Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Clean Line Energy Partners, Private Socialism, and Crony Capitalism Federal Emninent Domain.

Don't know if anyone has noticed but Plains & Eastern Clean Line has a new imaginary friend with an astroturf arificial grassroots Facebook page.  It's something like "Arkansan's for Cheap Energy &Jobs".  Be careful
  Do not say an thing disparaging about Clean Line's propaganda or they will cause you of calling the company names, deleting your comments and blocking you you from making any further comments.  Some people were blocked from commenting for merely "liking" someone else's comments.  Maybe just the thought of referring to Clean Line's CEO Michael Skelly as Smelly Skelly is enough to get a hand slapped.  Names and classifications are acceptable when it fits Clean Line's marketing machine.

Jimmy Glotfelty has claimed to be a "Roosevelt Republican" , although FDR himself would probably call our pal, Jimmy, something less flattering and flirtatious but Clean Line's imaginary Facebook friends would call it name calling. 

Jimmy Glotfelty, vice president of Clean Line Energy Partners llc, has claimed to be a “Roosevelt Republican”.  This is an interesting comparison considering Franklin D.  Roosevelt would call him something less flattering.  FDR fought hard to pass the Public Utilities Holding Act (PUHCA).  President Roosevelt saw a sharp rise in the abuses of holding companies, or rather a company that owns a shell company that owns a shell company…. and so on and so on in the public utility sector.  

During the George W. Bush administration (some call it the Cheney Administration and there is some truth to that), Mr. Glotfelty was working at the Department of Labor.  At that time, he lobbied heavily for the recall of federal oversight of utility companies.  In February 2004 Jimmy testified before the Senate Energy Committee on the 2003 Blackout.  He proudly said the following during his testimony;

"I just got back from spending from spending two days in New York City meeting with investment bankers ... and time and time again we heard that repeal of PUHCA was necessary for more investment in the transmission sector."

Amazing how a blackout caused by poorly maintained tree trimming can create an opportunity for a bureaucrat to claim investment requirements for utilities need to be loosened.  After aggressively lobbying Congress to abolish the Public Utility Holding Company Act (PUHCA), four months later, Mr. Glotfelty abruptly resigned from his position at the Department of Energy.  He went to work for a consulting company in Houston, Texas.  Sometime later, he quietly moved three blocks down the street to Clean Line Energy Partners llc, the venture capital company that would not exist but for his lobbying effort to Congress. 

(It’s too bad the Cheney Energy Task Force notes were never made public.  Jimmy’s influence in those meetings would be interesting)

PUHCA was created during the Franklin Roosevelt administration to protect consumers from speculation capital companies like Clean Line Energy from manipulating the energy markets.  PUCHA was designed to shutdown shenanigans and regulate the energy industry to only permit businesses who were not interested in a quick dollar.   Without PUHCA, the SEC does not regulate and watch over speculation capital companies like Clean Line Energy Partners llc who work in multiple states.  Without this regulation, Rock Island Clean Line llc, which is owned by Rock Island Wind llc, which is owned by Clean Line Energy Partners llc, which is owned by Michael Zilhka, Clean Line Investments (Michael Skelly, Jimmy Glotfelty, and others), and Clean Line Investors, which is owned by ZAM Ventures, which is owned by ZBI Ventures, which is owned by Ziff Brothers Investments, which is owned by the actual Ziff brothers.   Then there is also investor Grid America Holdings llc which is owned by National Grid plc.   

The number of shell companies involved in the ownership of Rock Island, Grain Belt Express, and Plains & Eastern Clean Line llc is beyond belief, and none of these shell companies have yet to produce a product or create added value to the economy.  None of these companies own one mile of cable.  They do not own one electric pole.  How many employees does Grain Belt Express Clean Line actually have? Probably close to zero.  This is exactly the kind of company President Franklin Roosevelt called evil and a private socialist.  Today we call it crony capitalism.   Even Ken Lay of ENRON would be proud of the number of companies involved in this one simple project by Clean Line!

