Choice Quotes from 2005 Charleston Love Fest

A while back, I posted the transcript of the power line/coal love fest hosted by Gov. Manchin and attended by FERC Commissioners, WV PSC Commissioners and bigshots from AEP and Allegheny Energy.  Here is a link to the love fest transcript.

A friend in New Jersey has just done Power Line readers a big favor by pulling out some choice quotes from love fest participants.  So I will share the love with you.

Read the quotes.  Back in 2005, were the planners of PATH and TrAIL talking about “reliability” as the only reason they wanted new power lines?  Why has all the love from 2005 for coal by wire and making ratepayers foot the bill for new power lines disappeared from power company advertising?

Here’s the love:

Pat Wood, Chairman of FERC, on the purpose of the conference:

“This conference … is part of our strategic plan to increase transmission infrastructure and maintain a reliable transmission system that will permit the lowest cost supplies of electricity to reach customers all over the country. … The ability to build additional coal generation and to transfer more coal-generated electricity, can mitigate the reliance that our country has had on natural gas as a fuel for power.” p. 12

“As you know, transmission is sited by the states, and so, again, that’s a strong reason for collaboration here, that we’ve got to make this work as a team. Looking to come away with some ideas to which the Commission can assist in promoting the regional planning process to integrate electric resources that are hard to locate closest to customers. These coal plants, the future coal plants in our country, and the existing coal plants, tend to be located relatively remotely from where they’re being used, at least in part, and so to enable the power to get from where it’s generated to where it’s consumed, it important to have a strong and robust delivery system.” p. 13

With regard to the fact that power line expansions that go through Pennsylvania and New Jersey to benefit New York and New England are a tough sell:

“I was on a taskforce when Governor Moore was governor of West Virginia and Governor Sununu was in New England. Governor Moore’s objective was to build power plants in West Virginia and ship it. We quickly discovered or came to the conclusion that if the lines were going to go into New England, they had to cross Pennsylvania and New York. Therein was the problem – raping and pillaging the land and not dropping off some of that power would be an impediment and so the project never really went very far.” William Reinke, Executive Director of SERC (the PJM of the Southeast), p. 181-82

On how using the regional transmission planning process lends credibility to the coal industry’s efforts to push through transmission projects:

“The second question is, what do we power plant owners think about regional planning and how can regional planning bodies help us? … taking a look at these things through the regional state compacts that we’ve tried to put together makes a tremendous amount of sense because it lends credibility to what you’re trying to do.” Mike Morris, President, Chairman, and C.E.O., American Electric Power, (the second largest power producer in the U.S., they produce over 60% of their electricity from coal and are one of the power companies behind the PATH project), p. 186

Chairman Wood on why it is important to keep these coal/transmission projects out of the press:

“[I] hope we don’t have that transmission project become common dinner table talk for the average citizen before we actually take care of it.” p. 163

A coal industry executive on why the transmission projects are important for the coal industry:

“In the east, where is there extra power in the grid today? It’s in the main area, essentially Illinois and PJM, essentially Western Pennslyvania and ECAR, essentially West Virginia and Indiana have the excess coal sitting there on the ground, the capacity factor, the coal unites in those three units is under 70 percent. They can produce more power if the wires are there to move it.” Jacob Williams, V.P., Generation Development, Peabody Energy, p. 196

“[T]he Powder River Basin is very cost effective, as we all know, in bringing coal to the Midwest as well as now to the east and all the way into New York and things like that, all because it’s low cost to mine. … I won’t bore you taking you through it but the fact of the matter is it’s far cheaper to put coal on the wires than it is to move it by rail.” Williams, p. 199

On why the projects, in addition to being sold as solving reliability issues, should be spun as having economic benefits:

“Finally – and I’ve sat through enough public hearings. If you lay out the value of these lines to parties in a clear economic story, it’s a lot easier for regulators, state and local politicians to get behind them. But if all we do is waive the reliability flag, you know. But for a blackout it’s hard to get people excited about it. But if you say we are going to save X amount in general because this line is going to be build and, oh, by the way, it may help reduce gas prices as well, I think you have a better story to tell.” Williams, p. 202

On the importance of blackouts:

“I think blackouts are also an important aspect of getting transmission built, so please, more blackouts, okay?” Jerry Vaninetti, Management Consultant of the Coal Project Development, p. 205

I think that was meant as a joke, but to every joke there is some truth…

And finally, West Virginia Governor Manchin’s thoughts about the environmental concerns of the citizens of the Northeast:

“We need to get New York and some of the Northeastern states to quit suing us and taking us to task, every time they get a little bit of puff of smoke coming their way.” Joe Manchin, Governor of West Virginia, p. 9

My favorites?  “…more blackouts, okay?”, “[I] hope we don’t have that transmission project become common dinner table talk for the average citizen before we actually take care of it.”  I especially liked the reference to how power lines through WV are needed to get Powder River basin coal-fired electricity to the east coast.

And can you believe the Chairman of FERC waging a war on natural gas on behalf of coal?