One of my favorite moments in electric transmission history involves a 1966 initiative by our friends at the Edison Electric Institute to commission one of the "preeminent industrial design firms" of the day to design a number of "aesthetic" high voltage transmission structures that would "be universally acceptable to the industry and the public."  You can read all about this stunning moment in electric transmission history in a research paper published in 1997 (Levy, Eugene. “The Aesthetics of Power: High-voltage Transmission Systems and the American Landscape”. Technology and Culture 38.3 (1997): 575–607.)  You can read this paper free online at (requires sign-up for free membership).  The paper reviews a whole bunch of mid-century utility efforts to make electric transmission towers prettier and thus more acceptable to a public who was increasingly opposed to the construction of these unsightly, dangerous structures in their communities.

Although EEI's project was an abysmal failure, the utility industry wasn't about to give up its attempt to "sway by words" and continued the effort to beautify transmission towers through a series of industry magazine advertisements.  It wasn't really about swaying the public at that point, but about swaying the utility executives to purchase new designs that they believed were more beautiful than traditional towers.  And the utility industry of the day was dominated by men.  And the fastest way to a man's heart is through his... ummm... stop.  Anyhow, a 1968 A.B. Chance Co. advertisement in one utility rag utilized what was supposed to be a hot 1968 woman, dubbed "Miss Beautility," singing a little song about her "15-minute color film showing the use of strong, tapered, galvanized steel unipoles."  Oh, behave, you silly men!  Get your minds out of the gutter.  "Miss Beautility" wasn't talking about YOUR unipole!

American Electric Power is still enthralled with its unipole.  It made some big to do about its new BOLD design recently.  AEP claims that its "elegant" unipole "imparts a more favorable aesthetic appearance." 

Says who?
  AEP hasn't published any public opinion polling results that back up its aesthetic claims.

Nevertheless, AEP claims, "Efficiency never looked so good!"

However, the public that opposes transmission towers hasn't expressed a desire for "a streamlined, low-profile structure with phase-conductor bundles arranged into compact delta configurations."  Only AEP gets excited about that.

I'm really disappointed that AEP wasted all its brainpower developing another overhead transmission structure.  It doesn't matter what the tower looks like.  The industry has tried shaping them like people.  Or Mickey MouseClownsRobotDeer.  And many more bright ideas to "disguise" or "amuse" the people who gotta live with them.  I'm still waiting for the tower shaped like a dollar sign, since building new towers directly translates to increased utility profits.

But here's the reality.  What society wants is not to see these towers at all.  This is what the perfectly aesthetic electric transmission tower looks like.

It's buried.

Since AEP probably doesn't have any employees who look and think like this guy
AEP needs to get with the program and put its money and talents on a true aesthetically pleasing transmission solution.  One we can't see.

AEP is wasting its time on overhead line design.  It's BOLD design is about as appealing as a fresh turd.  It won't do a thing to ameliorate public opposition to new transmission projects.  Fail.
It's really no secret at all how TDI New England is speeding through approvals for its New England Clean Power Link project.
The Clean Power Link is entirely underwater or underground.

The line will originate at the U.S.-Canadian border and travel approximately 97 miles underwater down Lake Champlain to Benson, Vt., and then be buried along town and state roads and railroad rights-of-way or on land owned by TDI New England for approximately 57 miles to a new converter station to be built in Ludlow, Vt.

The Clean Power Link encountered minimal public resistance in Vermont because of the burial of the line.

“It is well recognized in the industry that siting is one of the most difficult facets of building new energy infrastructure,” said Susan Schibanoff with Responsible Energy Action. “NECPL dealt with that issue first by creating solid community and political support with a fully buried line. It has clearly paid off in terms of the record speed with which they have moved ahead.”

This amazing project completed its Environmental Impact Statement in just two years!  The Union Leader compares it to the stalled, overhead Northern Pass project, which has been trying to get its EIS completed since 2010.  That's 5 years, and no end in sight.

When transmission developers design projects to be as unobtrusive and acceptable to landowners as possible, the developer can save millions in expensive advocacy-building and opposition battling tactics, as well as years in its project timeline.

This means burial, especially on public land/water, and along existing roadways or other rights-of-way.  No eminent domain is required. 

But, but, but... a buried project is so much more expensive than an overhead project, whine the transmission developers.

