Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Governor Brownback's Flip Flop on Supporting Wind Energy but Opposing its High Cost

The lack of "wisdom" from some Governors sometimes amazes me.  At the very least, it is comforting to know Illinois isn't the only state with a governor who lacks the foresight to create a state's energy policy.  As indicated by The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, apparently Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has perhaps "seen the light" as the winds of public oppinion has begun to blow in a different direction. 

Maybe Kansas Governor Sam Brownback took a reality pill and is now opposed to new federal regulations by the EPA to promote wind energy.  It would appear Sam is now all about economically priced energy while Missouri looks to Kansas for wind energy to be in compliance with the new EPA rules designed to enhance demand for wind energy. 

Here's what the St. Louis article says;

"Working with Kansas could run into administrative as well as political roadblocks. It would depend on the development of a method to credit wind generation in a state’s emissions formula without double-counting it toward compliance in Missouri and Kansas. States with abundant renewable resources could be reluctant to let other states use them toward compliance.

Political considerations could also block cooperation. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, opposed the regulations from the outset, saying the day they were released they would “raise the cost of living for every Kansan.”

Is this an election year?  What happened Sammy?  Shoving overpriced Kansas wind down the throats of residents in eastern states was OK but when the EPA mandates Kansas comply, Brownback is opposed to high priced energy.  Hypocrite. 

Looks like the Kansas governor is all about supporting the wind industry when people in different states have to pay for it but opposes high priced energy for Kansas.  Maybe Governor Brownback supports the wind industry but just opposes paying for it.  Perhaps Governor Sam supports wind energy when it is subsidized with a federal Production Tax Credit , but opposes high priced energy bills when wind energy is mandated by the federal government without the tax subsidy.  Perhaps it is just a matter of convenience for Brownback to blame Obama.

Now that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) mandates people not benefiting from a transmission project pay their "fair share" to promote wind energy, it will be interesting if Sam Brownback is reluctant  to share Kansas wind energy with it's neighbor to the east.  When Kansas residents are paying for transmission projects to take energy out of Kansas, my guess is Brownback will balk.  As the campaign has begun, he is already looking to blame President Obama for the high price of alternative forms of energy (wind).

Wasn't Sam Brownback the one pushing wind energy and the Grain Belt Express Clean Line llc powerline to send wind energy eastward?  Didn't Sammy claiming transmission eastward will promote Kansas wind energy, create jobs.....So what happened Sam?  Why the change of heart? Why opposed to new regulations that will enhance demand for Kansas wind and the Grain Belt Express?  Did the Clean Line Kool-Aid sour in your stomach?  Yep, Here's a quote from Governor Sammy. 

“The Grain Belt Express Clean Line will provide a vital boost in Kansas’ efforts to lead the nation in renewable energy production,” said Kansas Governor Sam Brownback. “This project will bring well-paying jobs, generate revenue for landowners and local communities, and open Kansas’ abundant wind resource to new markets.  Transmission projects like this are key in our mission to establish Kansas as not only the Wheat State but also the Wind State."
So why the flip-flop Sammy?  Why were you for wind energy before you were against it?  Do you still support the wind industry?  Is this kind of like "I support the troops but oppose the war" kind of BS?

From the sounds of the St. Louis article, Saammy recognizes if Missouri buys wind energy from Kansas wind farms, this will decrease the supply of wind energy for Kansas Residents.  If demand for Kansas wind energy artificially increases because Missouri is competing with Kansas for wind Kansas residents are going to have to pay more for electricity.  What happened to Governor Sam Brownback's claim that wind energy offers a "clean path for growth"?

Sucks doesn't it Sammy? 

Kansas takes responsibility for it's own energy policy and the next door neighbor start says we want a piece of your deregulated business.  Plus, if more transmission is needed to wheel this energy to Missouri, Sammy probably recognizes Kansas residents will be forced to pay their "fair share".   Yeah, Sam supports transmission to shove new wind energy down the throats of eastern states when Kansas residents aren't paying for it, but know under FERC's Order 1000, Kansas residents could be paying for transmission to send wind energy to Missouri and without the federal subsidy the price of wind can be hidden.

