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.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

What keeps Jimmy Glotfelty Awake at Night

I wonder what keeps Jimmy Glotfelty awake at night.

I bet it’s the President’s Clean Power Plan.  I bet he’s thinking about how he can exploit the Clean Power Plan for personal satisfaction.  Unfortunately, the Clean Power Plan puts Jimmy and Clean Line Energy Partners in a bit of a pickle. 

Clean Line can support the Clean Power Plan in trade publication's love fests with friendly press.  CLEP can say how Iowa needs the Rock Island Clean Line to help Illinois and Indiana meet their carbon emissions goals.  Clean Line lobbyists can talk about how wind energy demand will increase and their option is the only option to meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s goals.  Basically, Clean Line will likely keep spewing the same come-on lines but add “Clean Power Plan” in their shtick. 

What probably puts Jimmy at Clean Line in a tight place is transmission becoming a legitimate option.  Suppose Kentucky wants a lot more wind energy.  Suppose the Grain Belt Express can supply a big chunk of it.  (All hypothetically here.)   How do we know the Grain Belt Express is the best and most economical option? 

Jimmy’s Conundrum is Clean Line cannot refer to the EPA’s Clean Power Plan at the Illinois Commerce Commission.  Jimmy's fear has to be those opposing GBE can probe CLEP about GBE's lack of Regional Transmission Organization recommendation for the Clean Power Plan.   Opposition will make arguments the state should wait for the RTO’s to study the issue and determine the best option to meet the requirements of the Clean Power Plan. 

If transmission is needed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, Illinois should wait for lawsuits to be determined and allow the states to come up with a plan before approving the Grain Belt Express or any other interstate transmission projects.  Under the circumstances, the Illinois Commerce Commission should pull out of the Grain Belt Express approval process and wait for all the neighboring states to determine the best solution.  Just because the Grain Belt Express is the first girl at the ball doesn’t mean the Illinois Commerce Commission should take her home to meet the wife.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Clean Line llc and the Wild Party

Is anyone else having a hard time wrapping their heads around  the amount of money Clean Line Energy Partners llc has squandered?

Let's start with National Grid's $40 million.   That bought to British corporation a 40% interest in the company.    One can surmise the Ziff Brothers investment,  Michael Zilkha and Clean Line upper management has supplied the remainder $60 million for a 60% interest in the company.   So there's $100 million dollars.  Some time in the last half of last year,  it was estimated Clean Line would need another infusion of money.   National Grid had to throw a few million more in the pot. It is unknown if the Ziff's also put more in the pot.  

Now we have Bluescape Resources willing to another $50 million and receive 2 board members.   

My guess we are looking at closer to $200 million dollars. What does Clean Line have to show for that?

Kansas gave a contingent approval for the Grain Belt Express llc (providing Missouri and Illinois approve it also).

Missouri has denied GBE llc.

Arkansas has denied the Plains & Eastern llc.

Illinois has denied eminent domain for the Rock Island Clean Line.

Illinois Commerce Commission is reviewing the GBE application.

There is no demand for any of the company's llc's.   In the economic sense,  there is no value added.

The Tennessee Valley Authority does not wind energy from the Plains & Eastern Clean Line llc.

With no demand for the P&ECL llc,  federal eminent domain from Section 1222 is in doubt.

What has Clean Line accomplished?  They have probably spent at least $125 million,  and perhaps above $150 million.

Zilkha's biomass pellet plant in Alabama probably doesn't even cost that much. At least Michael Zilkha has a physical plant,  property, and equipment to show for his investment.  

When this is all over and Clean Line Energy Partners llc is gone and history,  there will likely be some wild stories told.    Can anyone spend $150 million with  nothing to show for the accomplishment without parties,  booze,  and possibly a little cocain ?

Just speculating here and not accusing anyone,  but how does one piss away $150 million without  wild trade organization parties?

We're there Christmas parties at the Four Seasons to promote team building?

How about the utility commission hearing in Springfield, Illinois or Jefferson City,  Missouri  when a big chunk of team CLEP came together?

I almost hope y'all had a good time frittering away millions upon millions. I'd hate to hear the lawyers got it all.

Now I've never heard a demeaning or unethical word about Clean Line's Illinois attorney.   While not connected and not in the know, from all accounts I've heard, the company's Illinois attorney has done an honorable job representing a despicable client.   Those high priced Chicago attorneys have put out some voluminous work with mountains of paper.... And billable hours.