Grain Belt Express desires to be classified by the states as a “public utility” and obtain the power of eminent domain to take the property of individuals and give it a select few billionaires, National Grid (a British company) , the three Ziff brothers, plus the top of Clean Line’s management, with the ulitimate goal of selling the projects once the easements are obtained.  This is indeed what FDR referred to as private socialism.  President Roosevelt said it best in his letter to Congress calling for the regulation of public utility holding companies.

"I am against private socialism of concentrated private power as thoroughly as I am against governmental socialism.  The one is equally as dangerous as the other; and destruction of private socialism is utterly essential to avoid governmental socialism."

Because Grain Belt Express and Plains & Eastern are HVDC powerlines, there is only one start and one finish.  Between the start and finish, Clean Line Energy owns the market and there is no benefit for ratepayers surrounding it.

Clean Line Energy would likely say there is no relationship between Jayshree Desai petitioning Washington to take regulating powers away from Public Utility Boards, and Commerce Commissions and Jimmy Glotfelty successfully lobbying Congress to repeal PUHCA.  Clean Line Energy would also likely claim it is just a coincidence Jimmy Glotfelty’s career currently ends at a speculation capital company after he lobbied Congress to end PUHCA, yet the similarities CLEP has to the former Enron business model is more than a coincidence. 

And now Clean Line has Hans Detweiller in Washington lobbying for federal eminent domain with Senate Bill 1017.

The CLEP model is strictly short term profit oriented.  Avoid Regional Transmission Organizations' expansion planning.  Work outside the state utility regulators and avoid any regulatory oversight that gives them a problem.  Then gear up lobbying for federal eminent domain claiming current energy regulations  are a burden for utility companies when it is only Clean Line that has difficulty working within the system.

If a traditional energy producer wants to build a new transmission line, they must first prove a need for it.  Current state and federal regulations were built to protect consumers within the traditional cost allocation model.  Merchant Transmission Lines that trump RTO's did not exist in the past.  Our existing laws and regulations were both designed for this traditional utility company model, because it largely works by protecting consumers from risk and providing proper planning.

Clean Line Energy and its RICL project recognizes this opportunity to take advantage of deregulation and argues the current rules do not apply to them as a privately held speculation capital merchant transmission line.  Unfortunately, this opportunity for Clean Line Energy comes at the expense of the Midwest public and landowners.    

Is Jimmy Glotfelty a “Roosevelt Republican”?  No. 

He is a what Roosevelt called a Private Socialist that relies on crony capitalism with governmental favoritism.  America does not need eminent domain driven by political agendas and preferential treatment  to chosen "winners". 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Mark Lawlor of Grain Belt Express concedes to BLOCKGBE in Missouri!

Much has been learned by Clean Line's style of propaganda and keep everything positive.  In the spirit of positive spin, we can now say Mark Lawlor is beginning to agree with BLOCKGBE!  This is bigger than one transmission project. 

Electric Policy.com recent article is a hoot!  Yeah, it’s largely behind a paywall but even still it says enough.  The article is about Grain Belt Express choking at the Missouri Public Service Commission and Clean Line threats of intimidation of federal eminent domain.  Perhaps Clean Line thinks it is the nuclear option, but it is more like attempts to scare the public with threats of the boogeyman.  Federal eminent domain doesn’t exist.  The Administration and the Department of Energy cannot execute federal eminent domain by Executive Order.  Federal eminent domain can only be created by legislation (in an election year).  It is doubtful the Secretary of Energy and Clean Line can hire the Army to enforce a non existent federal eminent domain.  The best line from this article is;

“But Mark Lawlor, Clean Line’s director of development, says the issue is larger than Missouri or the project.”

HA!  Clean Line finally concedes that point!  BLOCKRICL and BLOCKGBE have been saying from the start that this is bigger that one powerline! 

