WOW!  “Nearly 600” show up for a meeting about transmission.  Good, Delmarva deserves that kind of response for their threat to ram the Mid-Atlantic Power Pathway transmission line through Maryland and Delaware to New Jersey.  They’re so desperate that they’re threatening “rolling blackouts:”

Delmarva Power spokesman Matt Likovich says the region could face rolling blackouts by 2011 unless the power transmission infrastructure is improved.

More transmission lies.  WDMT caught them making the same threats:

Delmarva Power Community and Communications Coordinator Matt Likovich said, “There have been projections that if we don’t do something to improve our infrastructure… we could be faced with rolling blackouts by the year 2011.”


Threatening rolling blackouts, saying that’ll happen by 2011, so we need to build this line by 2013… yeah… sure… whatever…  Get a grip, guys, we are not that stupid, we’re not buying your threats — it is SO naughty to do that.

Power lines would relieve congestion

By Andrew Ostroski
Staff Writer

MILLSBORO — Officials from Delmarva Power met with members of the public to discuss a power line project that will cut through the heart of Sussex County, as well as much of the Delmarva Peninsula.

An increase in energy usage on the Shore has prompted Delmarva Power to start the Mid-Atlantic Power Pathway project, 230 miles of interstate electric transmission line. More than 100 miles of the line are slated for Delaware, with 61 miles in Sussex County.

The lines would follow current right-of-ways, crossing the state line west of Delmar, and move northeast across the county through Gumboro and Millsboro to the Indian River Generating Station. Lines are also planned to go north through Milton and into Kent and New Castle counties before crossing the Delaware River to the Salem Nuclear Power Plant in New Jersey. Total cost for construction is estimated at $1.43 billion.

“During times of congestion, we have to call in power plants to provide energy,” said Matt Likovich, spokesman for Delmarva Power. “Those operators charge more for that energy because they know we need it. We could cut those power plants out.”

Nearly 600 people filled the auditorium at Cambridge-South Dorchester High School earlier this week to listen and comment on plans to string the high-voltage electrical transmission lines across Dorchester County from Taylor’s Island to Vienna.

Potential routes for the power lines in Dorchester were presented by Pepco Holdings Senior Vice President William Gausman.

“We have not made any decisions on this project; there is still a long way to go,” he said, presenting a map of the potential routes, including one which follows existing rights-of-way for a Choptank Electric transmission line and the railroad tracks from Bucktown to Linkwood.

He said three meetings are planned this month in Dorchester to review the proposed routes and seek public comment. The meetings are set for Feb. 19 in Taylor’s Island, Feb. 24 in Church Creek and Feb. 26 in Vienna.

“More than 80 percent will be on or along existing transmission lines,” Gausman said. The problem in Dorchester, he said, is that there are no existing high-voltage transmission lines.

Currently, Delmarva Power runs one transmission line. The company would like to build a second to provide an alternate route if one line experiences congestion or malfunction.

MAPP would be the first major high-voltage transmission project executed on the lower half of the Shore in 25 years. The 500 kilovolt line is also slated to cut some costs for consumers throughout the northeast. Vince Maione, MAPP project manager, said the reduced congestion will bring savings to users.

“We see a potential savings from congestion of about 70 or 80 cents per 1,000 kilowatt hours average per month,” he said.

Some residents have expressed concerns about building the 160-foot towers planned for current rights-of-way where power lines already exist. Doris Batdorf, a Long Neck resident, said she is afraid lines will affect her property.

“We just moved here in July, and now we have this coming,” she said. “I just don’t see the cost justifying the means.”

Maione also said the project would be funded by consumers, with an average of 40 cents added to electric bills.

“We have to plan for what the future’s going to bring,” he said. “The electric system has to be reliable. This circuit can bring enough power to serve the customers that are here today, and then plan for the future.”