And they fear adding "unnecessary" cost of burial to an O1000 competitively bid project for fear of not being awarded the project.  Let's see these guys start making logical arguments to the RTO about the amount of time and money saved by not having any opposition, not having huge land/eminent domain costs to acquire rights-of-way from private landowners, and general constructability of a buried project vs. any additional cost of burial along public rights-of-way
.  I think they will pretty much balance themselves out.  The more buried projects that get built, the cheaper it will become.

Because NECPL proves that is IS possible get 'er done in a timely fashion while keeping your integrity intact.  Even for a merchant project (NECPL is a merchant project).

There's a lesson here for the transmission industry, if you can actually teach some very old dogs a new trick.  Can transmission developers shrug off their old dirty tricks that lie to communities?  Can they ever be honest with affected communities?  Can they develop some integrity?  Better ideas are right there for the taking. 
This is the modern way to get needed transmission built.  Anybody who tries to tell you different is a dinosaur who needs to retire.

In response to "stakeholders" following the trail of breadcrumbs that lead to 888 First Street, N.E., Washington, DC, FERC's Office of Energy Projects has come out with a "Suggested Best Practices for Industry Outreach Programs for Stakeholders."

*sigh*  Reads no better than any industry propaganda, beginning with its title.  Was FERC really attempting to mollify the public and prove that it's acting in the public interest with this?  FERC staff needs to take this brochure home to grandma and ask her if she thinks it was written in a conversational and informative manner.  She'll probably buy you some gigantic, ugly, 1940's-style underwear next Christmas in response.  Or knit you a suit jacket and pop into the office with cookies at random intervals to make sure you're wearing it.

FERC realizes that landowners are "stakeholders!"  Yay!  But it's all downhill from there.  While FERC recommends involving "the public" early in the process on the first page, venturing further shows recommendation that the company involve local elected officials before landowners, in order to "sell" them on the project (while making campaign contributions?).  In this way, the company can head off landowner concerns by indoctrinating the public's representatives in the "company way" so that when landowners find out about the project and turn to their local elected officials for help, there is none to be had.  Of course, this is easily turned around with enough landowner (voter) pressure, making early elected official notification sort of useless.

There's also recommendations for a whole bunch of "stakeholder" meetings, where only selected "key stakeholders" are invited to participate.  Landowners aren't invited to these, they only get to participate in public "open house" meetings, where they are presented with the project as a fait accompli.  FERC supposes involving "key stakeholders" can "result in developing partnerships with special interest groups, municipalities, and community business organizations."  Holy back room deal, Batman!  Is FERC suggesting that a company buy cozy relationships with certain community groups that can benefit from the project so that they can throw the impacted landowners under the bus for their own profit, or for the simple benefit of making sure the project is not constructed in their own back yards, but in the back yards of others who are politically powerless or not participating in this process?  Wrong approach!

This whole brochure fails because it's based on the "information deficit" model
.  It presumes that the only reason people oppose projects is because they lack enough information.  It supposes that if a person is bombarded with enough "information" (propaganda) that they will acquiesce to having their lives turned upside down for benefit of others.  It doesn't work.  Never has.  Never will.  It actually increases the potential for entrenched opposition and local political battles.

FERC obviously doesn't notice that it has placed itself squarely in the corporate camp.  Maybe they didn't intend to, but this brochure reveals who FERC identifies with... and it's not landowners.  FERC presumes a proposed project must be built as proposed.  FERC could use a crash course in how and why opposition develops.  Come out of your ivory (city soot coated) tower!  There's much to be learned!

Presenting the public with a project as a fait accompli is the first crucial mistake.  Nobody likes to learn that a company, or their elected officials, or the Sierra Club, or the Chamber of Commerce, or the "good ol' boys" in their town (or even FERC... especially FERC) have been secretly developing a project that takes their property.  People's property is sacred to them.  You might as well show up with a plan to conscript our children.  You'd never do that, right?  But it's the exact same punch in the gut feeling when a landowner learns others have been conspiring to take what belongs to him.

If you really want impacted landowners to get on board with a project, you need to involve them in the decision making from the start.  Instead of saying, "we need to build this," how about saying, "we have a problem and here are several ways to solve it, but we're open to suggestion"?