Then again, maybe Brownback's backing from coal and the proposed new Sunflower coal plant in Holcomb, Kansas is the motivation.  Yes, Brownback supports a new coal plant that will send energy to states in the south and west.    Then again maybe Governor Brownback, is more like Illinois Democrat Governor Quinn and willing to tell the public what they want to hear but advocate those who pay his campaign.  It's called Pay-to-Play in Illinois.

It's pointless for Gov Brownback to blame the rising cost of energy on Obama and the EPA.  He's the one supporting the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard and supporting paying too much for wind energy.  It's not surprising other states are repealing these Renewable Portfolio Standards as they realize wind energy is expensive.


The "wisdom" of Governors sometimes amazes me.  At the very least, it is comforting to know Illinois isn't the only state with a governor who lacks the foresight to create a state's energy policy.  Kansas Governor Sam Brownback perhaps has "seen the light" as the wind has begun to blow in a different dirrection.  The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has and interesting article a week ago. 

http://www.stltoday.com/business/local/mo-utilities-look-to-kansas-wind-to-comply-with-carbon/article_29faa710-8ed1-531b-9a01-c6e375cc13a8.html

Not sure what happened, maybe a dose of reality, but Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is now opposed to new federal regulations by the EPA to promote wind energy.  It would appear Sam is all about economically priced energy while Missouri looks to Kansas for wind energy to be in compliance with the new EPA rules designed to enhance demand for wind energy. 

Here's what the St. Louis article says;

"Working with Kansas could run into administrative as well as political roadblocks. It would depend on the development of a method to credit wind generation in a state’s emissions formula without double-counting it toward compliance in Missouri and Kansas. States with abundant renewable resources could be reluctant to let other states use them toward compliance.

Political considerations could also block cooperation. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, opposed the regulations from the outset, saying the day they were released they would “raise the cost of living for every Kansan.”

Is this an election year?  What happened Sammy?  Shoving overpriced Kansas wind down the throats of residents in eastern states is OK but when the EPA mandates Kansas comply, Brownback is opposed to high priced energy.  Hypocrite. 

Looks like Kansas governor is all about supporting the wind industry when others in different states have to pay for it but opposes high priced energy for Kansas.  It would appear Sam supports wind energy when it is subsidized with a federal Production Tax Credit (http://cjonline.com/news/2012-06-04/brownback-calls-renewal-wind-tax-credit?page=1)  , but opposes high priced energy bills when wind energy is mandated by the federal government without the tax subsidy. 

Now that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) mandates people not benefiting from a transmission project pay their "fair share" to promote wind energy, it will be interesting if Sam Brownback is reluctant  to share Kansas wind energy with it's neighbor to the east.  When Kansas residents are paying for transmission projects to take energy out of Kansas, my guess is Brownback will balk.  As the campaign has begun, he is already looking to blame President Obama for the high price of alternative forms of energy (wind).

Wasn't Sam Brownback the one pushing wind energy and the Grain Belt Express Clean Line llc powerline to send wind energy eastward?  Didn't Sammy claiming it will promote Kansas wind energy, create jobs.....So what happened Sam?  Why the change of heart? Why opposed to new regulations that will enhance demand for Kansas wind and the Grain Belt Express?  Did the Clean Line Kool-Aid sour in your stomach? 

Yep, Here's a quote from Governor Sammy. 

“The Grain Belt Express Clean Line will provide a vital boost in Kansas’ efforts to lead the nation in renewable energy production,” said Kansas Governor Sam Brownback. “This project will bring well-paying jobs, generate revenue for landowners and local communities, and open Kansas’ abundant wind resource to new markets.  Transmission projects like this are key in our mission to establish Kansas as not only the Wheat State but also the Wind State."
So why the flip-flop Sammy?  Why were you for wind energy before you were against it?  Because it will raise the cost of energy in Kansas.

