The Tennessee Valley Authority's Board holds periodic public "listening" sessions, where folks can sign up to say any old thing, as long as it fits into a three minute time slot. I've watched these before, and the most fun part is guessing what speakers in the queue might talk about based on the bottom half of their outfits and any props they have in their hands. The same parade of environmental group representatives come back again and again, saying basically the same thing. This appears to go on for hours. The Board sits stoically, stone-faced and unresponsive, perhaps playing the same mental guessing game I do. Wow, what a great party! Or maybe just a colossal waste of time. Certainly nothing newsworthy, since none of these comments are ever acted upon, it's all just so much posturing.
I guess the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy wanted to spice up its continual posturing last month when its Director told the Board that taking private property through eminent domain to build a $3B electric transmission "clean line" would eradicate the threat of the Zika virus. No, really.
The United States issued the first domestic infectious disease travel advisory since the 1950’s earlier this month for Florida over the spread of Zika virus. This is an historic advisory. (The FDA is now expanding the testing of blood for Zika in the United States.) SACE has a pregnant staff member in south Florida who is now effectively in a state of house arrest because of this vector borne tropical disease outbreak.
The only thing historic about this is the amount of private investor cash that's been dumped into a company that will never realize one dime of revenue. Or perhaps federal government overreach to effect private property takings outside its statutory authority. Or both.
And then Dr. Doomsayer let the TVA Board know how economic a "clean" line would be with a bunch of armchair energy planning "analysis." Such as:
The low cost wind coupled with the concurrent transmission revenue that TVA will likely receive for wheeling the wind power to other recipients makes the deal more competitive for TVA consumers, even if your demand is low, by displacing higher cost fossil fuels.
We believe Clean Line is “in the money” or very close.
Jimmy Glotfelty, executive vice president for Clean Line Energy Partners, told the TVA board last week that it could deliver wind-generated power from Oklahoma and Texas up to 60 percent of the time at around 3 to 3.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, which is cheaper than some of TVA's other energy costs. Such wind-generated power could be available in two to three years after new wind turbines are erected in Oklahoma and Texas, where the wind blows more steadily than in the Southeast, and after Clean Line builds its proposed 700-mile line from the panhandle of Texas to Memphis.
The cost will be cheaper this year because the maximum federal production tax credits, worth the equivalent of 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour, will begin to decrease after Jan. 1.
And who does Jimmy think pays for all those delicious federal tax credits that would make energy so cheap for TVA? The taxpayers. So while Jimmy is telling TVA it would get a 2.2 cent break on every kWh if it signs up for transmission capacity before the end of the year, the energy consumers in TVA would also have a part in paying for that tax credit! Maybe Jimmy really believes the federal wind production tax credit is free money that falls from the sky? Except the tax credit isn't available to transmission companies, only generators. Where are the generators for TVA to ink a deal with, if it was even possible to do so by December 31? Jimmy sounds like a carnie, urging his mark to put their money down and spin the wheel at a shady joint.
And why is Jimmy continuing to beat this dead horse anyhow? It's not going to get up and pull his wagon.
TVA President Bill Johnson said no decision has yet been made about Clean Line or any other proposal. He said TVA could move ahead "if it makes sense under our timetable, not someone else's timetable.
"We've been in long-range discussions with them (Clean Line Energy) under several memoranda of understanding," Johnson said. "Our objective here is quite simple: to have the least cost, cleanest, most reliable system all at the same time. If it turns out that Clean Line is a part of that, then we will do that. But we are still in the evaluation phase."
"We continue to to have strong discussion with utilities in the Southeast and we continue to have productive talks with TVA because we believe this is a very competitive source of clean energy which we think would add value to their portfolio," Glotfelty said.
Where are the customers, Jimmy? Having trouble "selling" a hypothetical transmission line fed by hypothetical generators with a hypothetical "approval" to utilities who expect the resources they contract for will be available when needed?
Chicken. Egg. Chicken? Where have all Clean Line's chickens gone?