Thursday, October 31, 2013

Han's Detweiler's Backside

This is the closest I've been to Hans.  He is an interesting character.  I watched this farmer just fillet him on why this powerline is not needed and he took it with a grin and had some interaction.  Then another retired lady sneaks up behind Hans with the sticker. 

It was obvious Hans enjoyed the attention.  He looks to be one of those guys who enjoys attention no matter where it's coming from. 

And yes, it was only after seeing Jimmy in his "John Kerry Jacket" that everyone became relaxed enough to have a little fun.  He really set the town for the forum. 

BTW, the lady took the sticker off immediately after taking the picture.  As funny as it was, she couldn't let Hans walk around like that. 

Thanks for the good times. 

Jimmy's Glotfelty's Downfall

Like John Kerry wearing a Barn Jacket, Jimmy Glotfelty looks just as ridiculous.

Again, Clean Line Energy is attempting to present itself as something other than what it really is. 

We continue to ask Clean Line to be honest with us.  Quit the attempts to show an image of the company marketed to Mendota.  We ask nothing more than we asked after the first informational meeting.  Honesty about Clean Line Energy's intent.

Jimmy, start with being honest to yourself.  Don't try to be something you are not.  The John Kerry Barn Jacket is not you.  Next, maybe you should start listening to your team, or rather create an atmosphere where they can speak comfortably and honestly to you.  There has to be members of your team that thought you looked ridiculous. 

Why didn't they tell you "Jimmy, don't wear it.  If you want to look more casual, then wear the white Clean Line shift just like the rest of us"? 

Perhaps it's that arrogant attitude of yours that refuses to allow your team tell you "IT'S A BAD IDEA!"

Jimmy, wearing the plaid shirt and the John Kerry Barn Jacket was great for us.  You looked like a phoney clown.  It was the best icebreaker.  It put all of us in a more relaxed position, because we weren't trying so badly at being something we are not. If you paid an adviser to suggest wearing the jacket, don't listen to them.  Fire them.  If the Kerry Jacket was your idea, lighten up, extract the corn cob, open up, and listen to your team.  Surely they saw how ridiculous this stunt was.

Do you know how foolish it looks for you stand there and tell us how Clena Line is interested in the input of "stakeholders"?  You aren't even open enough to take the input of your team.  There had to be someone who WANTED to say "BAD IDEA, JIMMY!"

Even after a year and a half, HDR informational meetings, and two public forums, we are still waiting for the real intent of Clean Line Energy for the Rock Island Clean Line speculation project. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

When the Going Gets Weird, the Weird Turn Professional, Zilkha Biomass

OK, this is weird.

Michael Zilkha, one of the primary investors in Clean Line has more than one business.  There is also little talked about Zilkha Biomass Energy.  Biomass is a weird form of “renewable” energy.  Best  I can tell, biomass is…well carbon…like coal.  Zilkha Biomass produces a waterproof pellet from wood (carbon).  It’s burned like coal.  

Now, if I have this wrong, I’d suggest Zilkha Biomass and the rest of the industry do a better job explaining why biomass is considered a renewable and not just a coal like substitute.  I also don’t hold it against Michael Zilkha for being a billionaire.  There’s nothing wrong about making money.  We all do it and make a living.  We all want to be a billionaire.  Mr. Zilkha is just one of the few who have been successful…very successful.

Now here is where it gets really weird.  The Great Britain Energy Secretary Chris Huhne, went to jail.  Apparently his car was caught speeding by a video camera.  In an attempt to not lose his driver license, he convinced his wife to claim it was her driving the car.

A tabloid then discovers the energy secretary has a mistress.  The wife gets mad…very mad.  She tells a paper his dirty little secret.  He loses his job.  They both go to jail for a while…for speeding and covering it up.   

The Energy Secretary is now out of jail and needs a job.   Who comes along to help him out?  Michael Zilkha and Zilkha Biomass!  The company gives the former Energy Secretary a $100,000 pound  job to work 2 days a week as the European Head Honcho of Zilkha Biomass Energy.

As a famous radio talk show host likes to say, I can’t make this stuff up.  Sounds like this is making quite a little ending to a British scandal.  The former Energy Secretary goes to jail and gets out with a job making $100,000 for a 16 hour work week.  This would be comparable to Clean Line Energy giving Rod Blagojevich a job once he is released from prison.  It’s understandable why many British find this objectionable.  They see a little know American energy company hires a disgraced bureaucrat and pays him high dollar for minimal work.

It is understandable somebody has to hire the Rod Blagojevich’s of the world.  A guy has to make a living.  What I find most interesting of this stories is the comments made by the British to the newspapers.  The quotes below sound remarkably like what several of us have been saying about Clean Line Energy.  These people have no clue about Clean Line’s desire to jump into the transmission business, but read these quotes.  The British see the same red flags about Zilkha Biomass as we see about Clean Line Energy, RICL, GBE, and P&ECL. 

Here are some of the British comments,

These wretched people are like teflon - nothing sticks to them!

He's not being paid that much because of what he knows, more likely WHO he knows.

Zilkha Biomass has just employed a convicted liar - will anyone trust anything they say?

Do we think his impeccable character references landed him this job then, or maybe the small matter of his contacts swung it for him.....nah, surely not.

So the fact that he's a criminal and a liar to boot doesn't bother these companies.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Eminent Domain, Blood Sports, Billionaires, and FERC

Last Fall the President's nomination to chair the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Ron Binz, referred to the approval process in Washington as a blood sport.  Since he brought up the subject, let’s talk about blood sports. What else do you call eminent domain through private land for private gain without showing a need or be a part of any planning process?  Getting nominated to the FERC chair isn’t the bloodsport. 

