Thursday, April 18, 2013

Tips to Rock Island County when Negotiating with Rock Island "Clean" Line

OK I’m shocked, flabbergasted, but not quite flatulent (long-winded).  

Again, Rock Island “Clean” Line has been less than honest and about as transparent as a compacted septic tank in need of high colonic or maybe a super sucker. 

I’m not much of a Facebooker.  I just don’t navigate it well.  If I went to go to someone’s Facebook page, I’ll Google it first.  Googling “Facebook BlockRICL” gets me to where I want to go much faster than navigating inside Facebook.  There’s probably a psychological term to describe people who despise Facebook, besides “antisocial”.

Speaking of Facebook and “antisocial”, it should be noted I’ve been banned from leaving a comment on RICL’s Facebook page that was deemed improper by CLE.  Yes, I made a comment that violated Clean Line Energy’s social media rules, and right now is probably the best opportunity to apologize to Mr. Skelly.  I was bad and probably deserved to be banned from the RICL Facebook page.  Then again, even Skelly and Jimmy Glotfelty have made some inappropriate comments on line. 

So anyway there are some fascinating information at the BlockRICL facebook page.  I’ve also learned from past errors and haven’t violated anyone’s “social media rules” again.

While reading BockRICL’s Facebook page, it looks like Rock Island County has chosen to table RICL’s offer of $7,000 per mile for the powerline instead of paying property taxes.  It’s interesting how there is such a lack of transparency where Clean Line Energy fails to mention the $7,000/mile is for life of the project in Iowa, but in Illinois CLE only offers the payment for 20 years.

Incidentally, our friends in Iowa calls this $7,000 per mile a "Replacement Tax".  This means the utility company is replacing the lost income from decreased property taxes.  The powerline decreases the land's value in perpetuity and the counties want their money from from the company responsible.. 

Perhaps Whiteside and Henry Counties were a bit foolish to prematurely sign this agreement without discussing it with the counties residents.   Somebody in Whiteside and Henry Counties should learn how to NEGOTIATE.  $7,000/mile for 20 years was the company’s initial offer.

Rule #1: When negotiating with a utility company wannabe is “Never take the company’s initial offer.”

BLOCKRICL Facebook also points out the Clean Line Energy is using a signed agreement as “support” from counties at the Illinois Commerce Commission.    This “support” kind of reminds me of the James Carville quote;

“Drag a 100 dollar bill through a trailer court and you never know what you’ll find.” 

What RICL is offering isn’t a direct bribe to the counties, but it is a little hinky . 

RICL will give the counties a pocket full of money for twenty years in return for the county’s’ support and force this powerline through the townships and township road commissioners.  It’s a three page agreement written by some high dollar Houston or Chicago lawyer where the county has all the obligations and Clean Line Energy’s only responsibility is to write a check once a year.  Again, everything is up for negotiation, including the counties expectations of the company.

Do you really think a county board will distribute the money to the townships, road commissioners, and those directly affected by the powerline like Clean Line recommends?  HA!  That’s about as likely as finding ham inside the fridge of a Clean Line billionaire's estate.  It’s not going to happen.  Any county board beer-goggling over this money and eager to sign an agreement as soon as possible  will try their best to keep the money inside the county’s budget.  If this money was actually going to the townships affected, the county boards would be consulting the townships before signing an agreement with Clean Line Energy.

Should Clean Line succeed, it wouldn’t surprise me if townships sue the counties for damages.

Then there are the property taxes to Grundy County.  BLOCKRICL’s Facebook page makes another interesting comment.

Did you know that after all of "Clean" Line's posturing about local tax benefits that they asked Grundy County for 100% tax abatement on the convertor station?

When Clean Line wants to make a good image to local papers, they talk about the property taxes and of course…the schools….Clean Line’s “transparency” neglects to mention the company starts with 100% tax abatement (no tax payment). 

Note to County Boards: Don’t accept a vulture capital company’s first offer!

Rock Island County made a wise move.  Table this issue until the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) decision.  If the ICC does approve this piece of ham, the county will have a much better position to negotiate.  Actually Rock Island County will be in a position to dictate to Rock Island Clean Line what will be charged for taxes.   Where should the county start? $10,000 per mile?  14,000 per mile?

Rule #2 when negotiating with a make believe utility wannabe is;

Start high and aim to settle for a minimum three times the company’s initial offer.

It’s not wise to let the company eager to hand out money dictate the terms.  A wise person stops, asks questions, and learns just how badly the billionaires want this land.  Then negotiate on your terms, not theirs.  Then again, my terms for Clean Line is somewhere closer to;

 Clean Line doesn’t belong in Illinois.

 Finally, what reward does a county receive for signing on board early with Clean Line Energy?  Seriously, no money was shown that I know of.  It all depends on ICC approval.  Did I miss something?  Is there an early signing bonus? 

This agreement is worthless should the RICL fail at the ICC.  For counties like Henry, it only shows just how easily the county board members will sell out the residents and giddy to receive “free” money.


  1. Well, thanks, Scott. You almost killed me no less than 3 times. Reminder to self: Never try to eat bowl of Honeycomb while reading Scott's blog. :-)

  2. Well, unless you're reading this from Texas. Then I would encourage you to read this blog with any sugar-frosted cereal of your choice because I bet you're not laughing at the same places I am...