Thursday, October 29, 2015

Jimmy Glotfelty, Snowball, and Pete Domenici

Every now and then something is written and sometime later the author author looks like an oracle.  The author probably asks themselves the question “Did I write that?” as the relevance at the time of writing was small and weak, but after aging a bit, the relevance increases dramatically.   This is the beauty of writing commentary on the internet.  Comments, statements, opinions are saved on the internet and allowed to age and mature.  

Some guy named “SNOWBALL” wrote this blog over 8 years ago.  It probably went unnoticed at the time with few readers who yawned and said “WHATEVER”.  Today this little blog speaks volumes.  Snowball deserves an honorable mention somewhere for this blog.   Maybe no one else sees the relevance of the blog, but WOW!  He called it correctly.

Who was Snowball? Not a clue.  The name is an obvious Orwellian reference to Animal Farm.  It’s probably a popular internet name.  That’s probably the beauty of the name.  It’s more untraceable.

Why did he choose to make commentary out of Jimmy Glotfelty’s testimony before Congress?  With hours of testimony before the Senate Energy Committee, Snowball chose to comment on one little softball question asked by Senator Pete Domenici to Jimmy Glotfelty. 

It was a question the Senator asked out of left field.  It had nothing to do with the subject of the 2003 Blackout, but was evident the Senator or s someone Senator’s campaign wanted the statement made at a Senate Committee hearing.

If any professional reporters in the media wrote about Jimmy’s testimony before the Senate committee, they surely wrote about the 2003 blackout.  This small question and comment went unnoticed by the pros, but not old Snowball.  He wrote his commentary on the internet.  8 years later in 2012, Snowball’s commentary looks like he had incredible insight into the world around him.
Who is Snowball?  Was he an expert on national energy policy?  Snowball is probably just a guy.  Maybe he is just the equivalent to a farmboy from Arkansas.  He’s probably not a genius or expert on the energy industry, but for a brief moment in February of 2004 he was a bit of a visionary and saw the road this nation was headed impulsive reactions to the energy situation of the first days of the 21 century.
Thank you Snowball.
Thank you.  Here’s SNOWBALL’S blog from over 10 years ago.


After the blackout of the summer of '03, Mr. Bush used the crisis as an opportunity to end public control over electricity and utility companies - "by repealing the Public Utility Holding Company Act (PUHCA) and providing increased rates of return on new transmission investments."

In the next several weeks, the Bush-Cheney energy bill will come to the floor of the Senate for a vote, which Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn) says will pass easily.

The Bush-Cheney energy bill includes a provision that would repeal the Public Utility Holding Company Act.

In 1935, Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote "A Recommendation for the Regulation of Public Utility Holding Companies" to members of Congress, in which he warned, "Through the device of these pyramided holding companies, small groups of men with a disproportionately small investment were able to dominate and to manage solely in their own interest tremendous capital investments of other people's money."

The major networks and cable news shows have been largely silent on the energy bill; perhaps they've been too busy informing the American public of the latest in the Martha Stewart trial or the trouble in Haiti. If they do report on it, they say that the energy bill's been delayed "over a partisan debate on MTBE", a gasoline additive widely believed to be toxic and environmentally hazardous.

Earlier this week on Feb. 24, power groups were in Washington, DC attacking PUHCA in hearings on the reliability of the electric grid.

Jimmy Glotfelty, director of the Office of Electric Transmission and Distribution in the Department of Energy said, "I just spent two days meeting with investment bankers ... and time and time again we heard that repeal of PUHCA was necessary for more investment."
Phillip G. Harris, president and chief executive of PJM Interconnection, and James P. Torgerson, president and chief executive of Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator Inc., told Energy Chairman Pete Domenici, R-N.M.that eliminating PUHCA "would boost industry investment".

In 1938, Roosevelt was writing to Congress again about the corporate abuses of power and said, "The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism... ownership of government by an individual, for a group, or any controlling private power."

