Saturday, November 9, 2013

GBE Gains KCC Approval with Limited Cross Examination from Intervenors



Grain Belt Express has just received KCC conditional approval for their powerline.  Keryn at STOPPATHWV BLOG did a great job explaining the Kansas utility commission’s conditional approval in her blog A Circus of Unprofessionalism:  Kansas Corporation Commission Approves Grain Belt Express.

A couple things surprises me about the KCC conditional approval. The following was cut & paste from the approval; 

The Commission limited several intervenors' participation in the proceedings to making opening statements and filing post-hearing briefs.

So, intervenors were not allowed to cross examine Clean Line Energy’s testimony.  WOW.  How do you compete with that without campaign contributions?  I'm sorry.  Coming from a state with with a well organized and independent utility commission, it's incredible to imagine the a crazy circus of unprofessionalism of  the KCC. 

Intervenors were not allowed to cross examine and questions Clean Line’s claims to job creation, economic development, or benefit.

Am I the only one who finds this unusual, like a rigged kangaroo trial?

With no one to question Clean Line’s claims, the KCC seems to accept everything told to them as gospel

The KCC assumes all energy sent over GBE will be new wind generation.  What about energy trading?  What are the possibilities existing energy generators will sell to eastern markets and abandon the Kansas market?  What is the likelihood Kansas ratepayers will see higher rates as generators go east?

The KCC makes a point to believe eastern markets will benefit with increased energy supplied but ignores the probability the supply of energy in Kansas will decrease.  There is no guarantee this powerline will only be supplied by new generation.  While GBE has not filed for FERC’s condition approval to negotiate rates, we know Clean Line cannot discriminate between coal, nuclear, or wind.  Energy is energy.  There is no binding agreement even 30% of the energy on this powerline will be wind, yet the KCC chooses to believe this powerline is for the enhancement of the Kansas wind industry.

The KCC finds benefit in Kansas as economic development and benefit outside Kansas as greater supply of energy.  So, the KCC sees its role as protector of the interests of those living in MISO and PJM markets?  I wonder what the KCC would have said if I as a ratepayer in MISO would have asked to intervene from Illinois.  I expect the KCC would have said you Illinois residents have no interest in what goes on in Kansas, but really it wouldn’t make a difference, because the KCC limited the input of intervenors.

In both cases, the KCC’s economic analysis inside the state and outside the state looked at the gross and not the net economic benefit.  There are surely those who do not benefit from this project.  Kansas ratepayers will likely see a reduced supply and higher energy prices.  Also, who is it for the Kansas Corporation Commission to determine what the benefit is for those living outside their state.  The benefit perceived by the KCC is basic “Shove-it-Down-There-Throats” Economics where the benefit for others is determined from the surplus in Kansas.

Another example of Shove-it-Down-There Throats Economics was America’s old grain export programs like “Food for Peace”.  Like the present surplus in Kansas wheat, the problem then was an excess supply of Kansas wheat.  The solution was offer guaranteed loans and cheap financing to African nations.    When the primary goal was to find a place to dump Kansas wheat surpluses and the benefactor was determined to be African nations whether they wanted it or not.  

Like the KCC’s policy of promoting wind energy, the policy of export enhancements in this example, and dumping cheap wheat on African nations discouraged and destroyed many African farming industries.  African nations became more dependent on America and weak as a nation.   The KCC’s analysis of GBE’s benefit to those outside the scope of the state also does not consider alternatives for eastern states. 

When no one is allowed to cross examine, the KCC can find “benefit” wherever it wants.

What project goes before the KCC and gets denied when the KCC limits intervenors’ participation?  Seriously, any wannabe energy company with a PowerPoint can make a good presentation.  If intervenors are not allowed to cross examine any idea can look good.  Or perhaps the KCC is going to do whatever it wants regardless of logic. 

1 comment:

  1. The KCC staff did recommend that many public comments from outside Kansas be tossed, because they were from outside Kansas. Kansas can be concerned about you, but you can't be concerned about it's concern for your welfare. Kansas under Gov. Sam Brownback more closely resembles a third world autocracy where courts and regulations are merely for show. Sam tried to wash his hands of any GBE stink, but the voters won't forget this.

    So, hey, maybe GBE has done Kansas a big, big favor! It has spurred Kansans on to return true democracy to their state in 2014. And, meanwhile, the GBE opposition charges on into the other three states, where the project may be subject to appropriate scrutiny under the watchful eye of knowledgeable regulators. Apparently energy isn't the only commodity being drained from Kansas by GBE. The project seems to have completely sapped any sign of intelligent life at the KCC.

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