Heartland Line Must be Reviewed

This Letter to the Editor by RETA Board member, John Kristensen, appeared in today’s Edmonton Journal:

“Many Albertans have been following the proceedings of the Critical Transmission Review Committee with great interest. This is the committee established in early December by the Alberta government to review the need for the two north-south transmission lines dubiously called “critical” by the government.

The vast majority of presentations to the committee have been opposed to the building of these lines, calling them unnecessary or significant overbuilds. Business and industry associations have said the absurdly high costs of the lines will drive business and industry out of Alberta because they cannot afford any more increases in our already skyrocketing electricity costs.

Other presentations have charged that the primary reason for all these new lines is to export electricity to the United States, with Alberta ratepayers picking up 100 per cent of the infrastructure costs while transmission companies own the lines and reap guaranteed annual investment returns of nine per cent on the infrastructure value.

Companies such as Enmax say the new lines are not needed because cleaner natural gas-fired electricity in southern Alberta will address any new power requirements there.

Of course a few presentations, such as those from AltaLink and Atco, each proposing a north-south line and hoping to reap millions of dollars in annual profits, suggest these lines are necessary.

Unfortunately, the Heartland power line is not part of this review. If one or more of the north-south lines is not built, the Heartland line will make no sense whatsoever because it was to connect the two. And with oilsands companies deciding it is cheaper to ship raw bitumen through pipelines to the United States and China, the Industrial Heartland will not see the nine upgraders anticipated by the government.

The primary reason for the Heartland line was to provide coal-fired power to all of these upgraders. The upgrading industry says it doesn’t need outside electricity because it can more efficiently co-generate its own cleaner electricity.

This indicates that the Heartland line is the least needed of all the so-called “critical” lines, yet Premier Alison Redford says it’s the most needed line and indeed yanked it out of the Critical Transmission Review Committee process.

And the government wonders why Albertans are upset with the way electricity generation and transmission is run in our province.”

~ by RETA on January 22, 2012.

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