From the sounds of the St. Louis article, Saammy recognizes if Missouri buys wind energy from Kansas wind farms, this will decrease the supply of wind energy for Kansas Residents.  If demand for Kansas wind energy artificially increases because Missouri is competing with Kansas for wind Kansas residents are going to have to pay more for electricity.  What happened to Sammy's claim that wind energy offers a "clean path for growth"? http://www.kansas.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/article1073788.html

Sucks doesn't it Sammy? 

Kansas takes responsibility for it's own energy policy and the next door neighbor start says we want a piece of your deregulated business.  Plus, if more transmission is needed to wheel this energy to Missouri, Sammy probably recognizes Kansas residents will be forced to pay their "fair share".   Yeah, Sam supports transmission to shove new wind energy down the throats of eastern states when Kansas residents aren't paying for it, but know under FERC's Order 1000, Kansas residents could be paying for transmission to send wind energy to Missouri and without the federal subsidy the price of wind can be hidden.

Then again, maybe Brownback's backing from coal and the proposed new Sunflower coal plant in Holcomb, Kansas is the motivation.  Yes, Brownback supports a new coal plant that will send energy to states in the south and west.   http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2014/jul/17/groups-246k-ad-campaign-praises-brownback-over-pro/  Then again maybe Governor Brownback, is more like Illinois Democrat Governor Quinn and willing to tell the public what they want to hear but advocate those who pay his campaign.  It's called Pay-to-Play in Illinois.

It's pointless for Gov Brownback to blame the rising cost of energy on Obama and the EPA.  He's the one supporting the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard and paying too much for wind energy.  It's not surprising other states are repealing these Renewable Portfolio Standards as they realize wind energy is expensive.

Perhaps the smart thing for a Governor running for reelection with a failed energy policy, like Governor Brownback or Illinois' Governor Quinn, to do is to embrace it.  State residents should pay their fair share for "clean" energy.  The best way for an incumbent governor to discourage the base  is to hide from his record.

Which is it Governor Brownback?  Do you support wind energy and its high cost to consumers or do you support an open competitive energy market with economically priced energy?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Plains & Eastern Recycles FERC Approval to Pass it Off as News

HA! Look at this!  FERC has approved Plains & Eastern Clean Line’s to negotiate rates...AGAIN.  Somebody should have told North American WINDPOWER FERC already granted Plains & Eastern Clean Line approval to negotiate rates once already.  Here’s a quote from the WINDPOWER 3024 article.
 
Clean Line Energy says its Plains & Eastern Clean Line project has obtained a key regulatory approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Now, here’s an article from the 2012 Windpower Engineering and Development complete with Clean Line Picto-Map Graphic. Notice the similarities to the 2014 article.

Plains and Eastern Clean Line (Clean Line) has obtained a key regulatory approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to begin negotiating transmission service agreements with potential customers of the transmission line project.

It’s virtually the same sentence in the articles two years apart!  Got plagiarism?  Can anybody make up something so absurd?   Skelly, get a new publicist.  A real utility company wouldn’t make such a faux pas.  Is WINDPOWER so disengaged they didn't remember this story was done two years ago. 

This begs an obvious question that WINDPOWER failed to ask.  WTF?  Clean Line Energy had FERC approval to negotiate rates.  Plains & Eastern Clean Line Energy Partners LLC llc llc claimed there is enough interest to supply 485% of Plains & Eastern’s capacity.  So if Clean Line really has 15 wind companies purported to want to utilize a 3,500 MW HVDC powerline, why does Plains & Eastern NEED FERC’s approval to negotiate rates and be allowed to have only one company supplying 100% of the 3,500MW’s?

Something is not adding up here.  