FERC is the bloodsport! 

In my 43 years, I’ve seen four right of ways come through our land.  6 if you count the ROW's on the other side of the fence.  7 if you count the pipeline on the other side of the river through Serena.  Thankfully there is a silica sand pit next door to me or that pipeline probably would have wanted to go north through us also.

Now there is the proposed Rock Island “Clean” Line powerline that wants to go through on the other side of the fence at the homestead.  This is the bloodsport.  Whoever said there are more powerlines coming after RICL is correct.  

I’ve seen how FERC’s definition of “need” is becoming devalued.  To FERC a “need” for transmission from Iowa and through Illinois is a public policy statement in Virginia.  To use the terms “loose” and “easy” is a bit of an understatement and those living in the path of FERC’s political agenda.

I don’t celebrate Binz’s failure to obtain the nomination.  Yes, he got Borked.  Washington can be a bit of a  bloodsport , but the real bloodsport is going on in Iowa, Missouri, and Illinois don't with unnecessary transmission projects couple with FERC "incentives" .  If we fail to fight back, FERC will support anyone walking in and take your land to meet a political agenda or an opportunity to hustle up a couple bucks and flip an easement project.   The real victims are the people who literally have to live under FERC and their decisions like Order 1000 . This is the true bloodsport of weak eminent domain regulations.  

Clean Line Energy has brought the front line battle of America's Energy War to us.  FERC doesn't even know America's high voltage transmission capacity but they want more transmission....for the windmills. 

FERC is the bloodsport.

A Farmers Opinion of Wind Energy Transmission Line Across Iowa

Here we go again.   It amazes me how many times we find clean line spewing forth the same drivel and a reporter somewhere laps it up. 

"Clean Line’s Regional Manager, Beth Conley, says the project will increase the capacity of Iowa’s wind energy industry, because it creates a way to deliver electricity to states further east.
"A number of those states have passed renewable portfolio standards, that will require them to have so much of their energy from clean or renewable sources, by--some as early as 2015," Conley said. 
She adds that eastern states don’t have the capacity to create that wind locally—Iowa does. "

This is just one great, big lie, but Clean Line continues to spin for the media, and the media continues to buy it because they won't look outside their region to verify these baseless claims.  Where exactly is the demand for this energy?

Which state is demanding wind energy from Iowa to meet their Renewable Portfolio Standard?

I know it isn’t Illinois.
It isn’t Indiana begging for wind energy from Iowa.
Ohio would rather generate their own wind energy and pay a small premium rather than buy it from Iowa.

What eastern states “needs” this wind energy because there is a surplus of wind in Iowa?

The truth is there is none.  No one is crying for this potential wind energy.  No one is demanding it.  The notion that RICL is needed because there is simply no other way for eastern states to meet their legislated Renewable Portfolio Standard without wind energy from Iowa is a myth.  This is a classic cram-it-down-their-throats surplus exonomics.

Heck, sounds to me,  PJM is concerned about receiving too much wind energy from Iowa and the MISO RTO.   Sounds to me like PJM wants to balance imports rather than receive 1/3 of the imports from one powerline.

None of these states have expressed a desire for Clean Line to provide renewable power.  PJM is concerned about what imports of that magnitude will do to reliability and prices.  Eastern states are quickly developing their own local renewables and looking at offshore wind to meet future goals.  Clean Line's insistence that "states further east" want this power is complete fantasy.  

Here are some potential media sources for a good reporter:  eastern state governor's offices, PJM, other renewable projects like Lake Erie CleanPower Connector is a closer and more economical alternative for eastern states.  Atlantic Wind Connection is another east coast option to provide renewable energy for eastern states new the demand.  Actually, RTO INSIDER has been providing the best reporting on PJM concerns.

There are many many more sources than Beth Conley or Hans Ditweiler, the lobbyists for Rock Island Clean Line.  One just has to look a little and dig a little. 

On another note, this farmer, Jay Hofland, is become the typical supporter for RICL.  More and more we are hearing the “I support RICL because construction of this powerline will put money in my pocket.”  Come on Beth. Can’t you find supporters for your project who aren’t profiting from the construction, paid lobbyist for the wind energy industry, or college students who think the earth will die without this powerline?  Seriously, as the supporters for RICl are coming from the “Money-In-My-Back-Pocket” crowd.

What happens after this purposed powerline is built?  Where is the economic advantage at that point?  Who profits once it is operation?  Southwire, the cable company moves on.  The cement companies move on to the next project.  The China company who built the towers (lattice and monopole) forget about the RICL contract.  Where is the economic gain?

I can tell you where the economic loss will be.   Every one of the farms this aerial sewer crosses will be seeing an economic loss for perpetuity.  Will there be lower energy prices in Illinois because of this project?  I didn’t see Beth Conley talk about it.  Heck, she didn’t even acknowledge the increase in energy production the boom in the natural gas industry has created.

While reporters are asking questions and looking for answers, here’s one for RICL.  What’s your plan should Iowa and Illinois utility commissions deny the company public utility status and eminent domain powers?  If there a planned federal back door miss-use to eminent domain for Illinois and Iowa like what they are doing in Arkansas?

There is just so much that can be reported about RICL beyond the notion that eastern states will be forced to buy power across the RICL transmission line because their Renewable Portfolio Standard says so.

OK here’s one last suggestion for any reporter looking into RICL, Besides BLOCK RICL.  Who owns BNSF railroad?  Berkshire Hathaway.  Who owns MidAmerican Energy? Berkshire Hathaway.  Have you heard about the idea of BNSF rail right of ways carrying wind energy across Iowa?  Hmm?  No?  Try this one last link.  All Aboard the Wind-Powered Railway!