Electricity Export from Alberta to United States

The latest debacle over Alberta’s electricity transmission plans is based on cables sent from Ottawa’s U.S. embassy in 2003 and 2008, and recently made public by WikiLeaks. The Alberta Government promised senior U.S. officials as far back as 2003 that there was abundant electricity to export to the U.S. and the only limiting factor was transmission capacity.  See The Tyee, Calgary Herald, Wildrose Caucus, Edmonton Sun, CBC, Oilweek, Vue WeeklyRed Deer Advocate and Sherwood Park News for details.

This information confirms what many Albertans have feared for the past several years. As a result of these most recently-leaked documents, critics of the Alberta Government’s plans to build a $16 billion electricity transmission system without any accountability or public studies to determine whether or not the new lines are needed are calling for a major judicial inquiry into the massive export project to be funded by Alberta power consumers.

Shortly following the 2003 cable from the Ottawa U.S. embassy, Alberta Energy Minister Murray Smith and the rest of the Alberta Energy Department started planning for the export of Alberta electricity. First, the previous 50:50 split for financing power lines between the transmission industry and Alberta ratepayers was changed to place the entire financial burden on Alberta ratepayers.

A year after the 2008 cable was sent, the Alberta Government passed 3 controversial and interconnected bills (Bills 19, 36 and 50) that concentrated decision-making on power lines with the Alberta Cabinet. A growing public backlash against these 3 bills has been problematic for the provincial government. First, opposition parties (Wildrose, Liberal, NDP, Alberta Party) criticized the bills, as well as a growing number of Alberta landowners, industry and businesses. Most recently, several Alberta Progressive Conservative Party leadership candidates have questioned Bill 50 and the provincial government’s plans to build massive new high voltage power lines throughout Alberta. See Calgary Sun, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, and Camrose Booster for details.

The 8-fold increase in Alberta’s electricity transmission capacity, as planned by the provincial government, is not necessary and in fact the Industrial Power Consumers Association of Alberta says it will make Alberta industry uncompetitive due to high transmission costs to pay for all the new lines. A significant portion of the profits will flow from Alberta to AltaLink’s parent company in Montreal, SNC-Lavalin, which now owns 100% of AltaLink.

AltaLink and the Alberta P.C. Party are closely aligned, with AltaLink’s Senior VP (Leigh Clarke) serving as Calgary Region VP of the P.C. Party until very recently; and Patricia Nelson, a former Tory Energy Minister, currently sitting on AltaLink’s Board of Directors. Many other key Tory insiders have strong relationships with AltaLink.

This mess gets worse with revelations last week that SNC-Lavalin has been working for Moammar Gadhafi in Libya since 1986, and is reported to be currently building a jail for Gadhafi in Tripoli. Is this the kind of company we want building overhead high voltage power lines in Alberta?

For more on SNC Lavalin, AltaLink and their questionable ties, see this link.

~ by RETA on May 26, 2011.

%d bloggers like this: