The Arka Tech

Letter to the Editor–RE: Transmission line worth the cost

Editor’s note: After the editorial about Clean Line that appeared in the Nov. 12 issue of The Arka Tech, we’ve received negative feedback on social media and our website from those who oppose our newspaper’s opinion. While we as a newspaper stand by our opinion that the transmission line is a good idea for our state and Pope County, we would like to direct our readers to the comments section of our website at http://arkatechnews.com/editorial-transmission-line-worth-the-cost/, as well as the BLOCK Plains & Eastern Clean Line: Pope, Johnson, Newton & Conway Co’s Facebook page, to see the opinions of those who disagree with us. Reading the information put forth by these individuals and groups will help readers gain a better understanding of the issue.

Below is a letter authored by Cynthia Callahan in response to the editorial.


 

Dear Editor,
My remarks are in red.

Editorial: Transmission line worth the cost

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued its final environmental impact statement last Wednesday concerning the construction of a $2 billion, 700-mile transmission line that would send wind energy from the Oklahoma panhandle into Arkansas and a handful of other states.

The issue concerning Wind power actually being on the line and its delivery to other states is an issue that would take pages to address, so I’ll leave it alone, for now.

The DOE cited no widespread significant impacts from either the construction of or required maintenance on the proposed Plains and Eastern Clean Line Transmission Project, but groups like Golden Bridge, Block Plains & Eastern Clean Line and Arkansas Citizens Against Plains & Eastern Clean Line have all joined forces to oppose the project.

Did you speak to anyone from these groups?

Did you know our Entire Congressional Delegation from AR is opposed to this project? Did you know that nearly every county on the Proposed Route has issued a Resolution in opposition to this project? Did you know there is opposition in the AR State Legislature? OUR Local government officials and State Legislature as well as our Federal representatives have looked at this project and determined that it is NOT good for anyone, let alone AR. There are also people and legislators in other states, equally opposed to the project CL is trying to develop in their states.

These groups are primarily headed by lawyers seeking to profit off landowners who think they’re getting gypped by the billionaire company assigning land loss to progress.

Correction: There is ONE lawyer assisting the landowners in Golden Bridge, LLC, to help ensure that landowners have a chance for a fair settlement if the project becomes reality. The other groups are truly, “grass-roots” groups of concerned citizens banding together to protect the private property rights of ALL U. S. Citizens, for you see if this unused, untested, unregulated piece of legislation from the 2005 Energy Policy Act is used to give Federal Eminent Domain to a private company to take private land from citizens, it will set a very dangerous precedent. EVERY citizens property rights are threatened by this action should the DOE choose to participate with Clean line. Who gave the ‘billionaire company’ the right to assign land loss, land that it doesn’t own and has no right to, to ‘progress’?

Clean Line, not our single lawyer, stands to make huge profits by taking, through Federal Eminent Domain, the private property of landowners to make money for the venture capitalist investors behind the 14 LLC’s that make up Clean Line Energy Partners. If this was not hugely profitable for Clean Line’s investors they would not be doing it. They are in the business of making money, they are the Zilkha family, the Ziff family, National Grid – a United Kingdom company and Blue Horizon from Houston. They are investors, this is about money not wind.

Did you know that ‘gypped’ is a Racial Slur?

Who determined that this project is ‘progress’? You? The ‘billionaire company’?

The intended recipient of the power, the TVA just completed their RFT, and in this planning they prefer to continue to develop their own renewable sources. They could have agreed to take power from this line but have not done so. Entergy in AR, has NOT agreed to an interconnection here in Pope Co.

Landowners would be devastated by legal fees put toward an unwinnable cause

Correction: The Landowners won’t be devastated by legal fees; that is the purpose of the LLC. How, exactly, do you KNOW this is UN-winnable?

The land won’t be lost, it’ll be used.

Correction: The land and its use will be lost and forever changed for the landowner. A 200 foot ROW, right of way, and 150 – 200 Ft towers will forever DEVALUE the property and the property of everyone in sight of the towers. This is a huge transfer of wealth from the landowner to whoever owns the ROW. Small landowners will be impacted most. A few acres is now unsellable. Land appreciates in value but this land will never be worth what it would have been without the towers. This is taking wealth and future earning potential away from landowners and giving it to a private business to increase their wealth and future earning potential.

There are people on the proposed route who have been in limbo for several years now, putting home building plans on hold because this line will diminish the current value of their land and prevent them from building their home on their land.

Tourism will be negatively impacted as these towers will be seen for miles and miles.

But the adjacent landowner will suffer property value loss, loss of investment and future wealth but will receive NO compensation with eminent domain.

While it’s true some landowners will lose strips of their property— though they’ll be compensated quite well for any land occupied by the transmission line—this minor inconvenience is necessary for the larger welfare of our state, and Pope County, too.

How did you determine that landowner’s will be ‘compensated quite well’? How did you determine that this is beneficial for our state?

You must not know anything about negotiating with hired land agents or the condemnation process in Federal eminent domain which also differs from state eminent domain.

