AUC Heartland Decision Not in Best Public Interest

On May 14, the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) announced that it dismissed all of the appeals of its decision last November to let AltaLink, EPCOR and SNC-Lavalin build an above-ground Heartland power line near homes, schools, daycares and environmentally sensitive areas. Following is RETA’s initial response, as issued in a news release today:

(Sherwood Park) May 15, 2012. Responsible Electricity Transmission for Albertans (RETA) is extremely disappointed in the Alberta Utilities Commission’s (AUC) May 14 announcement to dismiss appeals of its decision last year to permit an above-ground high voltage power line to be built in the Edmonton and Sherwood Park Greenbelts (TUCs).

Late last year, RETA challenged the November 1, 2011 decision of the AUC to let AltaLink and EPCOR build the Heartland power line next to 5,200 homes, several schools and daycares, and many environmentally sensitive areas.

First, RETA challenged a chart, accepted by the AUC, that was presented by AltaLink which significantly underestimated electromagnetic field (EMF) levels that nearby residents would be exposed to. Prolonged exposure to overhead high voltage line EMFs have been strongly correlated to increased risks of many diseases including leukemia, other cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, miscarriage, birth defects and suicide.

Second, RETA argued that the AUC quickly and arbitrarily dismissed the underground option as “high risk”. However, undergrounding is becoming increasingly common throughout the world, and even the Heartland applicants agreed that undergrounding is feasible.

Third, RETA indicated that the AUC did not properly consider the fact that Colchester Elementary School will close if the Heartland line is built above ground next to the school.

In summary, RETA’s challenge was based on the argument that the AUC’s 2011 decision was not in the best ‘public interest’.

‘We are very disappointed and frustrated with the AUC process that was supposed to seriously consider the testimony presented by the public. The data and expert testimony presented by us, several local governments, industrial power consumer groups, landowner groups and individual homeowners was either dismissed or ignored by the AUC,’ said John Kristensen, VP Technical, RETA.

As a result of the recent AUC announcement, RETA is exploring legal options to stop the Heartland line from getting built, or at minimum to get it buried when it runs close to people.”

Strathcona County also expressed its strong disappointment in the AUC dismissing its appeal as well (see news release). Mayor Linda Osinchuk said, “I want to assure our residents that we did everything in our power to represent the community’s interests, and to bring the environmental and health considerations to the forefront. We had tremendous support in these efforts from community members, who took a strong stand and got involved in a long and complex process. Unfortunately, the final decision was not ours, but the AUC’s.”

To view and listen to RETA’s response to this latest AUC decision, see Alberta Primetime at this link: Also see the following media coverage: iNews 880 (1)Global News, iNews 880 (2), Edmonton JournalTransmissionHub, Alberta Primetime, Sherwood Park News.

~ by RETA on May 15, 2012.

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