Matt Wald Still Wants His UberGrid

The NYT’s Matt Wald is back, pimping for the ÜberGrid.  Matt tells us all about the new EIPC “hypothetical” nationalized grid wet dream, but he doesn’t tell us the fact we most need to know.  Who is EIPC?  No, it’s not a government agency.  No, it’s not an independent committee.  In fact, it is a joint propaganda push by the biggest power companies and RTOs in the North American Eastern Interconnection to create political momentum for creating a national bulk transmission grid, to follow up on Dick Cheney’s and Kenny Lay’s 2001 secret energy task force.

What’s the matter, Mr. Wald.  Didn’t you think this news was fit to print?

The EIPC was initiated by a coalition of regional Planning Authorities (see list below).. These Planning Authorities are entities listed on the NERC compliance registry as Planning Authorities and represent the entire Eastern Interconnection. 

The EIPC will provide a grass-roots approach which builds upon the regional expansion plans developed each year by regional stakeholders in collaboration with their respective NERC Planning Authorities. This approach will provide coordinated interregional analysis for the entire Eastern Interconnection guided by the consensus input of an open and transparent stakeholder process.  

The EIPC received funding from the U.S. Department of Energy in 2010 to initiate a broad-based, transparent collaborative process to involve interested stakeholders in the development of policy futures for transmission analysis. Learn more about the DOE-funded project.

The Stakeholder Steering Committee (SSC) is the body of stakeholder representatives that works collaboratively to inform and provide input on the EIPC’s efforts. Learn more about the SSC.

  • Alcoa Power Generating
  • American Transmission Company
  • Duke Energy Carolinas
  • Electric Energy Inc.
  • Entergy *
  • LGE/KU (Louisville/Kentucky Utilities)
  • Florida Power & Light
  • Georgia Transmission Corporation
  • IESO (Ontario, Canada)
  • International Transmission Company
  • ISO-New England *
  • JEA (Jacksonville, Florida)
  • Midwest ISO *
  • Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia
  • New Brunswick System Operator
  • New York ISO *
  • PJM Interconnection *
  • PowerSouth Energy Coop
  • Progress Energy – Carolinas
  • Progress Energy – Florida
  • South Carolina Electric & Gas
  • Santee Cooper
  • Southern Company *
  • Southwest Power Pool
  • Tennessee Valley Authority *

See all that talk about “transparent,” “stakeholders” and “grassroots”?  That is corporate mumbo jumbo of the first order.  Ain’t nothing grassroots about EIPC.  Mr. Wald should go back to reporter school.  You don’t write an article and leave out all the important names.  Unless you are trying to hide something.

Mr. Wald must have a collection of cliched canards about “our failing grid” that he rotates through these stories of his.  This time it was “balkanization,” “resource nationalism” and hoary quotes for a former Secretary of Energy.  So, let’s take a trip in time back to 2003.

Mr. Wald, why did a tree branch shorting out a transmission line lead to blackouts from Toronto to NYC?  Because of the increased interconnection of transmission across the Eastern Interconnection.  And you want more of that?

You don’t have to look any further than Co-op City in New York to see real grid reliability.  And it doesn’t involve new bulk transmission lines or a new ÜberGrid.

Of course, here’s the clincher in Mr. Wald’s story:

“We said, ‘Here’s what we could do,’ ” he said. “We haven’t said how we would pay for it.”

We know the answer to that one, and it won’t be the stockholders of the companies who control EIPC.

2 thoughts on “Matt Wald Still Wants His UberGrid

  1. Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand of Capitalism” still vexes East Coast Liberals. He fails to explain why the system of building transmission only when needed doesn’t work and created a “balkanized” grid system. Central planning does not work.

    In some respects the transmission of energy is very much like the demand and transportation of grain. Over the decades the demand largely remains constant but the region demanding changes and markets change.

    There will always be a demand for grain just like energy but it always changes. 70 years ago grain moved from the Great Lakes through major ports like Duluth, Chicago and Toledo up through the St. Lawrence Seaway. These ports are now dead ghost towns, if they are not demolished. New Orleans is the major export region. Even still, the Northeast United States exports more and more grain.

    Domestically, new rail terminals have been built to supply unit trains to the Texas feedlot market. No one complains about building new rail infrastructure for changing markets. No one complains about antiquated rail lines that serviced old markets or the fact the majority of rail lines run east to west with less running north to south when southern markets to New Orleans and Texas have become more active

    Like energy transmission, we make what we have work. We do not reinvent the wheel for the current fad or demand. Just as market conditions changed, it will surely change again. America built powerlines for grandiose Presidential energy policies of Jimmy Carter when we were told coal is our savior. We are fools to believe we now need to reinvent the wheel and build a new infrastructure based on the wants of the wind energy industry.

    Markets change and the rules of arbitrage dictate new energy generation enters the market when excessive profits are made in a region. Conversely, when prices become too low and supply to great, older or less efficient forms of generation exits the market. Constructing transmission based on social agendas and centralized planning is as foolish as the former USSR attempting to plan food production. Let the market figure it out.

    It is interesting to watch how RTO’s and FERC act when the subject is the “need” for new transmission. When the subject is artificial barriers between region interconnections, the RTO’s and FERC show their true motivations. I suspect these artificial barriers created by RTO’s to prevent energy generated in one region entering another market is the true problem and the failure of FERC to properly regulate. No amount of new transmission will solve the problem when the root cause is RTO’s artificial barriers.

    I have to give Mr. Wald credit for accurately describing Clean Line Energy as an “end run around the traditional regulatory process”. This is another story Mr. Wald should have wrote. Unfortunately, Michael Skelly and Clean Line Energy do nothing to build Mr. Wald’s fantasy of a “smart grid”. Clean Line Energy’s one way energy highways with one on and one off ramp are the worst case poster child of a “balkanized” energy grid. Clean Line Energy has no place in this article and Mr. Wald should have rethought using that example.

    Mr. Wald’s writing skills would better be served by writing about the interconnection issues between PJM and MISO. Maybe Mr Wald gets a free lunch to some swanky Washington restaurant from lobbyists to write these shallow puff pieces for the New York Times. As long as Mr. Wald’s drivel meets the NYT sociopolitical agenda, he continues to get printed.

  2. Just how many “open and transparent” planning authorities do the “grass roots” need? Since when is a EIPC a FERC jurisdictional planning authority? Why does this map include transmission lines that were never built, like PATH? If their wet dream grid includes unneeded lines that were never built, how accurate is it? Answer: not (well, unless you’re Matt Wald and you have lunch with some transmission lobbyists who make you feel important). Wald is a disgrace to the journalism profession.

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