These projects don’t need to be rerouted and one project does not have more merit than another.  None of Clean Line’s projects have merit.  These projects don’t need to be rerouted.  This company needs to go out of business, but Mark Lawlor probably doesn’t agree with that point yet.

Clean Line’s idea appears to be positioning itself for help from actual utility companies in lobbying for federal eminent domain.   Good luck with that after Clean Line has refused to work within the Regional Transmission Organization’s planning and expansion process. 

There is a current process for transmission siting.  A Regional Transmission Organization determines there is a congestion or constraint.  Companies propose solutions.  After consideration the least cost and best solution is recommended.  The company then approaches the states’ utility commissions for approval and if necessary, eminent domain authority. 

As we are witnessing with Plains & Eastern Clean Line’s federal application under Section 1222 of the 2005 Energy Policy Act, federal eminent domain simply doesn’t work.  The Department of Energy is a political extension of the Executive Branch with potential influences from lobbyists.  Democrats wouldn’t want to give the Dick Cheney Administration eminent domain power any more than Republicans want to give it to the Obama Administration   The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) would move from a Rubberstamp Machine to become a combination farce and circus, a real FERC FARCUS with no possible means of public representation in an industry regulated by insiders.   Does Clean Line really think Regional Transmission Organization and supporting utilities will support removing a process that is beginning to work for a political process?

Actually, this situation is kind of ironic.  The problem with most trade publications like Electricity Policy.com is trade publications do not want to offend anyone within the industry.  It is rare to find a publication that actually reports on an industry like RTOINSIDER rather than regurgitate company propaganda.     Unfortunately, trade publications become so watered down and bland, they lack relevancy.  In Energy Policy.com’s effort to write a good propaganda piece from Clean Line Energy, under the assumption “what’s good for Clean Line, is good for the industry”, they are probably offending a good portion of the industry.  Most likely, the more Clean Line Energy llc pushes for federal eminent domain, the more the industry will be backing away from it. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Clean Line Receives Missouri Approval to Play Pocket Pool

Clean Line receives Missouri approval to play pocket pool!   It is quite funny how Clean Line will spin a denial into a positive.  They hate to state a negative, like Missouri Public Service Commission is denying Grain Belt Express a Certificate of Necessity and Public Convenience, the ability to be classified a public utility, and a chance at eminent domain. 

When Clean Line’s proposed Rock Island Clean Line first applied to the Illinois Commerce Commission, every question answered on their original testimonies were answered in the affirmative and very positive. 

When the Rock Island Clean Line was denied a Certificate of Public Necessity and Convenience under Section 8-503 by the ICC, Clean Line quickly spun it as an approval under Section 8-406.   That approval alone without 8-503 prevented Clean Line from obtaining eminent domain.  Nevertheless, Clean Line got  a couple headlines as an “approval”.

Then about two weeks ago there was a headline in the Missouri Times “Clean Line Receives Pocket Approval from Legislation”.  With a subtitle “Related: Grain Belt Express project moves process forward, receiving public support”.   Nice job with the Clean Line Energy Partners llc PR Machine at implying Missouri has approved the Grain Belt Express.

So how is Clean Line Energy Partners going to spin an imminent denial of eminent domain, and consideration to be a public utility?  One humble recommendation would be to spin it as an approval for something other than the ability to build their privately owned transmission line.   Approval to pound sand, approval to pursue other ventures are a couple more suggestions. 

Oh where does Clean Line go from here?  If they chose to enter Kansas from Iowa, they would have to reapply in Illinois with a new route, and most likely reapply in Kansas also.  Then there is Nebraska. I don’t think their warm to Clean Line either.  So what’s next for Clean Line?  How strongly are they lobbying for passage of a federal eminent domain bill?    Sounds like a long shot in turning this no to a yes and forcing your eminent domain on the Midwest.

