Thursday, September 28, 2017

Who wants some (MORE) Clean Line whine?

If you hadn't noticed, Clean Line is having a pretty rough go of it these days. I thought I would provide a little update, because I wouldn't want anyone who is interested (*coughINVESTORScough*) to miss out on anything important.

1) Clean Line denied a third time in Missouri:

As many of you probably already know, on August 16, Clean Line was denied for a third time in its bid to become classified a "public utility" (with the added benefit of eminent domain) in Missouri. We wrote about that here so I won't go into much detail, but it definitely put a wrinkle in their plan.

2) Tennessee Valley Authority says "thanks, but no thanks" to Clean Line:

This one speaks for itself.
The cost of meeting TVA's power demand also involves more than just the marginal costs of what intermittent power producers such as wind and solar generators can quote for TVA, Johnson said. 
Clean Line Energy Partners, a Houston-based company that proposes to bring wind-generated power from Oklahoma and Texas to the Southeast along a $2.5 billion transmission line, says it could deliver power to TVA at less than 2 cents per kilowatt-hour. 
TVA signed a memorandum of understanding with Clean Line Energy in 2011 to study the proposal. But the utility has yet to commit to buying any of the 3,500 megawatts of wind-generated power Clean Line Energy will bring to the western edge of TVA's territory along its 720-mile transmission line from near Diamond, Okla. 
TVA said it doesn't need more power generation because of the stagnant demand for electricity in its seven-state region, and Johnson said TVA still would have to maintain or build other generation capacity to make up for the Clean Line energy when the wind doesn't blow.  
Johnson said "it is hard for us to fit that [Clean Line Power generation] in our portfolio," but he said "we are evaluating it closely." 
"Wind comes at night between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. when demand dips, so for us to take that we have to turn down nuclear plants, which essentially have no fuel costs, and we really don't want to do that," Johnson said. 
The production tax credits that would help keep Clean Line Energy rates lower are declining and will phase out completely for new wind turbines built after 2020, "so we shouldn't be delaying a decision on this great opportunity," Smith said. 
But Johnson said production tax credits "are really not our issue" and TVA must evaluate the price options for wind, solar and other intermittent sources of power based upon the full costs to the agency. 
"The price [from Clean Line Power], in and of itself, is a good price for wind," Johnson said. "But it actually costs us a lot more to import it and to make sure we have gas plants running or capable of running in case the wind doesn't show up." 
Johnson estimates having the additional capacity to make up for when the wind doesn't blow or the sun doesn't shine typically adds at least 2 cents per kilowatt-hour to the quoted price of such renewable energy. 
"At the moment, we have yet to conclude that [buying power from Clean Line Energy] is the right fit for what we are doing," he said.
3) Clean Line denied rehearing at the Missouri Public Service Commission:

This one is pretty simple. Clean Line requested a rehearing after their denial at the MOPSC. This was more out of procedure for Clean Line so (after denial of the rehearing) they could move on to the appeals process. Which is next on the list...

4) Clean Line appeals Missouri PSC decision and hired big, scary (but voted out), ex-governor Jay Nixon to represent them:

I would think an ex-governor would be fairly expensive, but since Clean Line seems to think money can buy their way through anything, they went ahead and hired former Missouri Governor Jay Nixon as their legal counsel for their appeal. I guess they thought having a flashy ex-governor as their legal counsel might in some way sway the opinion of the court. Good luck with that strategy, guys.

It sort of seems like Clean Line has too many fires and not enough firemen to put them out, doesn't it? It's almost like they start trying to implement one PR strategy and then, within days, another fire gets lit that upends arguments they've made previously. We'll see if they continue to attempt to mislead everyone in the various states they're operating in, or if they will begin acknowledging the situation they currently find themselves in. A good example would be:

5) Clean Line acquires "legal hangnail" (Read: Legal Death Knell) in Illinois for its' proposed "Rock Island" project:
Just a few days after Clean Line hired former Governor Nixon and attempted to convince the media and everyone else that Missouri is the only state holding up the process and that they should just get out of the way, the Illinois Supreme Court handed them a decision that could represent a death knell for both their Rock Island and Grain Belt projects in Illinois.

Quite a while back, the Illinois Landowner Alliance filed an appeal with the Third District Court of Appeals contending that the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) erred in granting Rock Island public utility status. Later, that court determined that the ICC had, in fact, erred, and the order granting them utility status was reversed. Clean Line didn't like this, of course, so they appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court. The Illinois Supreme Court took the case and handed down a unanimous opinion reaffirming the lower court's opinion that Clean Line does NOT meet the definition of a public utility in that state.

How does this potentially apply to Clean Line's proposed "Grain Belt Express" line in Illinois? Well, the Concerned Citizens and Property Owners group (composed of landowners and citizens opposed to Grain Belt Express) appealed the ICC's order granting Clean Line a CCN for that project at the Fifth District Court of Appeals in Illinois. While that case is still pending, and the arguments are slightly different, it seems like a near certainty that the Fifth District will also state that the ICC erred in granting Grain Belt Express a CCN for that project.

A decision in that case is expected any time, so watch that one closely. So much for a "legal hangnail." As a good friend of mine stated to me: "Clean Line should be given props for being able to find a silver lining in literally anything."

6) On Monday, the Arkansas congressional delegation met with Secretary Perry about its' concerns with the proposed "Plains and Eastern" project:

Early this week, our full Arkansas congressional delegation went to the Department of Energy (DOE) to meet with Secretary Rick Perry about their concerns regarding the department's participation in Clean Line's proposed "Plains & Eastern" HVDC line. More here, as well.

Now, as anyone who has been paying attention to this issue for the last few years is aware, Clean Line was denied utility status at the state PSC way back in 2011. They saw an opening at the federal level with Section 1222 of the Energy Policy Act and they took it.

Over the past few years, there has been plenty of analysis and speculation about why and how a Request for Proposals (RFP) was issued by the DOE with such perfect timing as it applies to Clean Line's project. However, even assuming everything was on the up and up and the sudden "need" for a merchant transmission line was kismet (Ali's word, lol) or simple serendipity, there are issues with the statute and its application to this proposed project.

There are only so many ways you can beat a dead horse, but the process (or lack thereof) as it pertains to Section 1222 has been painfully insufficient and has, quite frankly, sucked. It is nice to see that the desire exists within Secretary Perry's office to revisit that process. Thank you! We stand ready to assist you in providing our experience with it.

7) Cherokee Nation Council rejects resolution to grant Clean Line easement in Oklahoma.

Wow, this is a MUST watch. It sounds like someone sent out a memo that had some pretty threatening language toward the Cherokee Council in it, doesn't it? Classy stuff, guys. It's pretty sickening, if you ask me.

That's all we've got for now! Hope you enjoy. :)

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