AUC Heartland Power Line Decision – Fallout

The AUC (Alberta Utilities Commission) decision on the Heartland power line is now 2 weeks old. As anyone who has been following the news is aware, the AUC, in all its wisdom, has indicated that it is in the public interest to have the Heartland line built above ground (yes, not buried) through the Edmonton and Sherwood Park Greenbelts next to homes, schools, daycares, a hospital, and many environmentally sensitive areas.

To be a bit more precise, the AUC’s decision will directly and adversely affect 5,194 homes (over 15,000 people) in Edmonton, Sherwood Park, rural Strathcona County and Sturgeon County. For those of you keeping track, that’s 4,852 more homes than would have been impacted along the applicants’ alternate route, but if you can believe it, the AUC’s decision says fewer people are impacted along the Greenbelts (the route selected by the AUC). Will somebody please give the AUC a math lesson? (We point this out because of the AUC’s erroneous math – not because we would have supported an above-ground line close to any of the 342 homes along the alternate route.)

In the future, we will be providing much more information on the AUC’s decision so that you may judge for yourselves just exactly what “public interest” has been served by this ludicrous decision. But for now, we thought you might be interested in some of the hundreds of responses to date from Albertans, as reported by the media. Here’s a short list of some of the more common themes to these responses:

1. The AUC completely ignored the facts on health, safety, property value, environmental and aesthetic impacts presented by interveners opposed to an overhead line, and instead relied on unsubstantiated information presented by the applicants, AltaLink and EPCOR.

2. The AUC agreed on the line being built above ground right next to Colchester Elementary School, which was built in 1958, long before any greenbelts were developed. This well-maintained school currently has an enrollment of close to 200, and will close down if the line is built above ground.

3. Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk is wrong to suggest that Colchester students might be better served by attending school somewhere else.

4. Many institutions,  groups and individuals will fight the AUC and the Alberta Government on this decision because it is a bad decision, based on a very biased interpretation of the evidence presented to the AUC. This battle might include legal, political and other appropriate remedies and measures.

5. The real irony is, industry, industrial organizations, academics, responsible electricity use groups and most Albertans have made it clear the Heartland line is not even needed. Why is the P.C. Government and the AUC ramming this line down our throats? What kind of back-room deals have been made with AltaLink, SNC-Lavalin and EPCOR?

6. The money it will take to build a new school (to replace Colchester), to build monopole rather than lattice towers, and to compensate homeowners and businesses for devalued properties next to an overhead line would have been more than enough to bury the line.

7. The AUC’s decision is no surprise because the Alberta Government and the AESO made it clear years ago they wanted a new line built in the Edmonton and Sherwood Park Greenbelts, which were set aside in the 1970’s to protect agriculture and the natural environment.

8. The AUC and the P.C. Government care more about satisfying the big power industry than they do about the health, safety and financial security of Albertans and protection of our natural environment.

9. The AUC and Alberta Government are promoting the use of dirty coal-fired power generation (at Wabamun) over more environmentally-friendly generation such as natural gas-fired and co-generated electricity.

10. Both the provincial government and the AUC refuse to recognize the advances made in high voltage line undergrounding technologies, and the many benefits of burying these lines.

11. Many communities in Strathcona County, Sturgeon County and Edmonton will be destroyed as a result of this decision.

12. To what extent did Premier Redford’s interference with the quasi-judicial process and her personal support for the Heartland line influence the AUC’s decision?

13. Bill 50 and other P.C. Government legislation helped lay the groundwork for this poor decision.

14. The entire public consultation and hearing process for the Heartland line was a farce.

Here are a few responses to the decision by RETA, as recorded by the media: CBC, Edmonton Journal, St. Albert Gazette and Sherwood Park News.

Following are just some of the hundreds of responses to the AUC decision from other Albertans and institutions: CTV (1), Calgary Beacon, Edmonton Journal (1), Strathcona County News Release (1), Sherwood Park News (1), Elk Island Public Schools News Release, Calgary Herald (1), iNews 880 (1), Canadian Business, Edmonton Journal (2), Sherwood Park News (2), Calgary Herald (2), CTV (2), Fort Saskatchewan Record, CTV (3), Calgary Herald (3), iNews 880 (2), Edmonton Sun, Sherwood Park News (3), Strathcona County News Release (2), Edmonton Journal (3), Sherwood Park News (4), iNews 880 (3), CTV (4), Edmonton Journal (4), Sherwood Park News (5), Edmonton Journal (5), Sherwood Park News (6) and Sherwood Park News (7).

~ by RETA on November 15, 2011.

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