Putting the screws to coal

February 4th, 2009


Here’s the Executive Order — let’s have one in every state:


Consideration of Feasible and Prudent Alternatives in the Processing of Air Permit Applications from Coal-Fired Power Plants

WHEREAS, Section 1 of Article V of the Michigan Constitution of 1963 vests the executive power of the State of Michigan in the Governor;

WHEREAS, under Section 8 of Article V of the Michigan Constitution of 1963, each principal department of state government is under the supervision of the Governor unless otherwise provided by the Constitution;

WHEREAS, under Section 8 of Article V of the Michigan Constitution of 1963, the Governor is responsible to take care that the laws be faithfully executed;

WHEREAS, under Section 52 of Article IV of the Michigan Constitution of 1963, the conservation and development of the natural resources of this state are matters of paramount public concern in the interest of the health, safety, and general welfare of the people;

WHEREAS, under Section 51 of Article IV of the Michigan Constitution of 1963, the public health and general welfare of the people of the state are matters of primary public concern;

WHEREAS, Part 17 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, MCL 324.1701 to 324.1706, provides in part that “[i]n administrative, licensing, or other proceedings, and in any judicial review of such a proceeding, the alleged pollution, impairment, or destruction of the air, water, or other natural resources, or the public trust in these resources, shall be determined, and conduct shall not be authorized or approved that has or is likely to have such an effect if there is a feasible and prudent alternative consistent with the reasonable requirements of the public health, safety, and welfare”;

WHEREAS, Part 17 of the National Resources and Environmental Protection Act is supplemental to existing administrative and regulatory procedures provided by law;

WHEREAS, under Part 55 of the National Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, MCL 324.5501 to 324.5542, and Executive Order 1995-18, MCL 324.99903, the Department of Environmental Quality has the authority to grant permits for the construction and operation of sources of air emissions under the federal Clean Air Act, 42 USC 7401 to 7671q;

WHEREAS, Section 5541 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, MCL 324.5541, provides that Part 55 of the Act “does not repeal any of the laws relating to air pollution which are not by this part expressly repealed.  This part is ancillary to and supplements the laws now in force, except as they may be in direct conflict with this part”;

WHEREAS, under Section 165(a)(2) of the federal Clean Air Act, 42 USC 7475(a)(2), the Department of Environmental Quality has the discretion to consider alternatives to proposed sources of air emissions when determining whether or not to grant an air permit to that source;

WHEREAS, coal-fired electricity generating plants annually emit thousands of tons of air emissions, including, but not limited to, greenhouse gases, that threaten the air, water, and other natural resources of Michigan and the health, safety, and general welfare of Michigan residents;

WHEREAS, circumstances have changed since the 21st Century Energy Plan, issued pursuant to Executive Directive 2006-2, projected that Michigan’s total electric generation requirements would grow at 1.3% annually until 2025, as evidenced by the Michigan Public Service Commission’s projection in its Winter 2008/2009 Energy Appraisal that electricity sales decreased 1.4% in Michigan in 2008;

WHEREAS, the enactment of the Clean, Renewable, and Efficient Energy Act, 2008 PA 295, MCL 460.1001 to 460.1195, has reduced the need for additional coal-fired electricity generating plants in Michigan by providing for the use of energy efficiency and renewable energy to meet future electricity needs in this state, reducing dependence on imported fossil fuels such as coal;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Jennifer M. Granholm, Governor of the State of Michigan, by virtue of the power and authority vested in the Governor by the Michigan Constitution of 1963 and Michigan law, direct:

A. Before issuing a permit to install under Part 55 of the National Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, MCL 324.5501 to 324.5542, for the construction of a new coal-fired electricity generating plant, the Department of Environmental Quality shall determine whether there is a feasible and prudent alternative consistent with the reasonable requirements of the public health, safety, and welfare that would better protect the air, water, and other natural resources of this state from pollution than the proposed coal-fired electricity generating plant.

B. Before making the determination required by Paragraph A, the Department shall first determine whether a reasonable electricity generation need exists in this state that would be served by the proposed coal-fired electricity generating plant.  If a reasonable electricity generation need exists in this state, the Department shall estimate the extent of the reasonable electricity generation need.

C. The Department shall next consider alternative methods of meeting the reasonable electricity generation need, including, but not limited to, each of the following:

1. Constructing new electricity generating resources that use technologies other than the burning of coal or that generate electricity from coal using technologies that reduce or sequester emissions.

2. Reducing electricity demand and peak demand through energy efficiency programs or load management techniques.

3. Generating or purchasing electricity from existing electricity generating resources.

D. If the Department determines that a feasible and prudent alternative to the construction of a new proposed coal-fired electricity generating plant exists consistent with the reasonable requirements of the public health, safety, and welfare that would better protect the air, water, and other natural resources of this state than the proposed coal-fired electricity generating plant, the Department shall not issue a permit to install.

E. The Michigan Public Service Commission shall provide technical assistance to the Department in making determinations required by this Directive.

