Heartland Power Line – Court of Appeal
The St. Albert Gazette and Global News report that Sturgeon County Councillor Karen Shaw’s lawyer took the approval of the Heartland Transmission Project to the Court of Appeal yesterday.
Lawyer Keith Wilson argued the appeal court had to hear the case for two main reasons:
1) The AUC (Alberta Utilities Commission) was wrong when it failed to consider social and economic impacts of the project. RETA certainly supports this argument because the AUC consistently ignored facts and other data presented at last year’s hearing by anyone opposed to the above-ground Heartland line, and instead relied on statements made by hired AltaLink and EPCOR witnesses who testify on a regular basis for the transmission industry. It did not seem to matter what data opposing interveners presented on the negative health, safety, environmental, property value, aesthetic and economic impacts of an overhead 500kV line built so close to about 5,200 homes; several schools, daycares and hospitals; and many environmentally sensitive areas – the AUC consistently sided with biased information presented by hired consultants working for the transmission industry. (For details of the AUC Heartland hearing proceedings, see RETA blogs from April 12, 2011 to May 23, 2011.)
2) There was political interference in the process. RETA certainly agrees with this argument as well. Last fall, the AUC suspended the process on the Heartland line and two other lines based on a request from Energy Minister Ted Morton, while the government was to review these three lines. A few short hours later, Premier Redford overturned Morton’s request and the AUC’s decision to suspend the Heartland process, saying the Heartland line should go ahead as planned and the process should stop for only the other two lines. At that point, it became obvious that the AUC is not an independent body and in fact reacted to the Premier’s demands.
Best wishes to Karen Shaw and lawyer Keith Wilson on their challenge of the AUC decision to let AltaLink and EPCOR build an above-ground line through the City of Edmonton, County of Strathcona and County of Sturgeon – one of the AUC’s most questionable decisions ever.