P.C. Leadership Candidates – Power Lines

Results of the first ballot conducted on September 17 for leader of the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party and next Premier of Alberta saw Gary Mar garner 41% of the vote, Alison Redford 19% and Doug Horner 14%. These 3 candidates move forward to the second ballot which will be held October 1. So what has each of the candidates said about electricity transmission and the proposed high voltage power lines dubiously labelled “critical transmission infrastructure” by the Alberta Government?

Within his first 90 days as Premier, leadership candidate Gary Mar has recently said he would change Bill 50 so Cabinet no longer had the authority to create critical transmission infrastructure. He would ensure that Alberta ratepayers have input on the need for new high voltage lines. The St. Albert Gazette reports that he would also ask the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) to take another look at proposed north-south transmission lines. As well, Mar’s website indicates he would look at lowering electricity costs while maintaining reliability, which might require new and more efficient generation and transmission technologies.

In the past, Mar has indicated he would put a hold on the Heartland Transmission Project until numerous questions he has are answered. For example, in August, the Sherwood Park News reported that he said, “There are wide variances in respect to what it’s going to cost and over how long a period you’re going to pay for it and even very basic questions, such as do you need all this transmission now?” These questions need to be answered to his satisfaction before he would approve continuation of the project.

When asked about the Heartland line in April of this year, Mar told the Sherwood Park News, “I need to ask questions about how much power is needed in this area, is it feasible to bury the line underground? How does it affect the school that is close to the line? How is it affecting people’s property values? Those are all factors you need to take into account.”

Doug Horner was recently reported by the Edmonton Journal, Edmonton Sun and Calgary Herald  as promising, if he becomes Premier, to issue a request-for-proposals to bury power lines such as the proposed Heartland Transmission Project. He wants to find out how much it really costs to bury high voltage power lines, and then determine whether those additional capital costs to bury lines in special circumstances when they run close to high-density areas can be justified.

(RETA’s expert testimony at the recent Alberta Utilities Commission hearing on the proposed Heartland line indicates that a partially buried Heartland line could cost as little as only 15% more to build than an entirely above-ground line. However, if capital, maintenance and transmission loss costs are combined over the life of a line, a buried line can be cheaper than an above-ground line.)

Horner has also said a  government under his leadership would conduct a review of how competitive Alberta’s entire electrical system is, including an analysis of how transmission lines are built and financed, consumer price protection, and a strategy on alternative fuels and power generation. He’s also recommending a new mandate for the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO).

Alison Redford wants to review Bill 50 and the need for both of the proposed north-south high voltage power lines. She has also recently suggested that the proposed Heartland line is necessary.

~ by RETA on September 28, 2011.

%d bloggers like this: