Bill 50 Power Lines in Alberta May Be Stopped

With recent polls showing support for the Alberta PC Party plummeting, a number of electricity transmission projects may well be stopped.

A Forum Research poll conducted just after the election was called this week showed that 41% of Albertans favored the Wildrose Party compared to only 31% who favored the PC Party. A recent Ipsos Reid poll put the Wildrose and PC parties neck-and-neck at 38% support. And, a recent poll conducted for the Edmonton Journal suggested the PCs had 37% support to the Wildrose’s 34%.

So what does this have to do with the fate of several high voltage power lines? Well, the Alberta PC government has legislated the building of numerous new overhead 500kV power lines, much to the discontent of Alberta landowners, homeowners, big industry, many other businesses, and many municipalities who argue that these lines are not safe and they are not needed. As a result of the PCs mishandling of electricity transmission, it has become one of the major issues during the current election campaign.

TransmissionHub points out that the Wildrose Party sides with opponents of the Heartland Transmission Project, Western Alberta Transmission Line and Eastern Alberta Transmission Line. Leader Danielle Smith has said a Wildrose government would stop these three projects. Local natural gas-fired generation, the federal government’s push to transition away from dirty coal-fired generation, co-generation of power by big industries, and the lack of any significant bitumen upgrading in Alberta, are all factors in negating the need for the new 500kV lines that the Alberta PCs want built.

Two of the most contentious pieces of electricity-related legislation, the Land Assembly Project Area Act (Bill 19) and the Electric Statutes Amendment Act (Bill 50) would be repealed by a Wildrose government.

The Alberta Liberal Party, Alberta NDP and Alberta Party are also opposed to the needless construction of all these massive power lines.

Another sore point with many Albertans is the Alberta government’s refusal to support the burying of high voltage power lines whenever they run near residential areas, schools, daycares and hospitals. Hundreds of studies clearly show that overhead high voltage power lines have negative impacts on property values, health, safety, the environment, viewscape, agriculture and tourism. Burying lines eliminates these impacts. All opposition parties support the burying of high voltage lines  in specific circumstances such as a portion of the Heartland line where it directly and adversely impacts 5,200 homes, and several schools and daycares.

The transmission companies and the Alberta government argue that burying these lines is far too expensive. The fact is when you combine the capital, maintenance and transmission loss costs over the life of a line, underground lines are cheaper than overhead lines.

Electricity transmission is but one of many issues that have been mishandled by the PCs. We at RETA look forward to a change in government, because the PC government refuses to listen to Albertans’ legitimate concerns about electricity transmission (and generation as well for that matter). The only hope for an end to these massive overhead lines getting built is to make sure the PCs do not form the next government.

~ by RETA on March 30, 2012.

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