AUC Rejects Landowner Request for Adjournment
It’s no surprise that on June 13 the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) rejected interveners’ request for the hearing on the Western Alberta Transmission Line to be delayed until an Alberta Court of Appeal decision about the interpretation of “public interest” (Edmonton Journal). The AUC is well known for its rulings in favour of the transmission industry and not in the best interest of the public. Almost all of the AUC’s decisions have been in favour of transmission company applicants such as AltaLink in this case.
The AUC’s decision has angered some landowners who have accused the AUC of trying to “railroad” the hearings and warned this could trigger another major court battle. Joe Anglin, Wildrose MLA and well-known critic of the Alberta Government’s electricity transmission policies, said, “To proceed with a hearing when a superior court is hearing the matter of public interest is arrogant.” He called the AUC’s decision “irresponsible”.
The court of appeal case, on behalf of landowners negatively affected by the AUC’s decision last year on the Heartland Transmission Project, will examine the question of whether the AUC can reject a transmission line legislated in Bill 50 when the evidence clearly shows the proposed line will do more social and economic harm than good (which most certainly is the case with the Heartland line). The Sturgeon County landowners’ lawyer, Keith Wilson, who filed the appeal has asked for the case to be expedited, knowing how critical the court’s decision will be to all future transmission line hearings in Alberta.