Friday, December 19, 2014

SWPA, TVA, WFEC, and Plains & Eastern Clean Line Section 1222

Lets get back to that memo from former Energy Secretary Steven Chu telling Power Marketing Agencies to start pushing wind energy for a moment.  So if former Energy Secretary Chu’s memo to exploit Section 1222 for the wind industry raised a ruckus, who was complaining?  It wasn’t the public.  We weren’t aware of it at the time.  Apparently, the Western Farmer’s Electric Cooperative in Oklahoma and New Mexico was one of the objectors.  Here's a portion of their statement. 

(FYI, PMA are Power Management Agencies, like the Southwestern Power Administration who manages the electricity generated from Corp of Engineer's hydroelectric dams.)

Like the other PMAs, SWPA charges the “lowest possible rates, consistent with sound business principles” (Section 5 of the Flood Control Act of 1944). This means that SWPA sets its wholesale power rates at levels that are sufficient to recover the investment costs of the hydropower and transmission system – plus interest – as well as the annual operating and maintenance costs of the Corps’ hydro plants and SWPA. The PMAs are one of the few federal programs that recover all associated federal costs. But Secretary Chu wants the PMAs to take on new responsibilities well beyond simply marketing federal hydropower. What does this mean?
Mission creep for DOE and higher costs for electric consumers!

The Western Farmer’s Electric Cooperative predicted this one correctly.  This abuse of Section 1222 of the 2005 Energy Policy Act is mission creep.   The WFEC continues with more insight.

Get ready for a bunch more proposals for SWPA to use its federal eminent domain authority to acquire rights-of-way for transmission lines that  likely will provide little or no benefit to federal power delivery and could provide little or no benefit to interconnectivity of the grid – another goal identified earlier in the Chu memo. There is no provision in the memo to seek changes in Section 1222 to shield PMA hydro customers from any of the costs or other liabilities associated with
SWPA’s participation in transmission construction for third parties. 
That sums up Plains & Eastern Clean Line fairly well.

The Daily Signal also had commentary about the Chu memo to use the SWPA to implement the Administration’s green agenda.

If the PMAs need such investments, then they should be made because it makes business sense—and funded through PMA revenues—not with taxpayer dollars because the President is running out of more transparent ways to advance his green energy agenda.

So if the SWPA has to sell energy at below market rates, how is the SWPA allowed to sponsor Plains & Eastern to sell at a premium to wholesale rates?   

For that matter, does the SWPA feel betrayed and used by the administration to promote a wind energy agenda?   

Section 1222 was added to the 2005 Energy Policy Act to promote the SWPA advance hydroelectric energy, Plain & Simple.  The Administration has abused Section 1222 to the point where the Department of Energy is using the SWPA as a surrogate to obtain an easement through eminent domain for Clean Line Energy, who intends to sell the project to National Grid once the Right-of-Way is acquired.  What ever happened to the SWPA’s original purpose to generate and market hydroelectricity? 

In the end, we still have the Obama’s Administration using the Department of Energy to force the Southwestern Power Administration to utilize a portion of the 2005 Energy Policy Act to use eminent domain muscle to acquire of 16,000 acres of easement through Oklahoma and Arkansas for a privately owned speculation company to build a powerline to promote the members of the American Wind Energy Association.  There is no one to appeal this seizure of private property other than the Department of Energy who is under control by the President of the United States.  

What about Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness?  
What happened to the appreciation of private ownership of property?  
The Declaration of Independence?  
The Constitution?  
The Rule of Law?  

 We live in a new area of a “living breathing Constitution” where the Administration is not bound to laws.  The Administration through the Department of Energy can seize your land to build a speculation company's powerline to advance a political agenda.  

It is a good guess that the SPWA is asking the same questions and has the same contempt for Clean Line Energy with there Plains & Eastern Clean Line as Arkansas residence and others in the Midwest fearful of an abuse of eminent domain by the federal government to promote a political agenda.   In the end, the Obama administration, wind energy and Clean Line are nothing more than looters that used the guise of “clean” energy to justify the seizure of our means of living, income from our farms, our homes and privately owned lands.  With Secretary Chu gone and Secretary Ernest Moniz holding the job, prudence will prevail and this abuse of Section 1222 will come to an end. 

FERC Didn't Rubberstamp a Transmission Line

Holy Moeller Batman!

FERC didn't rubberstamp a transmission project!

Shocking.  There's a first time for everything.  For those in Northern Illinois, you might remember all those lines that were being proposed.  One was the RITELine.  It was a 756KV partnership between ComeEd and AEP.  Looks like FERC didn't like the fact that RITELine didn't obtain approval from PJM in their longterm grid planning.  While there was a reference to MISO planning, FERC felt that PJM being the recipient would be a a more reliable source.

Not sure if this makes the RITELine project dead our just a setback.  Then again, maybe this is a part of ComEd's master plan to destroy the gravy train for wind corporations.  I'd like to think they are that diabolical, but doubt it.  They do have the best lawyers in the business and historically do not chase "easy" transmission money....naugh this is just a conspiracy theory.  They wouldn't sabotage the wind/transmission gravy train. 

