Recently a letter to the editor referred to me as a one-trick pony for defending property rights, and then the minister of energy wrote to the Red Deer Advocate and attacked my credibility and accused me of flip-flopping on the use of HVDC technology. To my single-issue critics, these are two issues.
In 2005 this government approved the construction of a 500KV AC transmission line between Edmonton and Calgary on the presumption there would be no new generation development in southern Alberta. Critics rejected this presumption, and now in 2012 with the development of significant new generation in southern Alberta, the critics have been proven correct.
I have been consistent in my opposition to the unnecessary expensive construction of a transmission line between Edmonton and Calgary — regardless of the technology. I opposed the line on the basis that all the evidence confirms the lines are not needed, and on the grounds that the proposal is nothing more than a government (public) subsidy to export electricity to the United States. I am not opposed to exporting electricity per se; I just don’t think the public should be forced to pay for it without receiving a payback.
I agree with the use of HVDC technology when it is applicable; I have never wavered or changed my position on this issue. I oppose the misuse of HVDC technology, particularly when the transmission line is not needed or in the public interest. To imply my opposition to the misuse of HVDC technology is flip-flopping or suggestive of supporting another technology — is a misrepresentation.
The PC government is proposing to build two HVDC transmission lines between Edmonton and Calgary at an additional cost of $2 billion over and above what it would normally cost to build a comparable HVAC transmission line. The sad fact is the benefits normally derived from the application of HVDC technology are not being proposed or realized. In fact, the proposed use of HVDC technology is actually raising the total amount of line loss, increasing the total EMF distance, and costing the public more. If the technology was being applied correctly there should be a savings in these categories.
On the issue of credibility, the minister of energy alleges my math is wrong, and the transmission lines are only going to cost $5.2 billion. (The government also maintains it will only increase electric bills by $3.40 a month). The facts tell another story. The condensed version of the AESO 2009 Ten Year Plan (pages 12 to 14) lists the total cost of the proposed transmission lines at $16.588 ($16.6) billion dollars. This is an 800-per-cent increase over and above Alberta’s existing transmission infrastructure. The minister continually misrepresents these costs by only referring to the cost of a particular line(s), rather than the entire plan. Complicating matters, the first two projects of the plan have nearly tripled in cost, and there are no cost control measures in place. Constructions of the two HVDC lines have not begun.
In June 2012 a former senior AESO engineer and co-author of the AESO 2009 Ten Year Plan stated under oath that these transmission lines are not needed, and they are not in the public interest. On Nov. 20 the AESO released information projecting that the transmission line costs on every Albertan’s electric bill are expected to rise 400 per cent in the next two years, just about the time when only four of the 12 proposed projects in the $16.6 billion plan are completed.
The Energy Minister Ken Hughes claims these transmission lines are needed. He criticizes opponents but he can’t point to any qualitative or quantitative analysis as evidence of proof the lines are needed. In fact, he and the rest of the PC caucus, just voted against an amendment that would require evidence of proof.
Albertans need to look at their electricity bills and multiply the transmission charge(s) on their electric bills by four (the expected 400-per-cent increase AESO is projecting) and ask a simple question: “Does Minister Ken Hughes’s claim of $3.40 equal the AESO’s projected 400-per-cent increase in transmission costs?”
Credibility can be found in the math.
MLA Joe Anglin