The Wyoming Infrastructure Authority and Michael Skelly
A couple months ago Michael Skelly was a guest speaker at a conference in Wyoming. It’s particularly interesting because Clean Line Energy doesn’t have a project remotely close to Wyoming. At the link above you can download Skelly’s presentation. Here’s a link to the Skelly presentation video.
It’s interesting the last 6 minutes appear to be edited and blacked out or erased. It appears Skelly was about to talk about how his company handles landowners. I think we’d all like to know how this presentation ended.
In any case, it’s a long video, but here’s a quote from the ending before the video is cut off.
“As soon as landowners hear of a project like this, they are going to call the elected official they know and that is the county commissioner. But we want to get in and talk to a county commissioner early on and tell them where we're coming from.
And this is sort of our …coming back to where we’re coming back to the view that these answers are not coming from Washington, we're big into the ground up developments so we start at the local level as possibly as you can and then sort of work your way up to the state level and then ultimately Washington to the extent that their involved. ”
So what Skelly is saying is he starts at the local level, smoozes the local government officials, and work his way up the chain. By the time the landowners learn of his company's intent to railroad his aerial sewer through their farm, he will have every base covered leaving the landowner no option.
This is an old strategy. Former Minnesota US Senator Paul Wellstone covered this strategy well in his book Poweline, The First Battle in America’s Energy War. The CU Powerline used the same strategy as far back as the 1970’s. Skelly and Clean Line Energy used the same strategy in Kansas with the Grain Belt Express where Clean Line Energy propose a southern route through the state, obtained public utility status, change the route, then inform the landowners everything has been done decided, and Clean Line is taking their property for a powerline.
It all starts with the County Board Members. Get them on board first. Pay the county $7,000 per mile for 20 years. Make them feel good. What government body doesn't need more money? Tell them its "for the schools". Give the landowner a road block at the first government official he turns to, his neighbor, the county board member.
It worked for for Grundy and Whiteside County. Rock Island County was a bit more difficult, but Clean Line managed to slide the issue through during spring planting season. If I recall correctly. The smart ones are the counties that haven't signed on early for the potential payout. That $7,000 is just Clean Line's starting point in negotiations. If RICL does obtain a Certificate of Public Convenience and Public Utility Status from the state, then the county has some leverage. That $7,000 per mile grows quickly. The county can demand $14,000 per mile for perpetuity and work it's way down in negotiations.
So the Houston Texas company goes to lobby the county boards. Grundy, LaSalle, Bureau, Whiteside, Rock Island, Henry...If the county board is in their back pocket, then the State Representatives will fall in line, then the Public Utility Commission will approve...Great strategy. Call these people "stakeholders" as if they have an investment in this project and they will overrule the landowners and neighbors who question the need for the project.
I sure wish the last 6 minutes of the video were there. No, it's not the missing Nixon tapes, but I still have to ask "Why was the ending blacked out when Mike was just beginning to discuss landowners?" I gotta say its getting harder to defend Mike and still say Jimmy and Hans are the only jerks in this company. He's not giving me a lot to work with here.