“Minor inconvenience” is an opinion to which you are entitled but it is hurtful to those who will be ‘inconvenienced’, who have already lost 2 years of their lives dealing with this and for whom the future is uncertain. Yes, only 2 years even though this has been in the works for nearly 10 years now, because Clean Line failed to properly notify actual landowners of their plans until near the end of the Draft EIS . Which is why our Congressman asked for and received an extension on the comment period deadline. These comments could only address the environmental impact, not the merits of the project. Never the less, thousands of individual citizens as well as businesses and agencies weighed in on the negative impacts of the proposed project. These comments can be read in the Final EIS.

The DOE’s statement also mentioned the locales of possible convertor stations, where the wind energy will be transferred into clean energy capable of powering homes. If the project comes to fruition, this station would be built in Pope County.

Correction: There are not ‘convertor stations’, there is ONE along the route. It was not part of the original plan, AR was to be a ‘fly-over’ state. ONE was proposed for the HVDC line in Pope Co. to interconnect with Entergy, but Entergy has not agreed to the interconnection.

“. . . where the wind energy will be transferred into clean energy.”

This is non-sense. It makes no sense. This statement demonstrates your lack of understanding about electric power generation, transmission and converter stations.

This proposed project is High Voltage DC, meaning it is direct current, unlike the AC grid real utilities have built. HVDC means that AC current from the source, like wind generators, gas, coal, nuclear or hydro generators has to be converted to DC before being transmitted on a HVDC line. There would have to be a converter station at each end, one in Guymon, OK, one in Shelby, Co, TN. If a converter station is placed along the line, power could leave the line, be converted to AC and place on the real grid or AC power from the real grid, Entergy, could be placed on the HVDC line. This is like a long extension cord, over 700 miles long.

Wind energy, is mechanical energy transformed into electrical energy and is transmitted over AC lines. AC lines would have to be built to get Wind energy to the converter station in OK.

WIND energy cannot carry the base load of a transmission line because wind is INTERMITTANT. The wind doesn’t blow all the time or at a steady rate, even in Oklahoma! ALL transmission lines carrying wind generated power must have the base load generated by some other non-intermittent source, i.e. gas, coal, nuclear or hydro generators. Clean Line refers to this as a ‘gas firmed’ line saying that natural gas is their preferred source. This line would not, because it could not, carry WIND alone. There would be ‘DIRTY’ electricity on the line, too. Most likely, IF a converter station is built in AR, Entergy would have to sell power on the line to support the base load, not buy it.

This station alone would bring power to more than 160,000 Arkansas’ homes and more than 1 million homes total,

IF the line ever reaches and maintains full Capacity, which is unrealistic and

IF Entergy buys power instead of selling power. Right now, AR is an energy Exporter, and does not buy power.

but more importantly, it would serve as a direct $100 million investment in our state, the focus of which would be located in our county.

Shorter term gain in the service industry, providing food and lodging for OUT of STATE workers is hardly worth it. READ the EIS, only 27% of the few hundred, NOT thousands, of jobs will be LOCAL and they will be temporary.

If the nation’s DOE says the environmental impact doesn’t amount to much—certainly not as much as U.S.’s crippling dependence on coal and foreign oil—then it doesn’t make sense for our state to drag its feet giving approval to the project.

Correction: “U.S.’s crippling dependence on coal and foreign oil”Gas prices are falling! What crippling dependence on coal and foreign oil?

Correction:“. . .it doesn’t make sense for our state to drag its feet giving approval to the project.”

If the DOE partner’s with Clean Line, the State of AR will have no say in the matter. Nothing is being held up by the State.

CL applied to the Arkansas Public Service Commission in 2010 for public utility status and were denied because they are NOT a public utility and under the law did not qualify. The APSC could not grant them public utility status even if they wanted to because they do not meet the criteria.

Also, at that time there was NO converter station proposed for AR, the line would just cut clear across the state with zero benefit to AR.

CL immediately applied to the DOE under section 1222 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to by-pass the state.

Did you know that the founder of Clean Line used to work for the DOE and I heard him say to the AR Legislature Energy Committee that he helped Congress draft that act back in 2005? Conflict of interest?

Promptly after the DOE’s statement, the Arkansas congressional delegation released a statement of its own asking the DOE to slow down its review process in an attempt to forestall the inevitable construction, which would only be reasonable if there were concerns about the environmental or socioeconomic impact of such a project.

“inevitable”? How do you see into the future?

. . .only be reasonable if there were concerns about the environmental or socioeconomic impact of such a project”

Oh, there are concerns, very reasonable concerns that are environmental, socioeconomic, health and safety, grid reliability, and property rights related, just to name a few! Enough that hundreds of people and ALL of the AR congressional delegation are concerned enough to take action. NONE of us are opposed to renewable energy or ‘progress.’

We are concerned about the rights of private citizens. We are concerned about the 4th amendment rights to protection from seizure of private property, we are concerned about the 5th amendment and abuse of eminent domain, and we are concerned about the 10th amendment rights that govern the States relationship to the Federal government. There is much to be concerned about.

Our Congressmen have done far more than release a statement. They have introduced legislation to protect the State of Arkansas and its citizens from being excluded from decisions that affect us. They have written letters, plural, to the DOE requesting information and meetings that has been met with silence. We are concerned about being ignored by the DOE. Does that concern you? The DOE ignoring Congress? It should.

