AUC Heartland Hearing – Day 9
The April 21 session started off with arguments for and against a Motion by the Sturgeon Landowners Group (SLG) and Blue Route Utility Transmission Elimination (BRUTE) to remove the Applicants’ west alternate route from consideration, leaving only the Applicants’ preferred route for the AUC to consider. Arguments to remove the alternate route included: specific wording in Bill 50 which legislated the building of new 500kV lines including the Heartland line, timing of Bill 50 legislation in relation to existing 500kV line in place at that time, and alleged manipulation of high voltage line numbering.
Arguments against removing the alternate route were presented by the AESO, City of Edmonton, County of Strathcona, AltaLink, and several lawyers representing rural landowners along the Applicants’ preferred route. Arguments included: the Motion is a “tactic” and is “absurd”, misinterpretation or narrow interpretation of the Bill 50 wording, Bill 50 was not meant to take away any AUC rights to determine routing, and timing of the Motion is impractical. The AUC panel will inform hearing participants shortly when they will decide on this matter.
Cross-examination of the Applicants continued for the rest of the day on routing selection. Legal counsel representing rural landowners along the Applicants’ preferred route questioned the Applicants on criteria used to eliminate and select specific sections of their preferred route. It became clear that most decisions in this regard were made subjectively by AltaLink very early in the route selection process as opposed to being based on facts and information obtained from research and stakeholders during the public consultation process.
As well, the Applicants made it clear that almost none of the factors allegedly considered for eliminating and selecting sections of the alternate route or the rural part of the preferred route were considered for that section of their preferred route within the Greenbelts (TUCs). (For example, homes within 150m of the proposed line within the Greenbelts were not counted by the Applicants.)