Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Odd Relationahip Between Clean Line & National Grid

I'm not exactly feeling the love between Clean Line Energy and National Grid.  Maybe National Grid just doesn't like Clean Line Energy as much as Michael Skelly would like everyone to think.  No, I don't think they're getting a divorce but I seriously doubt Clean Line and National Grid are sharing the same bed anymore.
After reading the cross examination testimonies from Michael Skelly and Wynters from National Grid, I get the sense of conflicting versions.  Skelly wants to give the impression Clean Line Energy and National Grid are best of buddies. 

Listen to Wynter from National Grid and you get the sense that National Grid doesn’t really want to be associated with Clean Line Energy and National Grid is more a silent investor who uses the subsidiary Grid America to distance themselves from Clean Line. 

So if National Grid is a close and trusted advisor to this speculation company or is National Grid embarrassed by Clean Line and is distancing its association?

Looks to me like Skelly is attempting to make more of the relationship between the two companies.  I suspect Skelly wants Illinois to think there is technical and engineering knowledge behind Clean Line brought to the table by National Grid. 

National Grid doesn’t want to liable for Clean Line naïve foolery and makes every attempt to distance themselves from Clean Line.  If National Grid shows to be more than just an investor they could be liable for Clean Line’s mistakes.  What do they call it…”Plausible deniability”, the act of withholding information from senior officials in order to protect them from repercussions in the event that illegal or unpopular activities became public knowledge?

So which is it?  Are these companies best of friends or is National Grid a distant silent investor…with an option to buy RICL once the easement is gained? 

Perhaps National Grid realizes the management of Clean Line Energy Partners are not the kind of business associated NG wants to be in a partnership together and wants a distance relationship.  Maybe Clean Line management just isn't as smart as they want to appear.  It is fair to ask the question "Just how much advisement is National Grid giving Clean Line Energy?"  I'm guessing it's not much beyond the signature on the check. 

Below are some exerts of Michael Skelly and Rudolph Wynter of National Grid.  The Farm Bureau attorney and COmEd’s Attorney did great job in their questioning.

Farm Bureau Cross Examination of Michael Skelly
Farm Bureau Attorney Q. You make reference in your surrebuttal testimony -- on line 160, you say, "Additionally, our investor, National Grid, is an experienced developer, construction manager, owner and operator of transmission lines, including HVDC facilities, and has extensive contacts in the utility construction industry."

There's other testimony about sort of the advice and management of things that you're going to be getting from National Grid. Why don't you -- could you provide a little more explanation on how that's going to work?

Michael Skelly A. Yeah. So National Grid, as you'll hear from Mr. Wynter tomorrow, is one of the largest investor-owned utilities in the world. They have extensive experience building projects in the northeastern United States, in the UK, and in other locales. And they deal with the issues -- many of the issues that we deal with from tower design to foundations to conductors, insulators.

They also have a lot expertise with HVDC technology, which they've deployed in Asia as well -- I'm sorry -- in New Zealand as well as in the UK and in the northeastern United States.

So they have a lot of experience in this particular realm, and they're building some of those larger HVDC projects in the world right now.

So we regularly interact with them and talk to them about different technical issues that we're working through, and we find it very helpful to have the experience of somebody who has -- who has a lot of experience in this area.

Farm Bureau Attorney Q. And so it's true that they're just providing general advice as the business goes along in a multitude of issues, it sounds like?

Michael Skelly A. Well, it's more than general advice. It's very, very specific advice in terms of how to deal with very specific technical issues and how to deal with the quality issues, et cetera. So it's not general. It's very specific.

Comed's cross examination of National Grid's Rudolph Wynter

ComEd Attorney Q. Mr. Wynter, your testimony goes into great detail about National Grid's business, doesn't it?
Mr. Wynter A. Yes, it does.

ComEd Attorney Q. And National Grid's extensive experience with high voltage transmission lines?
Mr. Wynter A. That is correct.

ComEd Attorney Q. And National Grid's experience in building, owning and operating high voltage transmission lines in the US, UK and Europe?
Mr. Wynter A. In the US and the UK. Not in Europe.

ComEd Attorney Q. National Grid does not provide assistance to Clean Line under any consulting or similar agreement, does it?
Mr. Wynter A. No, it does not.

ComEd Attorney Q. And it is a company called Grid America Holdings, LLC that actually wrote the check to Clean Line in this case, right?
Mr. Wynter A. Grid America Holdings is a subsidiary that we use as an investment vehicle.


ComEd Attorney Q. Your testimony does not discuss a single project constructed, managed or operated by Grid America Holdings, does it?
Mr. Wynter A. No, it does not.

ComEd Attorney Q. In fact, your testimony doesn't discuss that company at all except for the fact that it's the company that wrote the check?
Mr. Wynter A. That is correct.

ComEd Attorney Q. Now, Grid America has contributed $25 million to date to Clean Line, right?
Mr. Wynter A. That is correct.

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