Only when the public gets some ownership of the decisions made are they likely to work cooperatively toward a solution.  This is a still a democracy, right?

I've been trying to keep my nose to the ol' grindstone and ignore the calliope music coming from PJM's "Annual Meeting" in Atlantic City.  But it's really hard to ignore it when a clown scampers across your computer screen before you've even had your morning coffee.

I started my day today with the latest issue of RTO Insider.  I figured it went well with coffee and would be a pleasant way to wake up before going back to work on something that matters.  I love RTO Insider almost as much as chocolate donuts!

Bowring, Gates’ Consultant Spar over PJM Traders’ Obligations on Loopholes

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — To shake or not to shake the Money Tree?

That was the question Independent Market Monitor Joe Bowring posed during his Year in Review presentation at PJM’s Annual Meeting last week, setting off a lively debate with one of the consultants that Richard and Kevin Gates, enlisted in their high profile defense against market manipulation allegations.

“If the rules are imperfect, is it OK to do anything not explicitly prohibited?” Bowring asked.

He quickly provided his own answer. “It is not permissible,” he said, citing what he called the “duty” of market participants to inform RTO officials and federal regulators of such “money trees.”
Is this rule supposed to apply equally to every entity FERC regulates?  Doesn't Bowring realize that utilities routinely exploit "unclear" rules in order to pocket a little extra scratch?  If regulated utilities had a duty to report all their "misinterpretation" money trees to FERC, we're going to need a couple more hotlines.  Of course, if the utilities are so busy self-reporting all their shakes (or kicks, flicks, and karate chops) of the "money tree," they might not have time to "accidentally" misinterpret any rules that result in a profit for their shareholders, would they?  Or will they simply have to hire new monkeys to shake the tree, while the old monkeys watch and phone in a report to FERC's hotline?

Utilities large and small routinely interpret FERC rules in incorrect and bizarre ways in order to squeak some additional profit from them.  Except FERC never fines its utility pets $30M when they get caught breaking the rules.  It's all giggle, giggle, hush, hush, slap my wrist, I promise to be good if you overlook this little "misunderstanding."  FERC needs to tighten that shit up and adopt Bowring's "Money Tree Methodology" for everyone!

I do so admire Bowring's enthusiasm.  You go, sport!  I hear there's going to be a vacant spot on the Commission soon!  Maybe you should be Chairman?

What do you suppose caused Bowring's money tree epiphany?  Do you suppose he participated in the "Spa Toccare"* leisure activity in order to relax and clear his mind before giving his report to the membership?
Whatever you do, don't click on the clown picture above.
No, don't do it!

Well, that would explain things then.  Thanks a lot, Joe, for making me snort with laughter before the coffee was even ready to drink.

*Dedicated to undoing the effects of your day, Spa Toccare offers relaxing treatments guaranteed to exhilarate. Here, tensions melt, knots disappear, skin glistens and eyes sparkle. A new you emerges just in time to wave bye-bye to your worldly cares.
Drama, drama, drama.  I'm pretty sure the media over-dramatized the outages in DC yesterday.  Maybe not a bad thing to raise awareness, but they've missed the real message.

OMG - like this outage affected IMPORTANT people doing IMPORTANT things!  Like Pepco is sooooooo bad!

This article covers the basics, and with a few additional details from WaPo's more dramatic version, here's the story:

A hot 230-kV transmission line (conductor) just randomly fell off its tower in Southern Maryland.  No storm.  No damage.  It just broke for no apparent reason.  Live, uninsulated transmission line on the ground started a grass fire.  Lucky it didn't fall on any people, vehicles, etc. that happened to be in the right-of-way at that time.  The fault caused a bunch of other lines and generators to trip offline in self-defense against resulting voltage swings.  And the lights went out many miles away in Washington, D.C.

So, no big deal, faults happen.  But the grid is supposed to be designed so that other lines instantly spring to life and take the load of the one out of service and the fault ends up being nothing more than a barely-noticed blip.  But that didn't happen, it started to cascade to other lines and generators.  Comparison was made to the 2003 northeast blackout, when a fault on a transmission line in Ohio cascaded into a regional blackout.  The concept is quite the same, but the effect not as far-reaching.  Do you suppose we'll need a multi-million dollar government task force to examine the incident?

What's the real problem here?

