirements
make development economically infeasible, we all pay the cost in a loss of
The proper role for government is the competent management of government-approved
powerlines - otherwise known as Merchant Transmission Lines. Most, if not all
of the energy conflicts in places such as New England arise because residents,
not unreasonably, lay claim to other priorities in their neighborhoods and expect
“outsiders” to provide their energy in the Midwest. Other regions around the
country have found that the best resolution is a combination of local
generation, demand response, and energy efficiency programs and often the
development of public/private energy generation - not mandating acres and acres
of private owned powerlines.
We don’t need more planning or zoning-like ordinances to build the unneeded
powerlines to denser parts of the nation through eminent domain. A better national answer is for local governments
to encourage more local generation and local energy independence through
measures like The Green Team by ComEd and from there our unleashed
As America’s energy needs change from region to region, let localized regions
figure out the right mix of money spent on energy generation vs. powerline
creation. As America continues to mature, let the entrepreneurs decide if they
want to give a free beer to a toll road customer (instead of a free parking
space). As regions find new uses, let’s not gum up the works with powerlines zigzagging
across the nation and instead allow new markets to figure out what their
customers want. And as maturing nation with ever changing populations, we can think
strategically about how to keep our energy costs low. Let’s help our energy generating businesses
keep their costs down, and let’s not tax consumers by forcing
cross-subsidization of powerlines by ratepayers.
A more urban and populated East Coast is in our future. Most residents
embrace this new world. As this reality comes about, we should take measure of
our strengths. Higher density development will provoke strong reactions along
But you can’t get to high density if you mandate paving every other square
foot of farmland - which is roughly what Houston’s Clean Line Energy requires
of Midwest landowners.
OK, now that I think about it, take the Skelly letter change "parking lots" to "farmland" and the Skelly letter is probably a dang fine LTE.
This can work!
Of course we lose the incoherent tribute to Jimmy's rants, but we can make this work! Maybe even get it printed in a paper.