Let’s take a look at who is actually making the decisions about how much and where new transmission lines are needed. Here is a link to the list of current members of PJM’s Transmission Expansion Advisory Committee.
In addition to all the committee members who are directly linked to FirstEnergy or its Ohio subsidiary FirstEnergy Solutions, you will find lots of members, far more than from any other power company, from FirstEnergy subsidiaries such as Mon Power, West Penn Power, Potomac Edison, TrAILCo and even the startling appearance of three, count ’em, three committee members who are employees of PATH, LLC, whose one transmission project will never be built. Look for other Project Mountaineer companies such as PPL, PSEG, AEP, Delmarva Power, and you will find them all well represented.
Several of the FirstEnergy dudes show up again and again under different FE subsidiaries. So, while they are the same people, the owners of their various companies are different in important ways, and have different agendas, all of which lead back to FE’s bottom line.
This is what a cartel looks like. The TEAC is not an “advisory committee.” It is the table around which the major cartel members divvy up all the goodies that Congress and FERC have promised for big transmission projects. The cartel members use the TEAC to reach directly into the pockets of every PJM rate payer and extract extra profits with cost recovery mechanisms first cooked up in the Cheney administration’s 2001 secret energy task force, and codified in the 2005 Energy Policy Act.
The chairman of Cheney’s 2001 White House task force was Ken Lay, CEO of Enron, the 1990s darling of the business press that wrecked the California electrical system and whose company totally collapsed in the early 2000s. So it is no surprise to find at least eight members of the TEAC committee from electricity trading companies and speculators who have no interest in protecting consumers or the reliability of the regional transmission system. And those were only the companies whose names give them away. There may be more there if you do a little additional work with a search engine.
It is the traders who have the most to gain from a national transmission grid, because the ability to trade electricity from coast to coast, behind the curtain of RTO markets and auctions, gives them access to tremendous new profit opportunities. Major investment banks have already been caught manipulating these markets. As with all crime, we have to ask how much more crime is going on that was never detected.
And what is the primary purpose of the TEAC? That is the preparation of the annual Regional Transmission Expansion Plan. The RTEP lays out the plans for transmission system expansion that PJM engineers claim are needed to protect the PJM transmission system. As we have seen, the RTEP, and these “needs,” can change dramatically from year to year, depending on changes in the business priorities of the companies that control the TEAC.
So this is just one of the PJM mechanisms, controlled by the people and companies most likely to benefit, that power companies and traders are using to shape your world and pick your pocket. Just thought you’d like to know the bad news.