Jimmy Glotfelty - Roosevelt Republican or FDR Private Socialist

Jimmy Glotfelty at Clean Line Energy used to claims to be a “Roosevelt Republican”.  This is obviously a reference to Theodore Roosevelt as a capitalist who was also environmentally engaged.   A more interesting comparison would be from considering Franklin D.  Roosevelt would call Jimmy Glotfelty something less flattering.  FDR fought hard to pass the Public Utilities Holding Act (PUHCA).  In the public utility sector, President Roosevelt saw a sharp rise the abuses of Holding companies, or rather a company with limited liability that owns a company with less liability that owns a company with further less liability….and so on and so on.
During the George W. Bush administration, Mr. Glotfelty lobbied heavily for the recall of federal oversight of utility companies.  In February 2004 Jimmy Glotfelty testified before the Senate Energy Committee on the 2003 Blackout.  Jimmy 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."

Jimmy …with the Department of Energy….meeting with New York City capital/speculation investments…back in 2004.   We all can’t help but wonder who Jimmy was meeting with back then in New York City.  Ziff?  David Och?  

After aggressively lobbying Congress to abolish PUHCA, four months later, Mr. Glotfelty abruptly resigned from his position at the Department of Energy.  He went to work for an energy consulting company in Houston, Texas with IFC.  Sometime later, he quietly moved three blocks down the street to Clean Line Energy, the venture capital company that would not exist BUT FOR Jimmy’s lobbying effort to Congress.  (It’s too bad the Cheney Energy Task Force notes were never made public.) 
PUHCA was created during the Franklin Roosevelt administration to protect the public from venture capital companies like Clean Line Energy from manipulating the energy markets.  Without PUHCA, the SEC does not watch over venture capital companies like Clean Line Energy who work in multiply states.  Regulated utilities and energy because the playground of speculation and price manipulations without the protection of little and obscure PUCHA.  Without this regulation, Rock Island Clean Line, who is owned by Rock Island Wind, who is owned by Clean Line Energy, who is owned by who is owned by Michael Zilhka, Clean Line Investments, and Clean Line Investors, who is owned by ZAM Ventures, who is owned by ZBI Ventures, who is owned by Ziff Brothers Investments, who is owned by the actual Ziff Brothers.  Without PUCHA one simple speculation company is divided into 14 LLC’s.   

The number of companies involved in the ownership Clean Line Energy Partner’s project are beyond belief.  Clean Line Energy still does not 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.  This is exactly the kind of company President Franklin Roosevelt called evil and a private socialist.   Clean Line doesn’t even have the funding to make it through 2016 and procure the right of way easements for 3 of their 5 projects.  Clean Line doesn’t even have a financial line of credit to buy the easements, but the Department of Energy sees this company as a bonafide public utility. 

Even Ken Lay of the former ENRON would be proud of the number shell companies created in this one simple Clean Line Energy Partners!

Plains & Eastern Clean Line desires to be classified by the federal government as a “public utility” to obtain the power eminent domain to take the property of individuals in order to give it a select few billionaires (Michael Zilhka and the three Ziff Brothers) and National Grid ( a British corporation).  This is indeed what FDR referred to as private socialism.  Perhaps the modern term is crony-capitalism where the private property of man is taken and given to politically connected.

Perhaps President Franklin Roosevelt said it best in his letter to Congress recommend regulating 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 Plains & Eastern Clean Line llc is a HVDC powerline, there is only one start and one finish.  Between the start and finish, the market access is limited with potential to influence the price of energy through this powerline.   Those at Clean Line Energy would likely say these is no relationship between Jimmy Glotfelty’s successfully lobbying Congress to repeal PUHCA and Jayshree Desai petitioning the Department of Energy to take regulating powers away from states Public Utility Boards, and Commerce Commissions. 

Clean Line Energy would also likely claim it is just a coincidence Jimmy Glotfelty’s resume ends at an and energy industry venture capital company after he lobbied Congress to end PUHCA, yet the relationship Clean Line Energy Partners LLC (CLEP) has to the former Enron business model is more than a coincidence.