Lack of maintenance and upgrades to existing transmission lines.  The industry is so busy chasing the big profits that come from building NEW transmission that they aren't investing their money in maintaining the assets already in service.  Perhaps our federal regulatory agencies need to start encouraging maintenance and rebuilds of aging lines with financial incentives?

And then there's the problem of parasites like DC that have no generation of their own and depend on transmission lines from distant generators.  The more transmission lines we build, and the more centralized the system that supplies electricity, the bigger this problem becomes.

Stop it.  Stupid.

Distributed generation and less transmission lines = reliability.

FirstEnergy is at it again.  Its affiliate JCP&L's "Montville-Whippany Reinforcement Project" not only gave the New Jersey towns of Parsippany and Montville the ol' bait and switch, it's deep into dividing and conquering both of the towns by throwing the focus on shoving the line off onto someone else and pitting neighbor against neighbor, instead of allowing BOTH towns to join forces and focus on the real enemy -- FirstEnemy... errr... Energy!

Last year JCP&L held "open house" sessions for a route through Parsippany.  The townsfolk jumped all over opposing the line, forming a grassroots opposition group and making a lot of noise. Last week, JCP&L held another series of open houses announcing they had selected a different route through neighboring Montville

Montville has already been ground zero for PSE&G's "Susquehanna Roseland" transmission project.  I guess the geniuses at JCP&L think transmission lines are like potato chips -- you can never have just one?  So, not only is Montville already an experienced transmission opposition warrior, but JCP&L had to go and enrage the town's leadership with its tired, old "open house" meeting format, which the mayor referred to as "the stations of the cross."
The Committee expected the mayor to give an opening statement and then JCP&L would give their presentation, followed by a question-and-answer period. A committee member said that it turned out to be a JCP&L public relations presentation, and the company made no effort to discuss the problems and possible solutions.
So, now the town will be holding its own public meeting, where residents and town leaders will make their own list of demands.  The town expects JCP&L will subsequently negotiate modifications to the plan that would lessen impact on residents.  Good luck, Montville, and remember, delay is your friend!  :-)

Will the utilities ever learn?  Their old routines no longer work on an increasingly educated and savvy public.  The "open house" is no longer effective in dividing and neutralizing potential opposition.  Heck, we use your stupid "open houses" as handy-dandy meet-n-greets to recruit new opposition.  It's cheaper and easier when you all do the mailings and media to get affected landowners to a centralized location where they can be recruited by opposition groups.

The only citizens who leave those meetings with a warm, fuzzy feeling are those who find out that their property is nowhere near the project.  The rest of them leave confused, shell-shocked... and angry.  And they form and join opposition groups that increase costs and delay projects, sometimes even causing the project to be abandoned.

The days of running over the public with stupid PR tricks in order to build overhead transmission
are over.  The public demands transparency, integrity and better solutions.

Time for a new schtick, FirstEnergy. 

It has been my pleasure to work with Dr. Luther Gerlach a couple of times over the past few years as he continues his studies of transmission line opposition groups.  Dr. Gerlach is professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Minnesota, and has been studying transmission opposition since the 1970s. 

In 2013, Luther updated his encyclopedia article, Public Reaction to Transmission Lines  (EEI has made the article publicly available for download here).  After it was published in 2014, the Edison Electric Institute invited him to present at their recent Utility Siting Workshop.  I again participated in discussions with Luther over several months as he put together his presentation for the workshop, Transmission Lines: Characteristics and Effects of Opposition.

Discussion with Luther has a way of making you think!  During the most recent discussions, Luther shared with me a film he narrated in the 1990s from footage he had acquired during the CU power line fight in Minnesota in the 1970s.  This battle was the subject of Paul Wellstone's book, Powerline: The First Battle of America's Energy War, which is sort of a transmission opposition primer.  A lot of us have read it to analyze what went wrong with their fight so we can improve on our own.  If you haven't read it yet, go get a copy!

I downloaded Luther's film, Grassroots Energy, and settled in to watched it by myself. 

Then I invited a fellow transmission opponent over to watch it with me a second time so we could discuss the similarities to our own fight.

Then, with Luther's permission, I shared it with a few other transmission opposition leaders across the country.

Now, I can share it here... Download and watch this film!  For even more fun, watch it with your transmission opposition buddies and plan a discussion afterwards.

