Premier-Designate Redford Speaks on Power Lines

Although Premier-designate Redford said very little about electricity transmission during the P.C. leadership race, she has something to say now. Some of it makes sense, while some of it does not.

Her recent comment to the Calgary Herald that makes sense is that not all the lines labelled as “critical transmission infrastructure” by the Alberta Government in Bill 50 are necessary. Another comment that makes sense is that, “If for any reason there was ever a decision made to export electricity, the cost of all of that transmission must be paid by the customer – and the customer in that case would be the United States.” As well, her comment that the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) needs to more seriously consider electricity costs to consumers, makes sense.

A comment by the new Premier that does not make sense is that the proposed Heartland transmission line is necessary. RETA President Bruce Johnson has already responded by asking why the Heartland line needs to be so massive, and why does it need to be above ground and ruin countless people’s lives?

According to AltaLink and EPCOR, the proposed Heartland line will be energized to only 15% of its total capacity until 2027, and then to only 30% of its total capacity thereafter. Why then is a double-circuit 500 kilovolt line with 77-metre-tall towers needed if 85% and 70% of its total capacity will never be used?? This makes no sense whatsoever. To add to the question of why the Heartland line is even necessary, when the line was first planned, there were 9 bitumen upgraders that were going to be built in the Industrial Heartland – now there is only one. And, any upgrader that is built in the Heartland will co-generate its own electricity, will not require dirty coal-fired power from Wabamun, and therefore the Heartland line is not needed.

If the new Premier thinks a Heartland line between Wabamun and the Industrial Heartland is necessary, and if it is built above ground, it will negatively impact 5,194 homes (15,000 – 18,000 people), several schools, many businesses including daycares, and a hospital. These impacts include health, safety, property values, the local environment, aesthetics and overall quality of life. RETA’s position for the past 3 years has been that high voltage power lines must be buried if they are built close to homes, schools, daycares, hospitals and environmentally sensitive areas. If high voltage lines are not buried in such unique circumstances, then those impacted must be fairly compensated on the basis of replacement value (not market value which has already been significantly diminished by power line proposals).

It appears that Edmonton, Sherwood Park and Strathcona County residents are in for a long battle to keep the proposed Heartland line from being built above ground through the Sherwood Park and Edmonton Greenbelts (AltaLink’s and EPCOR’s preferred route).

~ by RETA on October 4, 2011.

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