There are 15 wind companies wanting this powerline.

There is up to 17,000MW’s wanting to compete for this powerline.

But Plain’s & Eastern cannot make a go of this and NEED to be allowed to negotiate with only one supplier.  

So what changed?  What made 14 of the alleged 15 wind companies interested in Plains & Eastern walk away?  Why no open season?  Why spin this through a wind energy trade publication like this is allegedly purported to be the first time FERC approved Plains & Eastern the right to negotiate rates?  

Slow public relations traction and Clean Line elects to rerun old news as new news?


Does FERC’s Order 1000 make the Merchant Transmission Model so uncompetitive, it allowed Plains & Eastern to more favorable negotiation privileges?  How does this benefit ratepayers more than the last time FERC approved Plains & Eastern’s last request to negotiate rates?

To me this is more of the same.  Clean Line Energy wants every possible position in their favor before they sell the project to National Grid.  Even if Clean Line Energy Partners puts something in writing in a request to the federal government, they aren’t afraid to ask for a redo.   

Would FERC allow a real utility company such generous negotiation terms?  Would Duke or Southern Company get the same deal?

Are FERC commissioners so determined to advance wind energy, they will allow ratepayers to pay exorbitant rates to advance the industry?

Who is representing the consumer at FERC?  Anyone?  

HAS FERC EVEN NOTICED CLEAN LINE ENERGY PARTNERS KEEPS CLAIMING THIS POWERLINE IS FOR WIND ENERGY WHEN FERC ALREADY TOLD CLEAN LINE ENERGY PARTNERS THEY CANNOT DISCRIMINATE BETWEEN FORMS OF ENERGY?

What's going to be on this line when the "windpower" is not blowing?  It's probably not going to be energy generated from hog manure.

How much is this wind energy from 750 miles away going to cost consumers? 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

FERC, Order 1000, and the Death of the Merchant Transmission Model

FERC Order 1000 passed another hurdle at the D.C. appellate court.  The court made a classic  late Friday afternoon release issuing a ruling on the Order 1000.   Am I the only one suspicious on Friday afternoon releases?  

Back in the summer of 2013 Keryn at STOPPATHWV blog gave a good account for the basis of the appeal.  Later this spring she made an account of the arguments at the appeal.  This weekend, RTO Insider gave a good report on the appeal decision.

For those who do not remember FERC’s Order 1000,  the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is attempt to promote or give “incentives” to build powerlines for promote wind companies.  Yes, Order 1000 is federal bureaucrats picking winners and losers.  Yes, Order 1000 is the government promoting an industry and playing favoritism.  Order 1000’s intent is to promote wind generation corporations through a simpler process to promote building transmission lines to serve the wind industry.  

Order 1000 discourages local generation.  Order 1000 discourages offshore wind generation by subsidizing Midwest wind generation with transmission projects being built and paid for separately.  Order 1000 discourages energy generation in the backyards of east coast urban centers and rewards generation in the less populated areas of the country.  FERC’s Order 1000 also discourages distributed generation and rooftop solar by homeowners.  

Order 1000 is not a friend of Midwesterns who might be living in the path of a political agenda.  Order 1000 is not a friend of the state’s public utility commissions.  In the ruling, the court agrees with FERC that the federal government’s consent for a powerline can argueably still be overruled by state’s commissions.  FERC also argues Order 1000 is a friend of the states because it is intended to promote state’s public policy statements, like Renewable Portfolio Standards.

The Institute for Energy Research (whoever they are) had a good characterization of the appellate court’s ruling.

“Today’s decision continues an unfortunate trend of our court system rubber stamping policies that expand the size and authority of our federal government. FERC Order 1000 socializes the cost of expanding expensive green energy projects—forcing the American people to foot the bill. This blatant disregard for the interests of American families will lead to higher electricity costs and will impact those who can least afford it.