What is most interesting is the minority statement by FERC Commissioner Phillip Moeller.  Apparently he didn't get the memo that FERC might be swinging a new direction.  Perhaps with John Norris gone to be Ag Ambassador to Rome and Jon Wellinghoff retired, Moeller finds himself in a lonesome minority.

Here's Moeller's statement.  

 “In my initial dissent in this proceeding, I observed that “[n]ow is not the time for this Commission to begin retreating from its incentive policy on needed transmission lines.” And today, if we are going to produce less carbon dioxide when generating electricity, we’ll need more transmission lines to move cleaner sources of power to those who need it. In particular, because RITELine will allow power to move from the west to the east, this project can help nuclear and wind power move from the west, where it is produced, to the east, where it is needed.

“This action thus sets up a collision between two federal agencies that regulate the energy industry. That is, while the Environmental Protection Agency is moving to limit carbon dioxide, which will require more transmission lines, this Commission is changing its policies on transmission incentives in a manner that actually discourages the very transmission that will be needed to satisfy EPA requirements.

“In reducing the usual incentive from 150 to 100 basis points, the Commission makes a significant policy change without justification for that change.”

And that's why people believe FERC needs to be castrated.  It's not FERC's job to be the advocate of transmission companies.  It's not FERC's job to make Public Policy Legislation.  It's not FERC's job to be the hand-maiden of the E.P.A.  It's apparent, like John Norris, Phillip Moeller has a bias towards wind corporations.

There is no reason why nuclear generation cannot be done in eastern states.  There is no reason why Atlantic states can't develop offshore wind generation.   American doesn't need thousands of miles of new transmission to pander to the wind corporations.

With FERC commissioners like Phillip Moeller, why have federal oversiting (misspell intended)?

FERC's job isn't to be a siting partner for transmission.  FERC's job is to oversight the industry.  When there are commissioners like Moeller, who is representing the public at FERC? There is no ratepayer advocate at FERC. 

Hopefully, the Cheryl LaFleur/Norman Bay era of FERC makes some changes towards consumer protection against unneeded transmission.  This is a good start. 

It's FAQ Friday!!!

You know what rubs me raw wrong?
 It’s Clean Line’s “FAQ Friday” on their Facebook page.             
Some of us were banned from their original Facebook page some time ago. Yes, I might have made a comment in anger that might be constituted as “insurrection” by some, and I apologized for that.  Let's moving on Clean Line.  We promise to play nice.

On Fridays, Clean Line’s doesn’t take questions from stakeholder, but asks themselves powder-puff-softball questions and gives political correct answers.  RidiculousRICL needs a FAQ Friday also where real questions are asks, and since Clean Line representatives won’t answer our stakeholder questions, …we’ll take the liberty to supply the answer we suspect Michael Skelly is thinking but not saying.  Again, for CLEP lawyers, these are not Clean Line's official answers, but probably closer to the truth.

If anyone has a FAQ that CLEP won’t answer, leave a comment.

FAQ for Clean Line.
FAQ:  With the Illinois Commerce Commission approving the Rock Island Clean Line’s petition, does Clean Line intend to appeal the ICC’s decision? 
CLEP’s potential answer:  We like to make a “NO” into a “YES”.  While we are pleased that the ICC has granted approval under Section 8-406, it is unfortunate they did not grant approval under 8-503. 

FAQ:  But doesn’t “NO” mean “NO”?
CLEP’s potential answer:  Sometimes “NO” means “YES”.  We believe this is one of those instances and are excited about the opportunity to convert this NO into a Yes.

Clean Line was denied by the ICC under Section 8-503 and this means they do not qualify for potential eminent domain.  Clean Line was granted consent under Section 8-460 and can operate as a "public utility" but has several qualifiers before they can start building .  After all the press releases from Clean Line stating they are pleased with the ICC’s approval, it will be interesting to see if they appeal a decision that they claim was in their favor.  As shameless as Clean Line has been, my bet is they will appeal the ICC board's decision.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Plains & Eastern, Federal Eminent Domain, & the Seizure of Our Means

“He’s the looter that justifies the seizure of my means.”  ---Ayn Rand  Atlas Shrugged

That sums up Michael Skelly and Clean Line Energy Partners llc, looters that justifies the seizure of our means.   Do is bother anyone else that the Plains & Eastern “partner” is the Department of Energy. 

Who commissions the project was necessary?   The Department of Energy.
Who authorizes the eminent domain for the project?  The Department of Energy.
Who can ratepayers appeal to if they believe the project is not needed?  The Department of Energy
Who can landowners appeal is they believe the company is not bargaining in good faith?  The Department of Energy.