Although it's been 40 years since the CU battle, I was struck by how much we're still reacting to new transmission proposals with the same emotions and actions that formed these opposition groups many years ago.  We still share information with others, and we still try to find better solutions. 

Now I'm going to go watch it again... while waiting for better solutions!
I've been away for the past week.  No emails, no blog posts, no piles of electronic files, no transmission whatsoever.  So, what has transmission being doing while I wasn't paying attention?  Same old, same old.


A browse of news I missed:

The Sierra Club is still trying to plan the transmission grid and getting it wrong.

PJM despot Steven Herling sent a nasty-gram to NJ Sierra Club's Jeff Tittel, claiming that he was spreading misinformation.

The chief planning official for PJM Interconnection Inc., the grid operator, said in a letter to New Jersey Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel that continued operations of the B.L. England power station in Cape May County would not create reliability problems, but that the plant's shutdown would.

"Recent media statements attributed to you about reliability and cost impacts associated with the B.L. England generating units' remaining in service are based on a misunderstanding of PJM Interconnection's planning process," Steven R. Herling, PJM's vice president of planning, wrote Thursday to Tittel.

"Our transmission-planning process is very complex, dynamic, and - as a consequence - can be misunderstood," Herling said in his letter to Tittel. "I would have been very happy to explain the process and underlying facts to help you avoid confusion, and would be willing to clarify PJM's study results at any time."

Transmission developers held their "public input" open house dog & pony shows on lines they want to build.  The "public" showed up en masse to participate, but the real decisions have already been made.  Here's one example from Wisconsin, where ATC plays coy about its preferred route, hoping to foment discord among community groups that wish to foist the transmission line on someone else.  The media helps out by framing its story as a NIMBY issue, and failing to examine the need issue.
“I have no doubt, in the long run, we need power and we need power transmission lines, and they’re going to go somewhere,” said Don McKay, general manager of Tyrol Basin Ski and Snowboard Area.

“Nothing here is very negotiable,” said McKay, who also is a Vermont town supervisor.

Robert and Danuta Pyzalski said it was too preliminary to get answers about their town of Middleton home, in the study area.

“My concern is how close the lines would be to residential areas,” Robert Pyzalski said. “To say there would be no danger would be naive.”
Dominion has begun blowing smoke up the behinds of communities in Virginia, pretending to pioneer new ways to work with communities to site transmission lines.
Members of a new resident-led work group created to grapple with Dominion Virginia Power’s plans to run a transmission line through Alexandria did not mince words following the utility’s first presentation on the project.

“I’m just looking at statements here with nothing to back them up.”

Both officials and work group members are growing more suspicious as Dominion’s application date creeps closer.

“There’s some healthy skepticism,” Smedberg said. “While Dominion says they don’t know what a final route would be, many people in the community find that a little hard to believe. They know exactly what they want to do and have known for a while.”
Use of the Delphi technique really isn't new, Dominion! 
Energy companies fight over building new transmission to import power to a big city vs. building new centralized generation in or near the city itself.  How about you folks in Houston cutting back on your conspicuous consumption and slapping some solar panels on a roof or two?  That would certainly be cheaper for the poor ratepayers these companies pretend to care about.  Energy efficiency and local renewables are within reach.

Same stuff, different day.  Energy company greed to invest capital for big returns never changes.  The only thing that has changed in this scenario is the opposition of the people to big energy projects.  It's getting more organized, more knowledgeable and more successful.  Try building big energy anything anywhere and there's guaranteed opposition that increases costs and delays projects.  Finding new ways to neutralize the NIMBYs is a losing game.

But, what if there were no NIMBYs?  Underwater and underground transmission lines are sailing through approvals with little to no opposition.  The Champlain Hudson Power Express project is a go, and the New England Clean Power Link isn't far behind.  If you're going to build new transmission, this is the way to do it.
With permits to build an underwater and underground power line from the Canadian border to New York City all but fully in hand, the developer is turning its attention to a similar proposal for a 1,000-megawatt power line that would run down Lake Champlain and then across Vermont to feed the New England electric grid.

Once out of the water all the cable will be laid in public rights of way and the company TDI New England has been working with the state of Vermont and local communities along the route on the minutiae: Everything from how to be sure the under-road conduits don’t worsen spring frost heaves to how the cables cross beneath bridges or how to ensure that once the cables are buried they aren’t disturbed.