F. All departments, committees, commissioners, or officers of the executive branch of this state shall give to the Department of Environmental Quality any necessary assistance required by the Department in the performance of the duties of this Directive, so far as is compatible with its, his, or her duties.  Free access shall also be given to any books, records, or documents in its, his, or her custody, relating to matters within the scope of inquiry, study, or review of the Department under this Directive.

This Directive is effective immediately.

Given under my hand this 3rd day of February in the year of our Lord, two thousand and nine.




Copyright © 2009 State of Michigan

Tonight is the final meeting in the group scheduled by Delmarva Power about the Mid-Atlantic Power Pathway, transmission through Delaware to New Jersey.

Wednesday, February 4 @ 6 p.m.

Millsboro Civic Center

322 Wilson Highway

Millsboro, Delaware

Sussex County:


Kent County:


New Castle County (cutout):


For more info on the underlying scheme, see my prior post:

PJM Transmission in Mid-Atlantic

Transmission lies

Against the so-called ‘need’ for new long-distance, high-voltage transmission lines

Posted by Guest author (Guest Contributor) at 10:31 AM on 03 Feb 2009


The following is a guest post from Carol A. Overland, a utility regulatory attorney and electrical consultant based in Minnesota and Delaware, representing clients in energy dockets including transmission projects, wind, gas and coal gasification generation, and nuclear waste.


Transition … transmission … transition … transmission …

That old Bowie hook is on my mind as I represent individuals, community organizations, and local governments opposing high-voltage transmission lines. Today we’re at a crossroads in energy, a transition point where the decisions we make, like electricity itself, are binary. What we choose will determine how we use electricity in the future. The first step is to carefully define “need.”

Transmission doesn’t produce electricity. It is passive infrastructure that just sits there, conducting energy from one place to another. At its worst, though, it’s an enabler of dysfunctional energy planning and profit-driven projects that are against the public interest. Claims that we “need” transmission are end-stage conclusions of a many-step planning process that we as a society have not yet consciously begun.

“Need” is a term of art, and the crucial task for energy planners is to define the need. We need energy when we flick the switch, and when we do, that’s a utility’s need for service of local electrical load. We also need renewable generation, and we have an equally compelling need to reduce the CO2 emissions, pollutants, and toxic waste of electrical generation (a need not readily recognized in energy planning). Energy planners plan for peak “flick of the switch” need, those few very hot summer days or very cold winter nights. How much “flick of the switch” energy do we need? It depends.

Prior to assessing local load-serving need and making demand projections — before “need” is considered — the first and unarguably least-cost step is conservation. We can easily make up for an annual projected increase in demand of 1.5 percent through conservation, and can probably cut today’s “need” by 10 percent or more, though compound conservation gets more difficult as we cherry pick the easy stuff. The next step before analyzing need is to enact energy efficiency, demand-side management, and load-shifting to cut the peaks and level out the dips. This is also a comparatively least-cost means of meeting demand.

When that’s done, and not before, it’s time to assess our need for electricity — the supply side. Utilities, which are in the business of selling electricity and building their infrastructure — for which we pay, routinely promote sales and exaggerate growth in demand. Because of their overstatements of need in similarly recessionary times, we overbuilt in the 1970s, to the extent that many proposed plants were ultimately canceled. Still so much was built that we haven’t needed much utility infrastructure since. We’ve been through this before, and should be mindful in making investments.

Because of the recent utility industry shift to market-based dispatch, whereby generation is no longer strictly for service of local load but for wider regional or national electricity markets, market expansion has become the driver for the utility “need” for transmission. This is the key difference: how much transmission utilities need to serve their local load (the public good) vs. how much they need to participate in markets (greater profits). North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), the private overseer of all things transmission, admits in Reliability Assessments that there is a lot of new electrical generation planned and that the transmission system is sufficient to meet local load-serving needs. The confounding factor: NERC notes that the transmission grid is constrained in places and is not sufficient for market purposes, for market expansion.

The short explanation of the shift to market focus is that, in theory, it makes generation available to all who want it, based on price rather than location. The cheapest is sold first, and buyers queue up in line. But the sale price is busbar price at the generator or seller, and does not take into account the costs of getting it from here to there — notably transmission construction, transmission service, and line loss. These costs are tacked on and billed to the purchasing utility, and will be added to the customer’s bill. The market “price” thus appears misleadingly low. Cheap coal-generated electricity from West Virginia looks awfully good to buyers in New Jersey when all the costs aren’t factored in to the sale price.

