Abuse of Power - AEP is a Clear and Present Danger

"AEP is a Clear and Present Danger to the people of Arkansas," the title of the online petition asking APSC to deny in full SWEPCO’s Application to build a transmission line from Shipe Road Station to the proposed Kings River Station, is an urgent call for action that in a few weeks has over 2,500 signatures and compelling comments from people in our community and far away, asking APSC to deny AEP permission to use eminent domain to build one more transmission line, for the first time in over 10 years in Arkansas.

 

The urgent request and the phrase chosen to describe the imminent permanent devastation of our economy, health and environment, given the suggestion made by John Bethel that Route 33 will be approved but can be challenged on appeal. Why would Bethel assume Route 33 will be approved when the case has not even been in the hands of the Commissioners?

 

Martha Peine in her September 7, 2013 Public Comment to the APSC asks a pertinent question:

"Who does Staff represent and why are they colluding with SWEPCO? The explicit collusion between SWEPCO's attorney Matthews and APSC Staff attorney Dawn Guthrie, changing the order of the presentation of evidence at the last minute to support their shared strategy of attempting to minimize the impact of Save the Ozarks' expert witness testimony by not cross examining them, cannot be denied. And it certainly defies all reason that Judge Griffin did not have a single question about that same testimony."

There is also the issue of the conflicting relationship between APSC and the utilities:

 

  • Two of the three APSC commissioners that will decide our future are SPP members

  • John Bethel and Clark Cotten, APSC Staff are SPP members.

  • A revolving door with several top APSC members taking high paying jobs with AEP and other utilities after leaving APSC is public knowledge.

 

I sent a request to Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel to investigate the relationship between ASPC and the utilities, on August 30, 2013, with no response from his office.

 

What is wrong with granting AEP power of eminent domain? Any honest negotiations have to be based on a spirit of compromise and mutual respect, not on the threat of force. It is difficult to imagine AEP agreeing a comprehensive benefits agreement when AEP can walk away from the table and remove people by force.

 

Case in point: The Gentry Wildlife Safari, a 400 acre family owned and operated park, the pride of the Gentry community and the only attraction that draws hundreds of thousand repeat visitors and students, has been condemned with a 345,000 Volt transmission line traversing the park. Leon Wilmouth, owner of the Safari started by his father 50 years ago with one backhoe and three buffaloes, worked 34 years for AEP is on disability on the AEP payroll. Out of loyalty for AEP, fearing reprisals living in SWEPCO country and having to take care with his family of the wildlife and visitors to the park on a daily basis, did not file an intervention. The United States Department of Agriculture, responsible for the health of the wildlife in the 3

park, was ignored by AEP. There is not one reference to the Safari in the EIS or the transcript of the trial decided by Judge Griffin in April 2013. Leon has a final court date on October 16, 2013 and the wildlife must be out of Park 4 the next day. AEP had a variance of 600 feet from the center line to move the transmission line but decided to traverse the Safari to save a few dollars.

If AEP is willing to ignore reason, logic and respect for the Gentry community and Leon’s family, ignoring the life threatening stress of capture and sedation for wildlife with no place to go, what can we expect for Pea Ridge National Military Park, the Devil’s Eyebrow Natural Area, the Gateway Elementary School, and the Beaver flood area, just to mention a few of the places on Route 33?

We pray the USACE will deny permit on their federal easement not subject to eminent domain for all routes.

Please visit NoPowerLines.org "Get Involved" to join the online petition.

 

 

Dr. Luis Contreras

September 18, 2013

Is there a clear conflict of interest between APSC and SPP?

In 2013, there is a clear conflict of interest with APSC commissioners and key APSC staff working with SPP. The SSP website lists seventeen APSC members, including former APSC Chairman Lavenski R. Smith, currently federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, nominated by President George W. Bush in 2001. Chairman Colette Honorable Commissioner Olan Reeves, Executive Director John Bethel and Senior Electrical Engineer Clark Cotten work with SPP.

 

To the general public, having key APSC members working with SPP, the agency that claims we need more transmission lines and a larger grid, gives the appearance of conflict of interest. How can APSC make fair, objective, unbiased major investment decisions that have permanent negative impact on our economy, environment and health? How can APSC protect the long term benefit of the people of Arkansas? How can APSC avoid promoting corporate profits of AEP, SWEPCO, Entergy and the rest of the Arkansas Coal Cartel?