Benson Selectboard member Sue Janssen said TDI New England has worked hard to meet the concerns of her community of just over 1,000. They are even paying a lawyer of the town’s choosing to represent the community in the detailed discussions that are coming.

“I have the impression if we’d said we wanted our dirt roads painted pink they’d have done it,” she said.

So far there has been no significant opposition to TDI New England’s major electrical infrastructure project such as has faced plans to build ridge-top industrial wind projects, extend a natural gas power line from the Burlington area to Rutland or build a 180-mile above-ground power line between the Canadian border and northern New Hampshire.

“I think that one of the key differentiators of other proposed projects is that we are all buried,” said TDI New England CEO Donald Jessome.
That's right... people can support transmission projects proposed by companies willing to work with communities to lessen a project's impact.

Opposition has a cost.

Meanwhile, as more buried projects are proposed, traditional overhead transmission builders are whining about the cost of buried lines.  Funny position for companies that make money on transmission investments -- the more they spend, the more they make.  Why not bury the projects?  Oh, right, they don't know how.  They're still living in the horse and buggy days, telling the same lies about how the technology doesn't exist to bury lines, or that the cost will be 10 or 20 times an overhead line.  That just isn't true.
Matt Valle’s solution to energy shortages in Eastern Massachusetts eschews the usual approach of running miles of new transmission lines on unsightly towers. Instead, Valle proposes to bury 50 miles of high-power cable in the ocean floor, using an underwater robot that resembles a lunar rover.

The robot would dig a trench 4 to 6 feet deep in an arc from Salisbury to Lynn for a power line that would bring 520 megawatts of electricity from the Seabrook generating station into Greater Boston.

If approved, the so-called SeaLink line would be the first underwater transmission line in Massachusetts, and Valle argued that it would be more reliable than high-voltage lines that are exposed to New England weather.

“It’s a buried system. It is protected against extreme weather — high winds, flooding, icing,” said Valle, president of New Hampshire Transmission, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy, one of the country’s largest power companies.

But there is one major drawback: With a price tag of more than $1 billion, SeaLink looks on paper to cost about $350 million more than a competing project, which includes a new 25-mile transmission line running from Londonderry, N.H., to Tewksbury, as well as upgrades to the existing high-voltage power network.

“Ours is the most cost-effective solution. That’s a fact,” said Rudy Wynter, president of the transmission business at National Grid, which is partnering with Northeast Utilities on the project. It would feature a combination of high-voltage 115 kV lines and extra-high-voltage 345 kV lines constructed on rights of way that are already held by the two companies.

Is it really all about the cost to ratepayers?  Anyone thought of asking ratepayers if it's worth a few extra cents in their power bill to bury high-tech transmission projects in order to make them more reliable?  I think the people would overwhelmingly support buried lines from a reliability standpoint alone.  A majority would also probably support more expensive buried lines in order to get lines built quicker and with less burden on host landowners, viewsheds and the environment. 
Americans for a Clean Energy Grid sounds like a grassroots uprising of ordinary "Americans" who support  building electric transmission.  This group's website says it:
supports policies that will modernize the nation’s electric power network and unlock clean energy and economic opportunities across the country. Smart state and federal policies that improve the way the grid is developed, planned, and paid for will help it become a more robust, reliable, and secure network that supports expansion of renewable energy, competitive power markets, energy efficiency, and lower costs for consumers. The backbone of a clean electricity system and a strong economy is a resilient and reliable transmission grid.
But the organization's true purpose is to support the policy goals of its environmental group funders for the profits of its transmission and generator developer members.

Ordinary Americans DO NOT Support Transmission, even if it's "clean!"
Remember this guy?
He knew there were children around somewhere because he could smell them.  It's easy to smell a front group, and this one has all the telltale signs.

Creating fake public support in order to influence someone to do something isn't anything new.  In Act I, Scene 2 of Julius Caesar, Cassius schemes up his own plan to make Brutus think the citizens of Rome love Caesar:
I will this night,
In several hands, in at his windows throw,
As if they came from several citizens,
Writings all tending to the great opinion       
That Rome holds of his name; wherein obscurely  
Caesar's ambition shall be glanced at:    
 And after this let Caesar seat him sure;    

 For we will shake him, or worse days endure.
It makes me as giddy as a Child Catcher to watch this silly front group struggle and fail under the weight of its own treachery.  Today, I got an "invitation" to this front group's "Electricity Transmission Summit."