Kinda seems like a conflict of interest with the Department of Energy acting as the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branch on this project.  It’s one thing for the Department of Energy to pick “winners” and “losers”  and make bad investments (like Soylandra), but with Plains & Eastern, the DoE has one job in this “partnership”, to acquire the easement with the eminent domain authority of the United States government. 

Do you wonder how the Southwestern Power Agency feels about being used by the Obama Administration to promote wind energy?  The SwPA’s job is to market hydroelectric electricity as a nonprofit.  The Southwestern Power Agency has nothing to do with wind energy.  They own no wind turbines.  They market no wind energy. 

It sure looks like the Obama Administration is pimping them out to the wind industry.  Call it what it is.  The Administration is taking the SwPA and selling them out to the wind industry like it’s the Administration’s prostitute to sell as it pleases.   Yes that sounds strong, but it is what it is.  How do you think customers of the SwPA or other Power Marketing Administrations feel about Section 1222 being used to wheel wind energy out of their markets? 

Here’s a somewhat interesting article about  Lauren Azar’s dismissal from the Department of Energy with an interesting quote.

“Azar focused on overhauling government-owned chunks of the power grid that outraged lawmakers, utility groups and four politically wired entities known as power marketing administrations, or PMAs.  Azar's time at DOE was marked by a big blowup over a memo that Chu sent last year to the PMAs, ordering them to leverage partnerships, rate-making power and financing to spur upgrades to their collective 33,700 miles of transmission and boost reliability and access for renewable energy sources.”

So how influential was Azar in pushing Plains & Eastern Clean Line under Section 1222 of the 2005 Energy Policy Act?  If she’s gone, who at the Department of Energy is driving the Administration’s “all of the above” (except everything but wind energy) political agenda?  Another quote from the Azar article places more light in the problem. 

Fingers pointed to Azar. The American Public Power Association blamed the Chu adviser for failing to collaborate with industry in her pursuit of a pro-renewable energy agenda.
"The perception was that had she collaborated and consulted with folks more at the outset in developing the agenda she wanted to pursue, and then worked with customers to prioritize and implement those things, that would have been much more effective," said Joe Nipper, the trade group's senior vice president of government affairs.

Huh.  Sound like the Southwestern Power Administration didn’t appreciate being hookered out by the Executive Branch.  The author of the Azar article did interview her and presented her side also. 

"I'm much more about where the rubber meets the road than high-level policy debates," Azar said.
She rejected the notion the controversial memo was all her doing or representative of a top-down approach. Both DOE and PMA officials, she said, helped implement the order. Chu asked the PMAs to take a leadership role, she added.
"Folks who were critical of the memo were pulling up very specific sentences or words ... which I understand if you didn't like the memo, that's exactly what you do to attack it," Azar said. "But if you do look at the overall thrust of the memo, it was quite simply, 'Let's ensure we have a robust, resilient, modern grid.'"
Others who fought strayed too close to the PMAs and faced similar problems.
Jimmy Glotfelty, founder of Clean Line Energy Partners and a former senior electricity adviser for President George W. Bush, said Azar should be remembered for trying to build infrastructure and integrate renewables in a thoughtful and cooperative manner.

And there lies the problem that rubs so many wrong.  Jimmy Glotfelty was pushing Section 1222 in 2003.  While he left the DoE before the 2005 bill was passed, he is now the sole benefactor of Section 1222’s eminent domain. 

The Wind Industry lobbyist (AWEA) also weighed in on Azar’s departure from the Department of Energy. 

"The DOE should always have a visible transmission advocate, and she served that role," said Rob Gramlich, the American Wind Energy Association's senior vice president of public policy.

But who is the advocate for the Ratepayer?   Who in the administration takes the contrarian view and asks is the public really needs to sacrifice for projects to make millions for the wind industry?   And why is the administration playing favorites for the wind industry?  Sorry, to the people who live on the 16,000 acres covered by the Plains and Eastern easement?  Sometimes hard decisions have to be made to promote “clean” energy.  Some people just have to sacrifice to promote the President’s “clean” agenda.  Besides, Arkansas and Oklahoma voted for Obama’s opponent in the last election. 

So if Energy Secretary Chu’s memo to exploit Section 1222 for the wind industry raised a ruckus, who was complaining?  It wasn’t the public.  We weren’t aware of it at the time. 

Unfortunately, it spells disaster when the government thinks they can create economic growth.  Swindling over 16,000 acres of land from hard working Americans and gifting it to Clean Line Energy Partners llc is not economic growth.  Some economists would call it a transfer of wealth, but it's looting.  It is looting with the Department of Energy attempting to justify the seizure of our means.  It's looting with the Obama Administration justifying limiting and destroying our farms and source of income.

Secretary Moniz, call off former Secretry Chu's dogs.   Nothing good can up from this land grab for the wind industry.  Look what happened in Nevada with the Bureau of Land Management and one cattle rancher.  No one wants a situation like that again over a politically charged powerline across the Midwest.  Plains & Eastern was Chu's folly.  I sure hope Sec Moniz is wise enough to drop the former Secretary's bad idea.