“The Obama administration, Harry Reid, and the national environmental lobby are the only winners here. As always, their victory comes at the expense of the American people.”


How does this affect Clean Line Energy and the Rock Island Clean Line?

Order 1000 is an enemy of my enemy.  While Order 1000 is not a friend of ratepayers as it forces consumers in unaffected states to pay for a project.  It is the socialization of paying for transmission costs.  Conceivably a project by a REAL UTILITY COMPANY could be approved by FERC to wheel wind energy from western Iowa to eastern states to promote wind energy.  Such a project would be paid for in communities everywhere from Iowa to New Jersey through their monthly bills.  

So, why would an eastern state want to buy wind energy shipped across RICL when they could buy wind energy that is shipped through a REAL UTILITY COMPANY and wheeled at “no cost additional costs” across a transmission line paid through cost allocation?  It’s a no brainer.  Wind energy from Iowa would look cheaper if it is shipped across a powerline that is being paid by ratepayers separately?

The Center for American Progress explain’s cost allocation under Order 1000 nicely.



The only plus to FERC’s Order 1000 is it discourages the Merchant Transmission Line Model.  Unfortunately, it socializes costs and forces people hundreds of miles away to pay for the project.  The merchant model is dead under Order 1000.  It’s not competitive as people who don’t care or do not need the transmission line pay for it.   The Wall Street Journal characterized the socialized cost allocation model used by Order 1000 as people in Minnesota paying and benefiting for fixing potholes in New York City. The RICL merchant model cannot compete with such absurdity.  

Could RICL argue that its line is in compliance with Order 1000 and ask for it to be converted to cost allocation from the merchant transmission line model?  They could try, but RICL has already made one failed attempt at cost allocation at PJM, the Regional Transmission Organization.  RICL has also gone far out of their way to argue they are not a part of PJM’s long term planning.  because Clean Line doesn’t not want to comply with the organization’s requirements about financial openness.   We all know Clean Line’s balance sheet probably has a lot of zeros without commas after them, but the company wants to keep bank account and funds available a secret.   

If the federal appeals to Order 1000 run dry before RICL is built, it is conceivable PJM orders a sister project made by ratepayers in Michigan to New Jersey.  RICL would get no customers and no lenders.  If Clean Line attempted an Order 1000 compliant project as proposed by PJM, Clean Line would have to throw out Docket 12-0560 at the Illinois Commerce Commission and start over at the ICC.  

That’s not going to happen.  While Order 1000 is not a friend of ratepayers as FERC attempts to be an arbiter between RTO’s and transmission companies, Order 1000 is also not a friend of RICL and Clean Line’s merchant model.  RICL has effectively boxed themselves out of taking advantage of Order 1000.  

In many respects, it’s a matter of which devil is worse FERC’s Order 1000 or RICL.  For the ratepayer, all we can do is go after one devil at a time, and the first one is RICL.  Appeals to Order 1000 could likely continue and even when appeals are over, the order is so contradictory, it might be impossible to work it out at the Regional Transmission Organizations.  

Regardless of the Appellate Court’s ruling, Keryn’s conclusion at StopPATHWV blog from last March is still true.


When are the needs of consumers going to be considered?  Consumers aren't buying the specious arguments that billions of dollars of new transmission provide benefit to them.  In fact, more and more consumers are taking steps to check out of the grid and invest in their own onsite generators.  Only then will these ridiculous and expensive arguments end.  Meanwhile, fight on fellas.

When is FERC going to be concerned with what is best for consumers?  Now that Big Wind’s  bureaucrat/advocate at FERC, John Norris, has quit, it would be nice change if President Obama nominated a  FERC commissioner who is not interested in promoting a political agenda or part of the energy industry, but consumers instead.  If you are going to dream, dream big.  This monster at FERC is not going to be cut down through the judicial branch and few Congressmen recognize FERC’s abuse of power.  Whoever replaces John Norris needs to be a representative of ratepayers and the public.