This is the crucial point: The divergence between traditional “local load-serving need” and the desire of utilities to beef up need claims, to build generation and transmission at ratepayer expense, in order play the market. State regulatory proceedings are couched in traditional “local load-serving need” terms, and utilities must prove up need before they are granted Certificates and proceed with construction. Investments must be “reasonable and prudent.” Opportunity to play the market is not reasonable and prudent, so it’s not a reason to build a transmission line — utility desire to increase market transactions is not recognized as “need” in a Certificate of Need or Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity proceeding. This is where transmission lines become transmission lies: Transmission projects for market trading are couched in terms recognized by regulators.

Planning for “peak load” is a transmission lie. Utilities have incentive to overstate “need” when they build for peaks. The higher the peak they build for (with peak occurring only several times annually), the deeper the off-peak valley and the more electricity they can sell on the market when generation is available but not “needed.” Conservation and peak-shaving is against their interest because it lowers peak and lessens the valley of market sales.

“We’ll have blackouts” and “we’re going to freeze in the dark” are transmission lies. A review of recent blackouts — the ones used to justify transmission projects — shows that they occurred during off-peak times where utilities were overloading the lines, pushing more electricity than the system could handle. Despite warnings that the system was at risk, operators did not cut back on loading. An industry report on one blackout during “light load condition and low cost Mid-Continent Area Power Pool (MAPP) generation,” while “there were high simultaneous exports,” concluded:

This event should not be filed away as just another close call. We need to recognize just how close we were to collapsing portions of the Eastern Interconnection and adjust operating guides and reporting practices to avoid recurrence. There are real limits to the transfer capability out of the MAPP region and those limits are interdependent. This event is an alarming representation of how the MAPP regional interconnected system is being operated at and even beyond its capabilities.1

Utility “forecasts” are a lie. Despite their propensity to overstate need, several utility CEOs recently admitted that use has decreased from 3-9 percent, and that future infrastructure projects should be reconsidered. If we’ve moved from 1.5-2 percent projected growth to 3-9 percent decrease — with no increase in sight — that 4.5-11 percent drop in forecasted demand will substantially alter projections for years to come. The longer that drop continues, the further out it will affect projections. Despite this change in use and extension of “need” out in time, utilities are holding on to outdated projections. They still want to build infrastructure based on inflated “need,” infrastructure that we will pay for — and pay them a percentage return on investment. If approved, utilities will cover costs and make a return whether it is needed or not.

“It’s for renewable generation” is a lie. The massive transmission infrastructure expansion proposed is not “for renewables” because transmission may not discriminate by generation type. Federal regulations prohibit discrimination among generators — it’s first come, first ready, first served. There are tens of thousands of megawatts of coal projects, with transmission studies complete or in progress, waiting for interconnection, and whatever generation is ready will be connected. Another side of this lie is when wind advocates support transmission, claiming “it’s for renewables,” and ignore the impacts of transmission on the communities it traverses. Rather than make this convoluted “it’s for renewables” claim, there’s a better way: if renewable energy mandates were directly linked with shut down of fossil generation, and if renewable generators were thoughtfully sited, both the electricity market and transmission infrastructure would be open and available.

“Long distance transmission” is a lie. Transmission is inherently inefficient over long distances. Transmission physics entails high levels of line loss, and the longer the line, the higher the line loss. To avoid this fact of physics, the electric industry has shifted its line loss analysis for new projects to a “system wide” loss, so the numbers look low. But consider actual numbers of megawatts of line loss, and look at “coal plant equivalents” to make up that loss — for every 500-600 MW of line loss, a coal plant or more would have to be built! Line losses are charged in Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rates, but this is not considered directly in the market transactions. Line loss is an afterthought add-on to the customer’s bill after transmission service is provided. Consider too the capital cost of transmission, starting at about $1.5 million per mile for 345kV lines and upward from there.

Utilities’ frame of “need” for “public purpose” is a lie. Most transmission regions of the country are now planning transmission expansion to make their markets workable — to be able, theoretically, to ship power across the country. For example, in the Midwest, it’s the Midwest Transmission Expansion Plan. In PJM on the east coast, it’s the Regional Transmission Expansion Plan. These plans are all market-based, but for those transmission projects in states that regulate transmission, they’ll couch “need” in terms recognized by the state to get the approvals they need.

