As you have probably heard, the completely independent Alberta Utilities Commission, who, on Oct 19th was told to “suspend or adjourn its consideration of [three Critical Transmission Infrastructure] applications,” only to have that rescinded three hours later by Premier Alison Redford, today rendered their decision on the Heartland Transmission Line.
The inevitable outcome… yes, it’s going ahead and it will be overhead. Brilliant. Couldn’t have predicted that one.
Many of you had suggested in the past the AUC Hearing was simply theatre with a predetermined outcome. Well, I had hoped better, but apparently, no.
What a wonderful process it was. Let me see… the Applicants (AltaLink and Epcor) had two years to build their case. We, the interveners, had about 5 weeks to hire our expert witnesses and put our arguments together. Seems fair.
The applicants had limitless resources, which, if they were successful, would be paid for by you and I. We had to pay for this out of our own pockets and hope the AUC might reimburse us if they so decided. Seems fair.
We have day jobs we need to attend to not to mention the stress of trying to keep a grass-roots organization going. They get to hire a team of people whose only objective is to discredit us and further the goals of a multi-million dollar corporation, based out of Quebec, that doesn’t actually have to live with these power lines. Seems fair.
And, by the way, don’t worry, these power lines are harmless. In time, you’ll grow to love them, and they hardly affect property values at all. Any health impacts are purely imaginary and we’ll deny them until we’re blue in the face. Remember asbestos and tobacco?
Well, anyway, rather than dwelling on what was a pretty predictable outcome we need to think about what we do next because we’re not going to roll over and play dead.
First of all, the root of the problem is the government, who, without being able to demonstrate there is a customer at the end of this, deems this line to be “critical”. They also maintain it is “critical” despite the fact it won’t be energized to more than 15% of its capacity until at least 2027. (This is in the applicant’s own submission). Clearly, that must be critical. That’s why they put Bill 50 in place to make sure the AUC didn’t even get to question the need for this line.
So, what do we do? I think the answer is we need to do whatever we can to make sure this government doesn’t continue ruining the lives of Albertans. I never wanted to get really political but I think the time has come. I would appreciate your perspective on this, but, from where I sit, this government needs to go.
Second of all, we need to pursue whatever legal avenues we can. I don’t know if there is any ability to challenge the AUC’s decision, and, let’s face it, if we do they will probably decide we won’t get reimbursed for our more than $500,000 in expenses for the hearing (wow, that’s fair too!). But still, it is an avenue we must explore.
I think our last line of defense against this insanity is a class-action lawsuit. Anyone who maintains there is no loss of property value when power lines are run by people’s homes is clearly delusional. The loss in value is real and it is huge – at a modest 15% we estimate around $200M, and 15% is a very low-ball estimate. Anyway, that’s for the class-action counsel to figure out.
So, please stay with us as we sort out what we’re going to do. Change government, appeal decision, sue for losses? Not sure. Perhaps there are other avenues and we welcome hearing from you.
As always thank you for your support. I wish we had a better message to send tonight but I suppose this was reasonably predictable.