MLA Joe Anglin is less than impressed with a new bill introduced by the Tories to ensure all future transmission line projects are reviewed and approved by the Alberta Utilities Commission.
“Every jurisdiction in North America uses a utility board to make decisions,” he said.
Anglin, the Wildrose MLA for Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre, said the bill was changed by the Conservatives in 2009 to eliminate the process of approval by the AUC, and instead making it law that the provincial cabinet approve the projects.
Anglin said his primary bone of contention with the bill is the government wants to leave the lines in that they have already approved.
“That is problematic on a multitude of levels.”
The MLA said DC power lines have been approved between Calgary and Edmonton at an additional cost of $2 million.
“No one can answer the question as to why DC lines were used,” he said. “Who made that decision? Nobody seems to know. And what does it get the public?”
Anglin said the issue may be debated in the legislature Oct. 31. “They are wasting a lot of money.”
Bill 8, the Electric Utilities Amendment Act, 2012, is based on input from Albertans and a direct response to a key recommendation in the Critical Transmission Review Committee report, which the province accepted in February.
Under the Electric Statutes Amendment Act, 2009, the government approved the need for four critical transmission infrastructure projects. These included the Heartland transmission line, the Edmonton to Fort McMurray transmission lines, reinforcement lines between Edmonton and Calgary (north-south lines), and a Calgary Substation. These projects will all continue as plans; however, all new projects will be subject to the AUC needs-assessment process.
In its report, the CTRC reaffirmed the need for the north-south projects.
“Alberta needs strong transmission as our province continues to grow,” said Ken Hughes, minister of energy. “Allowing the electricity regulator to determine need will give confidence to Albertans that projects moving forward will help power our homes and communities.”