Real business conferences are planned months in advance, speakers invited, attendance confirmed.  And then there's ACEG.  Their "agenda" for their October 16 "summit" is a laugh riot!

18 out of 25 speakers or moderators for this conference have yet to be invited or confirmed.  Only 7 people have confirmed their role at this "summit."  Just like the Child Catcher's wagon, the agenda looks good, until you look beyond the decorative fluff and notice all the names with (invited) after them.  I also like the multiple Moderators "Journalist/Reporter/Blogger" whose identity has yet to be determined.  October 16 is 3 weeks away and these clowns have yet to invite and confirm the vast majority of their speakers? 


And the pinnacle?  Even Farmer Jimmy Glotfelty isn't yet confirmed for their "summit"!

Thanks for the laughs, fellas!  As long as you know you're not really fooling anyone, no harm done, right?  ;-)

P.S. I'd fire the public relations company that screwed this up so badly.
Loren Sprouse, a Block Grain Belt Express-Missouri member and electrical engineer, went to the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) earlier this year with his concerns about the electric fields that would be created by Grain Belt Express, and their possible corrosive effect on nearby infrastructure. In response, MoDOT has compiled a research report of the most current studies available on the subject. The report, entitled "Effects of Ground Voltage of Stray Current on Infrastructure Caused by High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) Transmission Lines," cites numerous studies which indicate that DC lines may have a harmful impact on metallic infrastructure when operated in the monopolar mode, or under emergency conditions.

Although Grain Belt Express's website claims that its project will be a bipolar line, Sprouse is still concerned about the extremely high voltage of the line, and the electric fields and stray currents it may produce.

 "This is just another example of not fully understanding the potential long term negative consequences of this project. Our regulators need to enforce extremely high design standards when reviewing such projects around distances from homes, areas where people work around and under these lines, and especially around proximity to pipelines carrying natural gas and other petroleum products," Sprouse said.

The report indicates that monopolar HVDC transmission lines have an extremely corrosive effect on adjacent infrastructure, such as pipelines. Sprouse says that electric fields will always produce some stray currents, even in Grain Belt Express's bipolar HVDC model, or alternating current (AC) transmission lines.

The report confirmed Sprouse's worry, stating "The effect of stray current corrosion on underground infrastructure has been a concern for decades. As one example, a 1967 article warned about the "stray current corrosion of underground metallic structures" caused by HVDC transmission lines. In the literature, most studies are concerned about potential damage to pipeline structures." The report also quoted a 2008 GAO report that identified a risk "associated with siting HVDC electric transmission lines along active transportation ROW ... Stray current could interfere with railroad signaling systems and highway traffic operations, and accelerate pipeline corrosion, resulting in accidents."

Curt Jacobs from Erie, Illinois, echoed the concerns of Sprouse when commenting on a pipeline explosion that occurred last August adjacent to an AC transmission line near the proposed Rock Island Clean Line route.

"This pipeline explosion opened our eyes to the dangers of power lines close to pipelines. The suggestion that DC power can be even more corrosive than AC power raises significant safety questions for those of us that would be forced to live and work near Clean Line's proposed projects and the existing pipelines the routes attempt to parallel," he said.

Block GBE spokeswoman Jennifer Gatrel is worried that siting Grain Belt Express parallel to buried pipelines for approximately 119 miles across Missouri is too risky to the families who live and work close by. Approximately 53% of the GBE proposed route is sited within a mile of the pipeline corridor.

"We are very concerned about the implications of this report. Grain Belt wants to run their massive line close to pipelines through much of the state. The report makes it clear that there could be a real and present danger of doing so," she said. "As a mother to small children the idea that they could be put in danger is not acceptable!"
Some of Block GBE's major concerns, in addition to safety issues, are property rights, property devaluation, health effects, and the impediments to farming posed by the lines. Citizens interested in reading the report in full or learning more about the issue can find more information at or by calling 660-232-1280. The public will also have a chance to weigh in on the issue directly to the Missouri PSC who will decide whether to allow Grain Belt to build the lines. The schedule is located at the group's website here.