For example, CapX 2020 in the Midwest is framed for Minnesota regulators as needed for “local load-serving,” “regional reliability,” and “generation interconnection” — despite being an obvious expansion for coal through Minnesota to points east. The Mid-Atlantic Power Pathway is framed as necessary to serve local load in the Delmarva peninsula, despite being an obvious pass-through from West Virginia coal to New Jersey, connecting major power plants for export to the Northeast. Utility framing of this market-based, profit-based purpose as public purpose “need” also serves as their basis for taking land through eminent domain, because a corporation’s private purpose is expressly prohibited as justification for a taking.

Will we fall for transmission lies? Is new transmission a public purpose, a public need, provision of an essential service for a utility’s service area? Or is it an industry grab for market opportunities and profits at the public’s expense?

In my years of practice, I’ve yet to see a transmission line actually meant for the “need” proposed. We must take a critical look at these projects’ claims, because we’re the ones who will pay, and the lines will go over our land. Odds are, it’s private-purpose infrastructure that commits us to 50 or more years of wrongheaded, inefficient, and polluting central-station generation.

Electricity is binary, as is our situation now — we’re at a point where we must choose our path.

(Special thanks to electrical engineers Art Hughes, David Blecker, and Rick Gonzalez for making me learn about losses, planning, need, and powerflows.)


1 Nebraska Public Power District, Report on June 10-11, 1997 Disturbance. See also Northern MAPP/Northwestern Ontario Disturbance — June 25, 1998 — Final Report; NERC Investigation of August 14, 2003 blackout.


Horses Ass Award for South Dakota’s Senator John Thune.


Has he no shame?   Sen.  John Thune fired off this letter to the EPA when it filed objections to the Big Stone II air permit.  Whatever is he thinking?  That the regulations don’t apply to his pet project, despite the obvious emissions problems?

Here’s the letter:

The Honorable Lisa Perez Jackson
Environmental Protection Agency
Ariel Rios Federal Building
January 28, 2009
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, Room 3000
Washington, DC 20460
Dear Administrator Jackson:

It has recently come to my attention that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued some objections regarding the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) desire to renew the operating permit for the existing Big Stone Power Plant in South Dakota. As a strong proponent of expanding our commitment to addressing our nation’s energy challenges, I am writing to inquire about your Agency’s recent action, as well as how this objection impacts the Big Stone II project.

As you know, the United States is the world’s largest electricity consumer and is expected to remain that way for decades to come. In the Upper Midwest, experts predict several thousand megawatts of generation capacity are needed to meet our region’s growing energy demands. In responding to this challenge, five electric utilities have proposed building a 500-580-megawatt, coal-fired electric generation plant. The new facility would be built next to the existing 450-megawatt Big Stone Power Plant, located near Big Stone City, South Dakota. Four of these partners (Otter Tail Power Company, Heartland Consumers Power District, Montana-Dakota Utilities Company and Missouri River Energy Services) provide electricity to thousands of my constituents throughout South Dakota, and more than one million people when you total their services to individuals and businesses in four other states.

While the addition of Big Stone II will more than double the plant’s generation capacity, it will also utilize new technologies so that emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury from the two plants will be cleaner than the current, single plant. Big Stone II is also expected to emit 20 percent less carbon dioxide than existing coal-fired power plants in the region. Since President Obama indicated his readiness to “invest in low emissions coal plants” within his New Energy for America plan, I trust the Administration will support the efforts of these dedicated individuals who have committed their work, time and money on this project to ensure the region will have safe, reliable and affordable energy in the future.

This project is also crucial to our region’s increased commitment to wind energy development. As a United States Senator, I have endeavored to promote the advancement of wind energy in order to grow South Dakota’s economy and help meet our nation’s growing energy demands. One significant impediment to increasing wind energy production is the lack of transmission lines available to transfer this harnessed product to markets in need. Transmission upgrades that coincide with the construction of Big Stone II will also provide opportunities for the expansion of renewable wind energy in the region.

While I appreciate that permitting procedures under the Clean Air Act can be very complex, I understand that the South Dakota DENR has 90 days to submit a revised permit that meets the objections raised by your Agency. I am confident that the participating utilities and DENR will provide sufficient adjustments to the permit so the project is completed in an environmentally responsible manner that provides the electrical power essential to the region. Despite the claims by some advocacy groups, I sincerely hope the last-minute list of objections by EPA is not an attempt to derail this important and needed project.

I believe there is great potential in this undertaking by the five participating utilities. I look forward to hearing about your Agency’s role in moving this project forward, as it is essential to promoting economic growth and meeting the region’s energy demands, including expanded wind generation.

Kindest regards,

John Thune
United States Senator