What's next?  Maybe Department of Energy denial of Plains & Eastern Clean Line.  We all know that project isn't going to happen.   

Hillary Clinton's Op-Ed in support of Iowa Wind Energy

This Hillary Clinton opinion editorial from Iowa in The Gazette is still eating at me. 

Today, rural America is an energy leader, providing clean electricity and transportation fuels to the rest of the country, reducing energy waste, and strengthening our economic competitiveness. In the past seven years, the United States has added enough wind capacity to power more than 13 million homes. Ninety nine percent of that energy comes from rural communities, creating jobs, providing a second source of income for family farms, and attracting $100 billion in new investment.
….and closing;
Smart investments in rural America aren’t rocket science — it’s just good sense that delivers for all Americans. Providing investment certainty, removing barriers, and investing in the infrastructure to deliver reliable and affordable energy to rural households and deliver rural clean energy to the rest of the country is a good start.

As president, I’ll champion what works, ensure that Americans have the tools they need to lead the world in clean energy, and stand up to those who block our way and want to keep us trapped in an energy economy of the past.

Presidential politics in Iowa is a beast all its own.  A while back a “grassroots” organization sprouted in Iowa called WINDWARD IOWA.  I still believe WINDWARD is a phony organization setup by a certain wannabe privately owned “public” utility.  When WINDWRD was first discovered, doing an internet investigation and discovered a Des Moines public relations firm and law firm looked to be setting this “grassroots” organization up.  While trying to keep up with this team, it surprised me to learn just how many national and international marketing and public relation companies had offices in Iowa.  I never imagined big name public relations firms have offices in Washington D.C>, New York City, London, and Iowa.   There is only one reason these companies keep offices in Iowa.  It is the first in the nation caucus every four years, and it is critical for a candidate to be the first out of the gate as a “winner”.    Little things like energy policy statements are probably written or heavily contributed by Iowa specific staffers who tell the candidate they are more familiar to the state’s residents and know what they want to hear. 

I don’t believe for a minute THE HILLARY CLINTON actually wrote this op-ed in The Gazette.  The words “stand up to those who block our way”, and especially the word “block” seems unusual.  Someone on the Hillary for Iowa team probably wrote the piece.   It just seems like too much of a wink to the BLOCK CLEAN LINE groups (BLOCKRICL in Iowa and Illinois).  It’s just such an unusual statement.  Draw your own conclusions but I believe someone supporting the Rock Island Clean Line included it.   Then again, let’s borrow a Hillary term and “suspend our ability of disbelief” and just go with the op-ed was written by her, and she is willing to stand up to those who block their way. 

If that’s the case.  Hillary Clinton really should learn more about Iowa and the Midwest.  Building an infrastructure to promote wind corporations at the expense of individual rights, including eminent domain for wind corporations is becoming a sensitive issue.   When it’s your home, standing up and blocking the way of international corporations and New York City billionaires is patriotic.   

Keystone was a sensitive issue in neighboring Nebraska.  Iowa is now looking at an oil pipeline crossing the state diagonally, a host of transmission projects being paid by ratepayers through cost allocations for the development and profits of wind energy corporations, and then there is the Rock Island Clean Line, the proposed privately owned “public” utility that wants eminent domain power and is now lobbying for federal eminent domain.

If a Presidential candidate really wants to engage the public, have voters believe she identifies with them, and garner attention in the Midwest, opposing eminent domain abuse from private companies who desire to be considered a public utility is the smart position.  Telling voters “I will stand up to those who block our way” is not what Midwest voters want.  People hear “I will steamroll landowners who oppose my campaign contributors”. 

Eminent domain abuse is the problem.  We want a Presidential candidate who is willing to identify that problem.  The candidate doesn’t have to say “I oppose the Rock Island Clean Line” or “I oppose the proposed Bakken pipeline”, but just identify the problem of eminent domain abuse exists and America needs to decide which infrastructure projects are needed and best for America.