I bet Clean Line has gone beyond being referred to as the attorney's "RETIREMENT FUND".    It wouldn't surprise me if there is a yacht on Lake Michigan bought for by Clean Line Energy Partners llc.

If CLEP's attorney fees have actually bought a boat,  I wonder what the name is.   Here's a couple suggestions.

"BILLABLE OURS" as the boat was bought one hour at a time.

"CLEPTO" might be another good name for a yacht.    As billing Clean Line was as easy as shoplifting or picking their pockets like a cleptomaniac.  

Now this is just idle speculation.   No one really knows how Clean Line has spent the millions of investors money.   Regulated public utilities have to account for all costs to be allowed customer allocation and consumers pay for utility transmission improvements. 

Unfortunately Clean Line is not a regulated public utility.   Unfortunately Clean Line's Financials are proprietary and confidential at the ICC.   We can only speculate how one blows through somewhere between $150-$200 million dollars in a few years with nothing tangible to show for it. It wouldn't surprise me if they've spent more on attorneys than engineering.

And how much is Clean Line willing to pay for the Plains & Eastern llc easement?  Less the $60 million and probably closer to $50 million for 17,000 acres of easement.  They sure have gone through a lot of money with nothing to show for it.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The ICC Public Forums for the Grain Belt Express Clean Line llc

Some CLEPtomaniacs (Jonathon Abede,
Deann Lanz, Jayshree Desai, & Sahara Bray)
The Clean Line Circus is coming back to Illinois, complete with the Clean Line CLEPtomaniacs.  As Clean Line has moved from state to state, seeking regulatory approval for their projects throughout the Midwest, a fair comparison can be made to Presidential primaries.  The company’s land acquisition team moves from one state to the other seeking a victory and this time it comes back to Illinois with the Grain Belt Express llc company.   

The Illinois Commerce Commission has now scheduled the public forums in the matter of the Grain Belt Express llc desire to build a transmission line across Central Illinois.  It’s surprising the ICC is holding three public forums.  Initially they only scheduled just one for the Rock Island Clean Line llc in Mendota, Illinois, GBE’s sister limited liability corporation, but scheduled another forum because of so many people desiring to share their concerns about the project.  3 forums is really surprising.

ICC Forum at Mendota for RICL

There were several things about the Mendota forum that was quite an education.  It was held at the Mendota High School and most of us probably expected it to be somewhat no partisan and neutral ground.  That was a wrong assumption.   Pulling into the high school parking lot, we all knew the Clean Line Circus had come to town. 

Clean Line Circus Sign
Clean Line had setup a big huge portable sign in the parking lot.  It was the stuff they might use at the Wind Energy Association’s trade show.  In hind sight, I wish we had a bigger green combine to park in front of it.  Grain Belt will brought out the entire team.  Not just RICL’s version of Mark Lawlor, but all the minions, including project manager and associates.  These lesser players work khakis and the white corporate shirt.  Some of these people were associated with the New Mexico llc.  Some associated with Grain Belt llc. 

There were some oddities about team Clean Line at the ICC Forum for RICL.  From an hour and half before the forum started, one woman marched out of the high school to behind their big sign.  We never figured out what she was doing, but we speculated she might have a bottle behind the sign.  Seriously, we never could figure out what she was protecting there. 

Another oddities was our BFF from Clean Line.  It was obvious they designate certain teammembers to play one on one and shadow some of us.  After the third time meeting the same Cleaniac in the hall wall, it becomes obvious it was not a coincidence.  It wasn’t surprising to see her sitting 3 seats down from me in an auditorium of over 700.  Team Clean Line will play one on one and shadow certain people.  It’s really quite comical if you don’t take it too seriously, including photo bombing and selfies.  It’s like having your own personal stalker who is mostly harmless.     

Over the years it's been purported at forums, Clean Line will have people play different roles as needed.  Need a engineer, and suddenly a project director with a major in political science and former Blago man becomes an engineering expert.  Need a health expert and suddenly an engineer for another project is now a resident health expert.  

The gentleman from the ICC to collect the public’s statements and the stenographer brought two of Illinois finest state troopers with them.  Rock Island Clean Line llc brought the Mendota Police Department.  The public brought Future Farmers of America from Mendota, Serena, Ohio and Somonauk.  Those young men in women from the high schools were a class act.  They did a fine job facilitating the forums and assisting elderly.    