 

What is SPP and what do they do? “As a FERC-designated Regional Transmission Organization, one of SPP's responsibilities is to create regional transmission expansion plans. With its members, regulators, and stakeholders, SPP creates planning models and studies that determine what new transmission is needed to meet our region's long and near term needs and create a cost-effective, flexible, and robust transmission network.” In other words, they get paid to build large complex expensive and unreliable grids. That is their job.

SPP has outlived its mission. SPP is made up of central power generation utilities deadly afraid of distributed power generation. They have not figured out a way to make huge profits with common people generating at least half of the household energy. APSC does not understand the indirect benefits of distributed generation that create many local high paying jobs, and new high tech business opportunities. The APSC review process for AEP applications does not consider distributed alternatives, only grid expansions.

 

  • In 1960’s when central energy generation was the only way to provide electricity, organizations like SPP made sense, and having APSC personnel working as SPP members may have been a good idea to stay current with trends in technology.

 

  • In 2013, there are better proven alternatives to central power generation. Distributed energy generation, mainly Solar and Wind, use simple, reliable, affordable, silicon technology. Roof mounted installations require a 20 feet one inch in diameter conduit, instead of miles of conductors with high voltage transmission lines and sub stations, conceived by Nicola Tesla in 1800’s. SPP’s technology is outdated and APSC should stay far, far away if they are to represent the public, and make decisions in the long term interest of the people of Arkansas.

 

  • Reading the same information, having access to the same people, makes the appearance of collusion a reality that hurts APSC public trust and credibility, especially when they have they grant AEP the power of eminent domain to take private property.

 

  • The AEP strategy to divide and conquer, sell projects one piece at a time, withholding information, changing their story, requesting confidential protection from federal agencies, and trying to re-do their Application when proven wrong in court, has disappointed all the people that have to live with the consequences of AEP’s projects.

 

  • Environmental Impact Studies must be prepared by experts with full on-site inspections to all the proposed routes to provide impartial comprehensive and realistic assessments of environmental, cultural, and historic and health hazards for all the routes. Expertise comes from knowledge, professional integrity, and corporate values, not from doing the same thing poorly over and over again on behalf of whoever is paying the bills. There is a name for that.

 

  • Only then should AEP be granted the power of eminent domain. Negotiations should never be done with threats and intimidation; property condemnation is not an option.

 

Some SPP members use Wind and Solar farms that fit their model of central generation. Power “farms” are a dumb idea. Sun and Wind are everywhere. Farms require huge transmission lines and they are not clean, even when using that name.

 

SPP members are traditional central power generators, mostly coal and gas that require high voltage transmission lines to distribute power to customers:

  • Their grid mindset, training, experience, passion, research, and investments, is building larger networks.

  • They make legal profit moving electrons from point A to point B, (like a trucking company), and illegal profits wheeling electricity to far away markets at a higher price, with no cost, no risk and no value added. That is illegal competition in out of state markets with costs and environmental impact paid by the people of Arkansas.

  • They sell Extremely High Voltage transmission lines to APSC as a way to improve reliability, meaning low probability of black outs, ignoring known hazards of power leaks, EMF and ELF radiation. This is a fallacy as seen recently with problems with cascading 345 kV lines failures: PJM Interconnection's incontrovertible transmission planning system failed massively September 13, 2013.

  • The lean way to improve grid reliability is with comprehensive line maintenance, but this is an accounting expense that lowers profitability and shareholder value. Most distribution lines are left unattended and new lines are built.

  • Utilities like AEP make profits building transmission lines and use these assets to back bonds. Then, they make huge financial profits selling bonds in security markets.

 

SPP is doing all they can to stop distributed renewable power generation and consumption from taking off, having net-metering agreements that discourage homeowners from installing large solar and wind systems. Legislation needs to change to promote distributed solutions. SPP and its members have stopped changes in legislation and will use all their political influence and money to stop new policies that promote distributed generation.

 

Dr. Luis Contreras

September 20, 2013

Site Under Construction

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, Lean Power, Solar and Wind Distributed Energy in NWA and the Ozarks, No Transmission Lines, No Power Lines

, Lean Power, Solar and Wind Distributed Energy in NWA and the Ozarks, No Transmission Lines, No Power Lines

Lean Power, Solar and Wind Distributed Energy in NWA and the Ozarks, No Transmission Lines, No Power Lines, Lean Power, Solar and Wind Distributed Energy in NWA and the Ozarks, No Transmission Lines, No Power Lines

, Lean Power, Solar and Wind Distributed Energy in NWA and the Ozarks, No Transmission Lines, No Power Lines

, Lean Power, Solar and Wind Distributed Energy in NWA and the Ozarks, No Transmission Lines, No Power Lines