All of this is in the public record.

The facts are quite the opposite, though.

Correction: Untrue. So far your article contains only one fact – in the first sentence.

Aside from reducing carbon dioxide pollutants by millions of tons, the transmission line would create thousands of construction and hundreds of maintenance jobs in our state, bolstering economic development where it’s needed most.

Correction: “. . . thousands of construction and hundreds of maintenance jobs in our state”

Another ‘fact’ that is NOT TRUE, if you had READ the EIS, you would know that this is not true. Neither can CL claim to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by simply building this line. They cannot guarantee the replacement of coal powered plants. They don’t even have subscribers signed up to put power on the line even though the DOE required 75% subscription by now according to the initial agreement.

Arkansas is also home to manufacturing plants owned by General Cable, LM Windpower and Bekaert Steel, all of which produce materials vital in making wind turbines. The project will undoubtedly create an increased demand for these materials to build new turbines in the Oklahoma panhandle, thus growing these Arkansas’ plants and offering opportunities for more jobs.

Correction: CL doesn’t make wind turbines and has no power to place orders for these materials. The wind industry MIGHT buy from these AR companies and then again they MIGHT not.

General Cable doesn’t make wind turbines either but they do make the cable the HVDC line would use. I heard the head of General Cable say, more than once, that IF they get an order for the cable it will keep them busy for 2 years, but he has NEVER once in public stated that it could create more jobs, just keep his business busy for about 2 years. More Jobs? Uh, no.

Lots of ‘ifs and mights’. These AR businesses have NO guarantee for business as a result of this project

Is manufacturing steel and other materials, green and clean? Is clear cutting 200 ft ROW and treating it with herbicide, green and clean? Is the energy produced greater than the energy expended to create the power? Energy is a tricky thing, you can’t get out more than you put in. Many things that seem like good ideas turn out to be a Net Negative in the Energy balance. Ethanol is a classic example.

Additional tax revenues for the state and more specifically Pope County would allow money to be spent improving schools and other long-term funding ventures.

Correction: According to the application before the DOE CL wants SWPA to own the infrastructure in AR. That means that it would be owned by the Federal Government and it would be TAX EXEMPT! NO Ad Valorum taxes will be paid, period. There will be NO TAX REVENUE for any county. Property Values will be decreased by the infrastructure and have a negative impact on tax revenue.

I have a copy of a proposal CL has presented to Pope Co. It makes some promises that are NON-BINDING, it is meaningless and Pope Co has not entered into any kind of agreement. It also states that CL would NOT pay their VOLUNTARY payments to the county unless the county agrees to shut out the voices of the landowners along the route.

The benefits cannot be ignored. In a state and county where the jobs, money and clean energy are needed, the Plains and Eastern Clean Line Transmission Project is the most logical and efficient source of energy for our future.

The ‘benefits you ‘can’t ignore’ are simply untrue. The problems with this project and the process are numerous. IF you want to really understand this issues that many people have been researching for 2 + years, here is a good place to start. http://blockcleanlinepope.blogspot.com/

“. . . most logical and efficient source of energy for our future.”

HVDC from Guymon, OK to Shelby, Co, TN through tornado prone land is not logical. IF it ever carried 3500 MW of power, clean and dirty as it must, and a tornado takes down or damages ONE tower, all 3500 MW are off line. There is no way to re-route and by-pass a portion of the line like on the AC grid. How is that safe and reliable? It is all off line until fully repaired.

According the IEEE burying HVDC underground is a good, safe and now cost effective way to utilize HVDC. It is being done around the world for 300 – 400 miles. There is no demonstrated need for the 700+ mile line. Wind energy from the plains can and is being utilized without this line.

I am an environmentalist, I am for renewable energy. MY research tells me that LOCAL DISTRIBUTED Renewable energy is the most efficient and logical way to go.

So, enough about Clean Line. OTHER ISSUES with this Editorial:

You need to understand that real life issues can’t be discussed or settled or understood with editorials, sound bites, Twitter, Facebook posts or press releases. Real issues take real research which takes lots of time. It is easier these days but no less time consuming. There is more misinformation than ever before. Just because you read it on the Clean Line website, doesn’t make it true. This issue can’t be understood in 1 hour of web browsing.

AS a journalist, with a public platform, you should be very concerned about the authenticity and accuracy of information that you form and publish an opinion on. Once it is in print, it is part of the record and never goes away.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but they are not entitled to their own facts. No dialog, discussion, examination, or coming together on an issue can occur if both parties are not in possession of the facts. An opinion based on falsehoods is worse than useless.

So, now that you have been presented with ‘new to you’ information you do not need to believe it because I said so. You should reinvestigate this issue and re-evaluate your position. I would be happy to share more of my sources with you if are willing to invest the time.

You are entitled to your opinion and may support this project in spite of the fact that it will NOT create thousands of jobs or pay any tax revenues. You see, by publically supporting this project in print based on falsehoods, you are now guilty of disseminating those falsehoods, as well.

Cynthia Callahan MSE
Visiting Lecturer in Chemistry