By the second forum at Mendota, we got a lot smarter.  The nervousness was gone in all of us.   Any fear or respect of the Clean Line people was gone.  We already recognized three quarters of them and knew their names by sight.  Probably the worst mistake for Clean Line was when we didn’t fear them as Utility Executives.  We saw them for the clowns they were and treated them as such.  We weren’t rude.  We did something worse, we laughed and had a good time in the hour before the forum started.   They were not respected.
Hans Detwieler
(Misspelling intentional.  He was arrogant enough to demand Crane's Chicago print a correction for a misspelled name.)

If any energy company project planners are reading this, here’s a tip.  Never lose the fear.  Be the big leagues energy company executive.  Make the people fear you.  Make the people feel awkward.  Once the people lose the nervous awkwardness and don’t fear the energy company executives and their minions, the company’s project is screwed.  That’s when the people know Goliath is gonna fall, gain confidence, and they enjoy the moment.  Energy executives, always be the Goliath.  That’s the last free tip.

At the second forum we also learned to take pictures.  It’s fascinating to watch people It’s also good to take as many pictures as possible.  Especially at the first forum, watch how team Clean Line operates.  Watch the upper executives of Clean Line (the ones who don’t wear the white team shirts).  Watch whose ass they kiss.  Watch who they talk to.   It might surprise you who Clean Line executives associate with.  There are also hidden members of their team. 

At the second forum, we discovered Aaron Chambers.  He’s Clean Line’s public relations guru to Springfield.  He liked to stay in the background, watch and take notes.  He probably didn’t appreciate being outed as their government affairs, strategic communication and public relations guru for Illinois to make the Clean Line llc's look like a real public utility.  Again, take lots of pictures.  You want to get people like that in photos. 
Aaron Chambers (Springfield Government Affairs, Strategic Communications
and Public Relations Guru& Jimmy Glotfelty (Guy in the Carhart Jacket)
Next time, leave the $3,000 watches at home. 

Also, the ICC representatives had us line up and sign in as we entered to forum.  This was the speaking order.  Somehow Clean Line managed to get several union hall guys on the list to speak first who were never in the line.  Other people signed up for people who weren’t there but showed up later.  Know who is in front and behind you in line.  Again, take pictures!  If you think something funny is going on, don’t be afraid to call them on it.   This is your forum.  The ICC and Springfield have heard the ca-ca, manure, and sales pitch from Clean Line before.  Don’t feel intimidated and let them bully the format of the forum. 

Next, Jimmy Glotfelty is a boring speaker.  He will talk and talk and talk in an attempt to monopolize the time.   The clock is ticking and they will use as much as possible.  He also said somethings in the hall outside the forum that he probably won’t try again.  At the second Mendota forum, Jimmy did his attempt to dress like he was down on the farm.  By midway through the forum, commentary about Jimmy costume had been posted online and was being passed around the gym on smart phones and tablets.  It will be interesting if Skelly comes out to Illinois for the GBE llc forums.  It was a bit surprising they sent the #2 guy and left the big dog on the porch. 

By the end, the message from people supporting Grain Belt Express will have a common message.  It will be “I support Grain Belt Express because it will put money in my pocket”.  It will become   It will be good for a couple of the ICC board members to hear the greed.  It is obvious and paints a picture of greed.
"I support Clean Line because it will put money in my pocket" is the theme of CLEP' supporters.
Finally, speak from the heart.  Say what you believe.  Our position does not need a strategic communication specialist.  I had the fortune to hear two of the greatest speeches I’ve ever heard.  One was from a seventy-five year old grandmother who I never met and the other was from a farmer and Vietnam veteran.   That speech was incredible.  That speech was probably the best patriotic speech I’ve heard since watching Ronald Reagan’s 40th Anniversary of D-Day speech at Normandy.   It was a privilege to hear such a patriotic speech.  

 Fortunately, some of these speeches were videotaped.  It was an incredible moment and impressive to see how well informed people were about the project.  These were not NIMBY speeches, far from it.  These were not “I support this project, just put it somewhere else” speeches.  The statement made by public’s unity and knowledge was voluminous.  It will be good for some of the ICC Board members to witness this directly.