The CLEP model is strictly profit oriented as they intend to sell the company’s llc’s once the easements are secured.  The problem arises when current energy regulations were written for the more traditional electricity producers and actual utility company.  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.  Hypothetical Merchant Transmission business models, such as CLEP,  did not exist in the past.

Our existing laws and regulations were both designed for this traditional utility company model.  It is only through a slow and steady process of deregulations that we now have the potential for such companies as Clean Line Energy.
Clean Line Energy and its RICL project recognizes this opportunity to take advantage of deregulation and argue the current rules do not apply to them as a privately held venture capital merchant transmission line.  Unfortunately, this opportunity for Clean Line Energy comes at the expense of the Illinois public and landowners. 

Is Jimmy Glotfelty a “Roosevelt Republican”?  No.  He is a private socialist!  Then again, maybe Jimmy is just eager to get in bed with anyone tramping around.   Looks like the newest investor in Clean Line sees it a means to put natural gas on Plains & Eastern Clean Line.

And more regulation and oversight is needed with companies like Clean Line around!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Where's Hans Detweiler?

Hey, what’s Hans Detweiler up to lately?  We used to play a “Where’s  Waldo” game with Mark Lawton because he …well he looks like Waldo with those beady eyes and wire glasses.  Instead of Waldo, the game is about to change to “Where’s Hans-do”.    Rumor is Hans Detweiler is working over Washington D.C. as a lobbyist for Clean Line.  Why?  Seriously, what is he hoping to accomplish?  There are five hypothetical theories with Han’s special purpose in Washington. 

11.        Hans is lobbying the Department of Energy for approval on Plains & Eastern Clean Line with federal eminent domain under Section 1222 of the 2005 Energy Policy Act is one hypothetical.  Maybe Clean Line Energy sees this as their last hope for a project approval.  Clean Line NEEDS eminent domain approval for at a minimum one project.  Arkansas, Missouri, and Illinois have made a traditional approval impossible for the Rock Island Clean Line, Grain Belt Express, or the Plains & Eastern Clean Line.  The only hope for Clean Line is Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to give approval for Plains & Eastern.

22.        A second theory is Hans Detweiler is hypothetically lobby the US Senate for federal eminent domain.  This is even more of a long shot.  A bill has to get through the Senate Energy Committee, pass the Senate, go to the House for approval and get signed by the President as we approach an election year.  Hypothetically, even if a bill becomes law, Clean Line would have to compete with other companies for approval. 

33.       Perhaps Hans Detwieler is lobbying to be first in line if the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.  I could imagine Hans is trying to sell somebody on 500 to 750 mile long extension cords as the only legitimate option to the EPA’s proposed energy policy.  Hypothetically, even if wind energy wheeled from the Midwest to eastern states were to be a real option, there would be competition for least cost approval.  Claiming dibs on being first in line is going to be meaningless.

44.       Maybe Hans Detweiler is lobbying in Washington to prevent the APPROVAL ACT proposed by Arkansas Senator Boozman and Senator Tom Cotton.  The APPROVAL ACT would nullify any potential federal eminent domain from Section 1222 and return all authority to the states.   Section 1222 is clearly a poorly written law allowing the executive branch play favoritism. 

55.       There is one other option.  Hans Detweiler could see the Clean Line Energy Partners LLC is a sinking ship.  Hans is conceivably lobbying for himself and looking for another job.  This option makes a lot of sense.  When one considers the odds of Clean Line’s failure from lobbying, the best option for Hans Detweiler Is most likely to take advantage of potential uncertainty from the Clean Power Plan and work over Washington for the next job as Clean Line funding dwindles. 

Yes, it will be interesting when Hans pokes his head out of the ground next.  My guess it will be with a logo on another company’s shirt. If Clean Line hopes to succeed on any of these potential lobbying efforts, I have one simple suggestion.  


The faster Clean Line Energy blows through the money, the faster we all can get on with our lives.